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I dated men across the races; this is how it’s like

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The idea of dating a man from a different culture seemed so bizarre at first. As the editor was briefing me all I could think was ‘Is this actually becoming a reality for me?’ I was open to the idea though, after all, at 23, and being a student, the world is one big lobster and I can afford to take the risks. I could pull it off, yes, just for some reason, it seemed so ‘unreal’.

A 2014 OkCupid survey on mix-gendered participants concluded that all the women polled preferred to date men of their race, with black women approval rates at zero percent on white men, -11 percent on Asian men and 16 percent on fellow black men. Interesting.

I reflected on the plethora of the bad dating choices I’d already made, and it was surprising that I had never considered dating out of the country’s boundaries. Does this mean that I, just like many other women, have been somehow socialised to stick to their own kind? Is it a matter of exposure? Or is it a comfort?

The more I contemplated my assignment, the more plausible it seemed. As a ‘woke’ independent Kenyan woman, I was aware of how tiny the dating pool had become. When you put aside the woman-haters, aka hoteps, playboys, party freaks, self-proclaimed good guys and the ‘you up’-ers, the chances of finding a man worth spending quality time with, let alone be your life partner are next to nil.

Taking how common toxic relationships have become, I decided my editor made too much sense. It was time to bring Mercy out of the shell and open her up to continental love.

The sweet man with a few rough edges

Bolulaje Owoh*, 34 years old, Business associate, Nigerian

“So when’s dinner?” was the first DM I received from a match that captured my attention on Tinder. If you’re anything like me, not beating around the bush earns you several points. I study part-time so we set the date for the next week’s Thursday evening. Bolu, as he very-sweetly requested I call him, was a 34-year-old divorcee with a nine-year-old daughter and ‘was doing business with the government’. He was a short stout man, with absolutely no hair and adorned in the usual slightly-under fitting formal shirt under a pristine blue suit. My best friend would have described him with the now popular phrase, ‘kijana mfupi, nono, round’ I stifled a chuckle as he came out of the building to pay the Uber driver. He tipped him. “Wow, so this is Mercy” he quizzed in a heavy Nigerian accent as he smiled and opened the door. I couldn’t help but notice he smelled of sweat but I assumed it was due to a busy long day. Still, he could’ve freshened up, hygiene, you know?

We had been chatting on the app for several days before we exchanged numbers. He was a patient man. Before he called me he made it a point to text first, I’ll admit I was taken by this. I however never allowed video calls and kept phone calls to a minimum. As I said, he was a patient man.

Bolu had the whitest teeth and even though he had a certain funk, he exuded a certain level of luxe and pride. I liked that about him. As a woman, it is important to date men who are at your level or higher, as my mama always preached.

He took my hand and didn’t let go until we reached our table, all the while taking short slow strides babbling how he had been yearning to get a Kenyan lady to explore the beautiful locations with. We were at the Two Rivers Mall. ‘What kinds of malls do they have in Nigeria kwani?’ I wondered. ‘And why is he holding my hand so firmly?’

I had let him know it was going to be a short, get-to-know-you type of date, but the restaurant felt a lot fancier, I was severely underdressed and my confidence took a hit. Upon arrival, I found a table (it took ages) for us. Bolu immediately ordered my food without even asking me. To be honest, at that point my freedom had been violated enough and I was ready to take my leave. However, for the sake of science (since it was a mere experiment by now) I soldiered on. ‘Maybe he isn’t a misogynistic douche, maybe I’m being sensitive.’ However, while I do like fish, I just needed some long islands and maybe wings on this day. I was exhausted long before the date even began.

I had already established that he was a chatterbox from our daily phone calls but I had no problem with it since I am more of a listener myself. The most irritating thing that happened on the date, is that Bolu seemed to time his questions precisely with the moment I was about to put some food in, making for plenty awkward silences as I hastened my chewing speed to offer him an answer. He ate with his mouth open too. Needless to say, I did not finish my meal.

However, despite my initial repulsion, I liked Bolu. We had plenty of undeniable chemistry from our previous chats and he never failed to make me roll down with laughter, it was ridiculously enjoyable. He later explained that he was pulling a practical joke on me, timing his questions with my chomps. He was a laugh bot and I decided I liked that. He paid for my meal as well as my ride home. In hindsight, I thought, what I perceived as an infringement on my freedom to choose, was him trying to impress me rather than exert any authority over me. I planned to see him again; he just needed a little fine-tuning.

Personality/charisma     7

Choice of location            2

Impression before the date        8

Impression after meeting            6

*Scores out of 10, where 10 is excellent and 0 is poorest

Easygoing, loaded lad who is not Team Beyonce

Jay Patel*, 30 years old, photographer, Indian

When I matched up to Jay, I felt immediately elated. His display picture was a man sitting atop a dusty Land Rover (the kind used for game drives) bonnet, Nikon camera on hand and a shy smile on his face. I sensed a level of adventure that I recognised in myself and prayed he’d message me. I was so excited! This assignment was proving to be the most interesting part of my days now and I looked forward to meeting all these enthralling men. His first message was short but sweet asking me how my day went.

Our conversations were fluid and not an ounce felt forced. It is embarrassing to admit it, but I gave him my number in a matter of hours. Jay was a 30-year-old who took on photography as a hobby.

He didn’t have to, as I later was to learn, as he came from those loaded families.

At first, I was a bit hesitant about dating an Indian man because of the horror stories I had heard concerning racism, but he gently put all that to rest, after literally quoting Nelson Mandela. Our ‘dating’ was in a word, calming.

Jay picked me up at school after an evening class. He was right on time. As he got out to open the door for me I was met with a big bear hug that felt a bit too close for comfort.

He was extremely tall but he smelled enchanting. While Jay was never the one to talk much and our conversations were not like the never-ending stand-up jokes of Bolu, our silences were comfortable. He took me to a popular pizza place at The Village Market which was perfect as the arrangement was meant to be simple and casual.

Sitting at the courtyard, feasting on pizza and Merlot, he talked about growing up in Mumbai and his family’s decision to move to Kenya at the age of 14 to take upon the extended family’s business. We bonded over art and travel, he didn’t seem intimidated by my ambition and willingness to go over the top to make it, and neither did he make me feel silly because he was rich already. We did, however, have our differences when he insulted my entire religion by pretending he didn’t appreciate the genius that is Beyoncé- THE QUEEN BEYONCE!

He picked the tab and off we set for a short walk, sightseeing, window shopping— the works. I should add he got me an Ankara bracelet which I liked. As it was getting late he offered to drop me home to which I politely declined and he graciously got me an Uber instead. Jay was the most easy-going date I ever went to. He even agreed to teach me French, which he was fluent in.

Personality/charisma     8

Choice of location            10

Impression before the date        9

Impression after meeting            8

*Scores out of 10, where 10 is excellent and 0 is poorest

The one with the dark past and some fetish

Jon Taylor*, 41-year-old, investment banker/traveller, Australian

I actually didn’t meet Jon on the dating site; he walked up to me at K1 Klub House on a starry night and in a light Australian accent asked for a date, right there and then. It was quite daring of him and I was so impressed. I gave him my number instantly. He was tall— actually lanky— had short dark brown hair and deep-set brown eyes, and he was white so it was kind of comical to me. Our texts weren’t frequent maybe two or three texts a day and a few phone calls, brush overs, never getting into details of our lives but I assumed with time the chemistry will start brewing.

Two weeks later over brunch, I learned that he was a 41-year-old investment banker, an atheist, a dad of one and with no marriage in tow. He had only had three relationships that spanned less than a year and spent the bulk of his life single, which set off several of my alarms. He also proceeded to tell me about his dark history facing rejection after rejection in his home country which was interesting, to say the least.

We spent a good amount of our time discussing places we both had explored. Despite his foreignness, he often caught my cultural references and even knew several Kiswahili words and phrases. I was beginning to have fun. In spite of that, Jon watched me as I spoke and I had a nagging feeling that I was in a sense, his specimen. Now, stories about black women fetishisation in the west are not new, but those women have a sort of ‘look’, so to speak. That is the #BlackGirlMagic crew one, with the bright blue lipstick, flawless dark skin, beads, and a bald head aesthetic. I am in essence just an ordinary slay queen. So why was he ‘observing’ me so keenly?

It didn’t take long before the cat was out of the bag. “I like how smart you are. When I saw you that night I had to say something to you. Truth is I’m around for another week and I was hoping you’d be the nice lady who would help me with shall I say a memorable goodbye? “I smiled but I was reeling. For a moment, I just wanted to be back at home. My second royal screw-up. I made up a fake headache story and after politely rejecting several coercions to be taken to the hospital, he finally called an Uber. Communication was halted immediately.

Personality/charisma     5

Choice of location            8

Impression before the date        7

Impression after meeting            2

*Scores out of 10, where 10 is excellent and 0 is poorest

By Saturday Nation

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Lifestyle

I rose after my many falls

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Betty Muthoni had her life well planned out; get educated to the highest level, have a job, get married and have children. Just like in fairy tales. But life is not a fairly tail— a few months after she joined college, she got pregnant.

“My mother was disappointed, but was still warm and loving. I gave birth in 2001 to my now 19-year-old daughter. After delivering, my mother and brother supported my return to college. It was a hard one, but we made it through,” shares the last born of six.

In 2003 she got her first job through the help of Visions Institute of Professionals’ career programme, which went a long way in providing for her little daughter. Soon after, she was to meet her “Mr Right” in 2006.

“Towards the end of 2007, we agreed to try marriage and see what would become of our lives. That was the beginning of a painful journey. God did bless us with two children in 2008 and 2009. But there was a lot of drama and betrayals. I cannot even comprehend how I stayed in that relationship. I was cheated on, hardly taken care of, physically abused and completely mentally tormented. He was hardly home. His whereabouts was shared to me scantly as and when he wanted,” says the mother of three about her marriage.

Betty says her second and third children came when there was not much hope to hold on to. In fact, she went into depression when she learned of her third pregnancy.

Walking out

“When I was about to deliver my third child, we had an ugly disagreement and a bad fight that I walked out. My brothers rescued me and took me to my mother’s house in the village. With two children and another on the way, my life was shattered. There was a lot of darkness glaring at my future. But the fighting spirit in me didn’t give up; I got out of the shell of darkness and made my way back to the city a few months after delivery. I was jobless for a long time and with an unsupportive partner, it was hard to imagine how the future would look like for me and my little ones. I walked out of the relationship, but with hopes of regaining our future for the sake of our kids and love. They say love is blind; well I did witness the blindness here. I now say, it could be blind, but it needs to have brains at least,” she intimates.

Were it not for a well-wisher who provided her with a two-roomed house, Betty and her children would have been homeless. She became Mama Fua to make ends meet.

“The job was not sustainable. I borrowed money from everyone who I knew until they got tired. One day I was at home after trying everything when an alumni from my former primary school called me. He knew my plight. During his errands hawking clothes, he had met a woman who was making customised calligraphy cards. They needed someone who could write. He recalled how my mother, a teacher, was strict in handwriting during his old primary school days and he imagined that I would never have missed a mark in that too. And he was right. A call and a meeting and an opportunity was born for me. I made Sh1,000 and this was to be my source of income for some time. I moved to hawking these cards and even making them,” shares Betty.

Betty with her children Dean Mwasere, BrownAngel Nyawira and Naldine Sere.

Turning point

In 2014, she got a part-time sales job at Boderless Company, a tracking company. It required her to travel to the western region every week while travelling back to be with her children during weekends. It was not easy, but on the third month she was making quite enough. On the fifth month, she was promoted to sales and customer care manager. Six months later she was appointed business development manager, given a company car and a lot of other privileges.

In October 2016, she was appointed general manager, Track and Trace Limited, a vehicle tracking, fleet management, fuel monitoring company. The challenge was that she was to start a division from scratch. The only thing she was given was a license. “I took up the challenge prayerfully. I was the only employee to start this off, but I had been given two co-workers who were supposed to support me as and when I needed them. In 2017, we set a plan, did ground breaking and hired a number of employees. I closed the year with about 15 colleagues,” narrates Betty.

Fast forward in January this year, she was appointed Managing Director of the company. Under her are more than 50 coworkers. “My job entails overall revenue generation management, staff motivation, management of annual goals, laying our strategy for growth and expansion of the business, overall policies and procedures implementations and stakeholders’ management. This requires a lot attention to details, discipline, consistency, accountability and good knowledge of my employees to allow them work freely to their full capacity for us to achieve our full productivity,” she says.

AT A GLANCE

• Betty Muthoni pursued Certified Public Accountants (CPA) at Visions Institute of Professionals.

• She walked out of her marriage with three children after being neglected, and physically and mentally abused.

• Her never-say- die attitude and faith in God saw her through difficult moments.

• Having been brought up by a single mum after her father passed on while she was still a child, also went a long way in strengthening her resolve into adulthood.

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Business

I quit computers for my passion in beauty industry

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Beauty and matters skincare are mainly associated with women with most men shying away from the fast-growing sector.

Mwangi Kamau has, however, gone against the grain and made a name in the female-dominated field.

Mr Kamau, who is the proprietor of Blush On Skincare Limited, a Nairobi-based company dealing with cosmetics, has been in the field for 10 years offering solutions to skin problems.

“I always wanted to be in the medical field dealing with human beings or animals, but along the way I found myself doing computer science. But I realised I did not have passion for computers. I really wanted to help for better health and wellbeing,” says the 37-year old cosmetologist and a skincare consultant.

In 2006, he joined a cosmetology college where he graduated with a diploma, enabling him to secure a job as a beauty consultant for eight years. This made him develop more interest. In 2015, he went to Italy to do a two-year course, specialising in skincare.

“After doing computer science I realised that I still wanted to be a health practitioner.”

Having sharpened his skills and knowledge in Italy, he returned home with a dream of stating a business.

“I started the business in 2017 August after getting disappointed by my employer and also realising that I would actually achieve my dream better if I had freedom to work round the clock and engage with clients who have issues in different parts of the world,” he says.

Starting out, he tells Enterprise, was a big challenge as he didn’t have enough capital to run an office. This made him to start off online which was very tough. However, this was by no means easy.

“Online marketing also demanded money to be effective.”

His work as a skincare expert entails consultation, training and products. He also offers consultation to pharmacies and beauty clinics as well as training in makeup and basic skin knowledge.

“I also have a cosmetics line that I recommend to my clients,” adds Mr Kamau.

The entrepreneur says cosmetology is a well-paying career but depends on how one ventures into it; as a side job or full time occupation.

He makes between Sh80,000 and Sh120,000 monthly and has two permanent employees and four on temporary terms.

“For me, it’s the main deal and I get good amount that caters for my needs and also to save and invest for my family,” he notes.

Some of the charges for his services include skincare consultation at Sh1,000, facial treatments at Sh3,500, face makeovers from Sh3,000, depending on the event, personal make-up classes at Sh5,000 and professional types go for Sh5,000 per session.

He said his plan is to come up with better platforms to enlighten people on the best skincare to get when they are purchasing products and what ingredients to watch out for by also coming up with his line. This should be based on the safest but effective ingredients.

“My advice to anyone with this kind of passion but lacks confidence is to always have integrity and honesty. Then the rest will play in line and follow suit.”

Mr Kamau also trains young people, mainly in makeup.

“It’s always good to work with the community; so, I have empowered a few young people by training them mainly in make up as we work together and in return they get a retainer,” he told Enterprise.

By Business Daily

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Entertainment

Nick Mutuma: I do romantic movies for my female admirers

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Babe magnet, actor and film producer Nicholas Munene Mutuma better known as Nick Mutuma, has explained why he makes romantic movies.

The hunk, whose good looks drive many women crazy, says he develops such movies because of the ladies.

ROMANTIC MOVIES

Drawing comparison from American rapper and actor 50 Cent, Mutuma has revealed that he studied his market and realised most of his clients are ladies and as such, he is compelled to create or feature in content that they like and would want to see from him.

“50 Cent has done the take. What works with 50 is that he tells stories that are relatable to his target market. He knows what people want to see. So even for me a very common question I always get is ‘why do I always make romantic comedy’, ‘why do you always make movies that are more female skewed’. You know it’s understanding your market. These are the people who put food on my table,” Mutuma explained in a conversation with radio presenter Shaffie Weru.

IN A RELATIONSHIP

When asked how he keeps at bay ladies who are always thirsting for his attention the 6 foot lady-killer said he prefers staying at home if he ain’t working.

He was however quick to put a disclaimer stating that he is in a relationship with actress Bridget Shighadi.

“Every time I talk about this stuff she is normally upset because she is a very private person. She doesn’t like her stuff out there. I’m in a relationship, I’m a dad and I’m gonna leave it at that,” the actor said.

Mutuma and Bridget have been together for years now and are blessed with a two-year-daughter Dua.

By Nairobi News

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