Don’t kiss and tell


We didn’t kiss and tell.

I grew up in a small countryside town. This was both a blessing and a curse. We saw it mostly as a curse, a big obnoxious curse that some elder had cast on us for reasons that we couldn’t fathom. We could never in a million years see the blessing in it. But age will teach you that some curses are really blessings in disguise and that what you called wisdom yesterday was really child’s folly.

So in this kiss-and-not-tell-town, everyone was in everybody else’s business. In today’s lingo, ‘they couldn’t let you prosper in peace’. You’d walk from your house to town and before you got there, the whole town would know what kind of shoes you wore. If you failed your exams, your neighbor’s mother would have the info before you brought the report card home. You couldn’t really get away with much, no. The town practiced very effective community policing.

When you stepped out to go to the butchery, everyone would know, before the broth was even ready. We knew which family had made Chapattis and on which day of the week they had made them. The notoriously nosy neighbors would even attempt to guess how many Chapattis had been made. We knew which household had a color TV and which one listened to the news on the radio because they couldn’t afford a TV.

Privacy wasn’t something that you had, no.

We were a community and so we’d commune on everything that we could hear, see or find. In this town, the big families were known and effectively isolated or isolated themselves or whichever came first. By big families I mean the ones that ran the town. These were the untouchables and you’d do well to stick within your social strata.

Only certain people could afford certain things. Only certain kids could ride bicycles and own computer games, the rest of us had to be content to play football on uneven earth fields using a nylon paper made ball.

Some kids went to swim in hotel swimming pools over the weekends. These were swimming pools that had just the right levels of water, and at the right temperature. The water had to be cured so that kids wouldn’t catch a rash after swimming. There was a lifeguard to ensure that no kid could drown. They had sun loungers besides the swimming pool for sunbathing when you got tired of swimming and the kids would be in very trendy swimming costumes.

The local children, read a few others, and myself had a dam as a swimming pool. The weather decided what kind of levels the dam was at so if it had rained, you’d have a full to the brim dam and in the sunny season, you’d literally swim in mud. God cured Dam water; He was the protector of our skins. What you wore underneath your trousers was your swimming costume and no one cared about you drowning. Your life was your responsibility; you were your own lifeguard. If you drowned you were just an idiot, period!

Everyone knew whose child you were-they still do actually. If you misbehaved, they would say that the bishop’s son is spoilt. Your sins were always inferred on your parents, or their title for that matter.

So as you would imagine, dating in this our kiss-and-not-tell-town was not a very ingenious idea. Dating was akin to being treasonous. Your neighbors would scandalize you. They’d call you out in very uncertain terms. You’d be ostracized and labelled a delinquent whose only mission was to ruin other peoples’ children.

Your parents would be called irresponsible, callous guardians who had failed to raise their child in the acceptable ethos and social norms of the society. Other parents would talk about them in hushed tones in the street corners giving them queer side eyes. You’d be the best example of what kind of person not to become in all the guidance and counseling sessions. They’d say ‘don’t be like Mwalimu’s son, nothing good can come out of him’. Pastors would use you in their sermons albeit with a little bit of discretion and tongue in cheek but if you were not dumb, you’d know that they were talking about you. So no, dating wasn’t a good idea.

But we did date! Yes we did!

I was in high school when I liked my first girl. And of course, we met in church. Well, not that I was extra spiritual or anything but really, for the better part of my life, we lived in church. Like literally in the church compound. Our house was a stone throw away from the church building so yes I was always in church. Whether you chose to attend service or not you’d still hear everything they said in church even if they didn’t use a public address system.

Friday nights were especially difficult. Worshippers walking around the compound, praying loudly during the night vigil would interrupt your sleep from time to time. No wonder I spoke in other tongues before I could even learn Swahili.

We became very good friends with said girl. We hang out a lot during the holidays. We were always together. In a town that everyone knew everyone, we found ways of being discrete or at least tried. For starters, we were never dating in the public eye no we were friends. Just friends even.

I visited her a lot. I visited her because our house was a public place; all pastors’ houses are really public utilities. It was impossible for you to meet someone in our house. There were visitors almost always. So her parents place was better. We’d sit and talk the whole afternoon. We’d talk about anything and everything, conversations that never really ended. And when we got tired of sitting in the house, we’d take a walk.

We loved walks. We’d walk for more than 20 kilometers and not even notice how far we’d gone. Then we’d realize that it was getting dark and start walking back home. There was no pressure. We didn’t have to spend money on anything; we could just carry Mandazi and juice and go eating along the way.

We didn’t have the luxury of mobile phones then so you had to meet in person if you wanted to maintain a relationship. The time spent together was the only time you had with someone. If you didn’t see them, you couldn’t talk to them. There would be no SMS at night, no WhatsApp chat, DM on the gram or a call to say goodnight. If you wanted to talk to her, you had to find her in person.

So forgive me for getting a bit worried about what we call relationships today. See, times have changed. Technology has evolved so fast that what used to be trendy five years ago is obsolete today. Did you know that there’s someone who’s possibly 18 years old and has no idea what a floppy disk is? They have possibly never even seen a VCR machine!

But what worries me more is that today there’s nothing discrete about relationships. There’s nothing discrete about anything anymore. Everyone is having his or her private moment in the public glare. So since this is ‘just life’, I thought I’d write about it.

See, not everything belongs in the public eye. Some events are meant to be private, personal, closed out, ticket only events.

But this generation lives in public. We will literally know who is asking you out, when they asked you out and why they asked you out. It is like we have a time stamp on your life. It is fine, but really, honestly, why do you think we care so much to know that intimate part of you?

When he dumps you, you’ll let us know. You’ll publish all your misgivings of him and the stupid things that he did or didn’t do online. You’ll tell us how much you hate him and how he doesn’t deserve you. You’ll tell us how too good for him you are and that you’ll find a better boy than him in no time, but really, again, who says we care? We didn’t participate in choosing him for you, why should it bother us when he dumps you?

If he proposes to you, you are going to flaunt it. Now, how has your engagement become a public spectacle? What is it about your engagement that should be discussed in the World Wide Web? I mean, if you were Megan Markle we would be a little interested, but you, really, please. Your engagement is for you, your fiancé, a few friends and family to know and enjoy. Ama what number makes few to you? I am not part of the kamati ya roho chafu, but what if it doesn’t work out? Will you call us all on social media to tell us why it didn’t work out?

Maybe we can understand your wedding becoming a public deal but even some details of the wedding doesn’t need to be plastered all over social media. Well, unless you are Ngina Kenyatta. Still, there’s always a bit of your wedding that we shouldn’t know about. Like where you go for honeymoon for example. Should that concern us? Unless you have been paid to market the location, which case we highly doubt, keep it under the wraps please.

When your child is born, you’ll tell us. And yes, that’s good news, and yes, some of us are happy for you, but so that you know, most people aren’t happy for you. You will not know but some of the battles you are fighting now are as a result of private information you gave people who weren’t for you. You, inadvertently armed people with weapons to fight you. Then you’ll go around declaring that no weapon formed against you shall prosper while you are the manufacturer of the weapons of mass destruction against your own self. When you get to heaven, please be sure to ask Joseph the patriarch how posting his dreams on the gram worked out for him.

The worst we’ve done, I think, is making marriage a public affair.

We can literally tell what happens next in your life because you’ve made us part of your marriage. We know what time you eat, what time you sleep, what you take for breakfast, where you live, which car you drive and where you love to wine and dine. If he boils the eggs in the morning, you’ll tell us and when you make your bed, we will get an alert on IG.

We have become a generation that doesn’t know what belongs in the private space and what we should feed the public. I won’t dictate but family (that is your wife/husband and kids) those belong in your private space. Ship them there, lock them in and keep the key safely tucked away. Do not ever make your family our business. There’s a reason we are not all your family.

Let me let you in on a little secret. The social media isn’t your friend, they are in business and their only interest in you is how much business you can bring them. Secondly, the www doesn’t forget. So what you post today will be remembered 10 years later, as vividly as it happened today. You might want to choose what goes on the Internet and what doesn’t.

Thirdly, did you know that the people whose lives are inevitably public wish they had your private life? Politicians, pastors, prominent people wish they could have their private back. They understand the power of privacy. You on the other hand are so keen on making your life public that you’ve listed yourself a public figure when you have less than two hundred followers on Instagram. Really now?

But lastly, social media is one of the leading causes of depression among young people today. Why? Because of something Steven Furtick refers to as the ‘pressure to perform’. See, what you see on someone’s IG, FB, or Twitter page isn’t always the reality of his or her life. Most of it is just meant to sell an ideal that doesn’t exist in reality. But what most of us do is that we take it as the reality and try to measure up to it. We try to dress like them, live in the same neighborhood, drive the same kind of car and date the same type of boy or girl. We try to perform because we are provoked by a post, a tweet or a tag. Most of us are just in performance mode. Most of us are in competition.

Paul, the apostle of old, spoke about how we should live our lives. He said… “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you.” And I’d say the same, lead a quiet life, do what you are doing in silence, and let success be the noise we hear. Unless airing all your private business on social media is going to make you tons of money please keep it to yourself. But then again, even if it makes you all that money, money is very overrated, and once you’ve sold your privacy, you can’t buy it back.

Back in the day, we didn’t kiss and tell. Today, we bare it all out.

  1. You called it!!! Can people just take a breath and just relax… this social media thing is not life and death… if I wasn’t making a dime from it, I would delete all my accounts.. Depression is becoming a real problem real quick!! And all because of lies (mostly) being flaunted in these social apps….

  2. #don’tkissandtell this should go out trending. Millennials don’t get this, always airing out their dirty linen in public. Cheza chini 🤣😂

  3. I agree. Our lives should be private. Occured to me a while ago why the need or the pressure to tell people what is going on in my life. Unless we keep in touch and talk on the phone then why divulge all my life for everyone to read and talk about? Love your point of weapons of mass destruction…lol. Also I do not see the need of posting my kids faces all over the net…no, not now. Let them do it if they decide to when they grow…if they see the need, because I will sure have this talk with them…among countless others!

  4. just live your life never copy anyone’s you said let your success make them noise.privacy is everything

  5. Nakuonea 9 “They’d say ‘don’t be like Mwalimu’s son…” 🙂

    “….They understand the power of privacy. ” TIME liberates people and if it doesn’t, life does. I was once young (still young) and would post everything on Facebook. I would sneeze and post, get 100 plus comments and 200 likes. It got to a point, I closed that account and deleted it from the world wide web. Two years later, I started a new account, let’s say, right now, i’m more of a watcher, if I get time, that is.
    Don’t kiss and tell! We don’t need your life, we have ours to deal with.

  6. A master piece it is!!!!!! Dont Kiss and tell.
    Hapo kwa “We are our own manufacturer of destructive weapons, ni ukweli”😉

  7. Once upon a time the social media pressure got to me… I think I got some kidogo depression until I realised that most of the people are only faking it and that everyone’s journey is different.

  8. True true but we have to make kamati chafu to have sleepless nyts… 🤣 😂 Na hio time holiday ni sadaka imetumika…. Mtu akipatana na mimi singwes afford hata ka lunch….

  9. Absolutely true that social media breeds depression… Been a victim bfr then… Well, one needs to avoid living a photoshopped realities of others.. Great piece mwendwa

  10. #Don’t kiss and tell
    Keep private matters private to increase respect and honor! Publicing private life brings more harm than peace, take it to the bank!

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