All advice about manliness when boiled right down to stock, whether about ‘the length of cuff one should show when wearing a tuxedo’ or ‘how to please a woman’ can be summed up with the suggestion: ‘Don’t be a dick.’
Don’t go along with racism and religious bigotry. Don’t ignore rape jokes shouted by strangers on the bus. Don’t look away from school boys being bullied outside your estate gate, or women being shouted at from cars on hot days; don’t be a dick.
At work, when a female colleague tells you she feels like she’s being treated differently because she’s a woman, don’t write it off, just because it’s not your experience. Don’t gaze off into the Nairobi skyline and wait for her to finish, or – my personal favorite ignoring device in the office, which is when I stare dramatically through the window as though thinking of something weighty and serious like world peace. Or whisky. Don’t assume a crying woman is ‘hysterical’. Though many are. Don’t tell her to calm down when she’s talking about something she cares about. Unless she is taking it too far. When spending time with your kid or kids, don’t call it ‘babysitting’. Don’t make judgements about people based on how they look. Don’t be a dick.
When you split up with your girlfriend, if you were one of those idiot couples who have naked pictures of each other on your phone or computer, delete them. And before you break up, when you are still in the throes of wild, sweaty passion, be thoughtful, be generous. Do the things you know she likes. Make her feel good. Don’t be a dick.
Don’t eat all the food. Don’t drink all the alcohol. Replace the juice, and the toilet paper, and the light bulbs. Remember birthdays, anniversaries, and that people close to you have relatives and friends dying. Have difficult conversations even when you don’t want to – offer help, accommodation, food, money to friends who are having bad times, talk about things they want to talk about. Have their back. Don’t be a dick.
Side with your boys. Bros before hoes is a time tested piece of advice, spanning from when some descendant of Adam’s first pulled a dick move in something like 10,000 BC. Stick to it. When your boy and his girl fall out, for whatever reason, stick to your boy’s side. Believe what he tells you about it. Don’t question, doubt and try to verify. Cause that makes you one of the girls. Specifically, it makes you a bitch. More specifically, it makes you that displeasing species of human being known as a bitch nigga. Don’t be a dick.
Give way on the roads if you are driving. Let pedestrians cross. It will only cost you a moment or two, but to someone else it means loads. Don’t smoke with the windows shut. Unless you are hotboxing. Be considerate on public transport – don’t stretch your legs so wide mpaka guys think that your vagina is dilated like you’re on the verge of giving birth. Without an epidural. Even if you are big bodied, be considerate of your fellow passengers. And if you don’t want the window open then don’t fucking sit next to it.
Don’t be petty. Don’t value material things over friends and family. Apologise when you have fucked up. Keep your word. Or at least make a sincere effort to. Don’t give unsolicited advice. Don’t tell people what you think of them, unless they specifically ask. Be so busy improving your own life so that you have no time to criticize the lives of others. Don’t start your sentences, with “No offence, but…” Because it will cause offence. And you know that it will. Don’t move the goalposts in an argument with your boy or your woman about something simple, so that the fight becomes about the whole of your lives, and your time together and the futility of sex, trust, second chances and respect.
The times we live in need more manly men than ever before.
Be a man. Please. Don’t be a dick.