Sorry sir am not wife material

When I was 18, I briefly
worked at my uncle’s laundry
in Isiolo. One of the regular
customers was a tall, well-
groomed moran, fond of
dressing in Savco jeans and
polo shirts.
Like every girl can tell, I knew
from the way he looked at me,
to the way he held my hand
longer than necessary, that
Selengei (not his actual name)
was interested in me.
Then he seemed old, but now
when I think about it, he
might just have been in his
Selengei liked to ask me all
sorts of questions, like what
food I liked to cook, if I had
younger siblings, and whether
I had looked after them when
they were babies.
Safe questions you would want
a young man to ask your 18-
year-old daughter. But then
one day, as I neatly folded his
clean pair of jeans, he said; “I
am looking for a wife.” “Is she
lost?” I shot back.
He paused, looked at me in
surprise, then shook his head.
“So bad. Bad.” He said, still
looking at me in a rather
pitiful way. “What is so bad?”
I asked.
“You.” He said.
Though I felt hurt, I did not
respond. A teenage girl wants
to hear good things about
herself, especially from a man.
“Those books you read. They
have messed you up!” he
continued, pointing at a novel
I had earlier been engrossed
“You can make a good wife,
but you must stop reading
those books. They make you
big-headed, and my wife can
never speak to me the way
you just did.”
I was shocked by his outburst,
but I held back a torrent of
retorts that threatened to
erupt. Back then, morans were
said to carry a small sword,
which they did not hesitate to
unsheathe when need arose.
“How old are you?” he asked
me. I still did not reply. “Are
you circumcised?” he
continued, unflinching.
“Excuse you!?” I screamed,
quite horrified.
“I know girls from your tribe
are not circumcised.”
“It is barbaric and stupid…”
“Perfect. I want a girl with
basic education and one who
is not circumcised. That is
why I want to marry you,”
pronounced my suitor, who
promptly withdrew his
proposal when I told him that
I was joining university that
I was reminded of this
incident the other day when a
former colleague, a bachelor in
his 40s, challenged me to hook
him up with a woman who
would become his wife, when
I chided him about his single
“But not too learned. You
empowered women are not
wife material.”
I wonder, what does wife or
husband material mean? Some
men enjoy the company of an
outgoing, brilliant, ambitious,
and bold Suzie, but when it
comes to marriage, they go for
the meek, shy, naïve, soft-
spoken Jane because that is
who they presume to be wife
Then they spend the rest of
their miserable married life
missing or chasing Suzie.
We all have different
personalities, therefore we
should just accept each other
as we are. Wife material does
not exist — one man’s poison
is another’s meat. Even if
Suzie tried to be a soft-spoken
Jane, it would be short-lived.
Her true self would eventually
emerge. One of my favourite
couples met in a night club
and basically spent their
dating and first years of
marriage clubbing.
Thankfully, at some point,
they outgrew the club scene,
but they still enjoy an easy
friendship and companionship.
She is a Suzie, with degrees
and chairs board meetings.
She is not only a joy to hang
around with, but she is a
great cook too. She is
definitely his wife material.
Who says empowered women
cannot make excellent