FOR 2022, LET US STOP THIS CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT MADNESS

It is the last day of the year and coincidentally it falls on a Friday. So well, in the spirit of feel good Friday, I decide to meet the boyz and talk about the year in general. Look here, for the past 364 days, we have been busy bustling in our different areas of academia and now that we have gotten some little time, why not wind up in high spirits. I get myself to a local joint to chill with fellow big boyz who were already there. We order some nyama choma (roasted meat). To accompany the foursquare conversation that we are about to have, very cold throat sanitizers are brought, and now these young elders can now start the conversation. Many other people have thronged this venue to end their year in style too and we can hear the blaring music of Ohangla high rising star Prince Indah in the background. As we enjoy our roasted meats and both soft and hard drinks (save for me, I only took soft drinks), jokes are flowing freely as we tease one another. Of course you know when you are out with the boyz, the vibe is always natural and free flowing. To put it right into context, we are four in these feast cum end year party. On the very right side of the table there is Mike who just landed recently from his US based college after spending almost the entire over there and he cannot stop telling us how beautiful those Caucasians girls are and that if we ever need any white girl then he is the right plug. Well, this is mesmerizing because he himself is as single as Lot’s wife, or is a case of kinyozi hajinyoi (a barber does not cut his own hair).  Next to him is Kevo, and you all know the legendary tale of the fellas called Kevo, and I do not wish to repeat myself but for the interest of the few who do not know, Kevo is a short form of Kevin and I kid you not, these guys have a way to charm girls and our squad’s Kevo is not an exception because just as we talked, he was breaking up with two girls and already preparing two others for his bed warming ceremony for the new year. For sure, luck is selective. In the middle is yours truly and today is not mine to talk about who I am, and finally to my left is Manuu. Manuu is a short form of Emmanuel. Until recently, he used to accompany his mum to church but I do not know what happened because of late he prefers to hang around night discos. I will try and have him explain before this bash ends what exactly happened because the entire squad depends on him to represent us in the heaven gates and beseech the guards at that gate to allow us in because apart from probably stealing teachers’ left overs in high school, we do not have any other big sin that would warrant us to burn in the everlasting fire, but as things stand, we might all be headed down the abbys to burn with sulphur, hopefully things will change. Still on Manuu, sometimes last year, the heavens gifted him with a girlfriend. He was finally out of the streets after being a long time chairman of the single people and we always called him the Mugabe of Single and Lonely souls Association. For once in his life, he got someone to call him bae and we were all happy for him. Manuu and our sister in law were so much in love that they had their IG bios shouting to all and sundry that nothing can separate them except death. Our boy Manuu used to post his girl almost daily, professing is undying love to her. As the committee, we were happy and awed at the same time because finally we had a point of reference on matters love. Through them, we got a solace that at least true love still exists.  Time went by and Manuu stopeed posting his girl. He had ejected the girl’s photo from his Profile pictures and the sweet bio was no longer in existence. He also restrained 33 from giving us updates about his everlasting elationship and for the longest time, I thought Manuu was just chezaring chini ( playing low) probably because too much of limelight might be dangerous or probably because the noneymoon had ended and there was nolonger the excitement to make the entire world know about his personal life.

In spirit of dynamic brotherhood, and without any ill will or malicious intentions, I silenced all the boyz and looked straight to Manuu’s wide eyes and asked him about the whereabouts of our sister in law. My question was supported with a similar energy from the boyz who all noted the conspicuous absence of our God sent sister in law. However, what followed after my question completely destroyed our party. As soon as I asked Manuu about his lass, tears of despondency started to cascade down his thin cheeks. Wait a minute, who starts crying when asked about the love of their life? I got a handkerchief and wiped his tears, and tried comforting him and asking what could have gone wrong, amidst his sobs. “Bros, girls are not good people…” he started his address which was very emotional. He told us how our daughter in law, or is it the former daughter in law dumped him in the most uncouth and uncultured of ways. I was tempted to ask whether there exists cultured dumping. As he wept uncontrollably, he went on to tell us how one day, the girl just decided to ghost him even without a word. His efforts to reach out proved futile as the girl’s phone went unanswered. In a way to express his love, he took all the risks a man can make and trooped at his girl’s home, completely ignoring the possibility of being chased away by his future father in law. He narrated to  us that when he got there, the girl who had promised to walk down the aisle with him told him with utter contempt that she was a girl of the streets and that after a long soul searching, she had decided to get back to where her hearts truly belongs- in the streets. She however gave our boy a little reprieve when he told him that even though her gold mines will be accessible to any willing buyer in the streets, he too could still get a share because if anything, they are not related. She went on to tell our bro that he sees him as nothing but a brother, but since the wet crack is not soap that diminishes after use, he was free to get some share, of course after the big boyz in the streets had eaten to their fill. When he asked this lass why she had decided to date him while she knew very well that she is reserved for the streets, her answer was rather appalling and calm. She replied to him that she was just trying to see if the streets spirit is off her, but apparently after six months of seeing, she had come to the conclusion that if indeed you can have one, then having many is by all means normal.


The next part of the story was extremely exhilarating. Even though we could feel his pain, we could not help but burst into laughter as he described how he felt after this dumping. Look at it this way, he was dumped at the living room of the parents to his girl. He was completely not expecting it, and it was done in the most belittling manner, mean the girl did not even try to hide this hard facts. This is what we call triple tragedy. Our boy wished that the ground could open and swallow him alive. He tells us that for the first time, he hallucinated, not because he was high of weed, but then because he was seeing his own things. He did not know whether to wail, walk out calmly, lament … he was completely shocked. He tells us that on that evening, the journey back to his house was the longest and seemed like a trip to Pluto. That is not all, according to Manuu’s description, a heartbreak is something he wouldn’t even wish his worst enemy. He tells us that for a week, he was bedridden and could hardly eat. He stopped going to school and at one point, he started loitering in the streets asking himself questions upon questions. In his head, it was like beasts roaring because he always woke up well before 3  am to trying to negotiate with the gods of love to at least soften the heart of his soulamate. He goes on to tell us that at one point, he was so down that he almost took his life because he could not entertain a life without his soulmate. His family then booked some therapy sessions for him and took months to become better he is on this day. Looking at his face, indeed his weight had reduced extremely. After his story, I was confused, and I did not know how to react.  And this brings us to our topic on this last day of 2021. Boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, as we enter 2022, let us drop the spirit of Character Development (Character development is a Kenyan slang for romantic heartbreaks). To bring you up to speed, the meeting is apparently ongoing and we have ordered more drinks for Manuu as we console him. Kevo has promised to play a wingman for him and get him a lass before the ten days of 2022 elapse. Manuu has also agreed to go back to church, and so apparently, we are safe to negotiate at the heavens gate.


2021 generally has been a year of Character development. Boys, girls, ladies, gentlemen, the poor, the rich, the handsome, the not so handsome, the pretty, the not so pretty, the dark skinned, the light skinned….literally everybody has been admitted at the dreaded Kenya Institute of Character Development (a slang to mean the recovery period of unrequited affection). Apart from Manuu, I know a dozen other friends who have faithfully partaken classes at the ‘KICD’. People have cried, people have suffered, people have cursed the days they were born and unfortunately, we have lost some because of the K constant of Character Development. What worries me more are the destructive effects that Character Development mete on its survivors. You see, the lessons learnt at Kenya Institute of Character Development are not those of innocent love, or love is beautiful, or everyone deserves love. KICD lessons are brutal, excruciating and onerous to say the least. This are the lessons that transforms a real human into a monster. Character Development creates the toxic and wild side of a person. After successfully completing classes at KICD, there are three expected results. A graduate can either go back to his former beliefs that love is a beautiful thing, but at the risk of being brought to KICD again and trust you me, this group has the least members. The next group of graduates are those who swore that love is a scam and that the heart is only mandated to pump blood. This group come out of KICD as the most toxic and hard cores. They then embark on a journey to dish character developments to people out there without a second thought. To them, love becomes another alien word in the dictionary. This group accounts for the largest graduates at this dreaded institution of character development. The last group is that of people who decide to take an indefinite leave from matters love, and pull their efforts on other things. To this group, their belief on love is slim but they somehow believe that someone can love them in the future.


From the stories I have heard of those who attended this institution, the experience is not one to be marveled at. And indeed, heartbreaks and unrequited love are not light to any person and can have far reaching effects. Meghan Laslocky, a renowned author and expert says that heartbreaks pains are processed in the same area of the brain with physical pain and it can be as fatal to brain development just as any physical pain. Heartbreaks can also be debilitating and end up to cause stroke or heart attacks, character development as it is known in the streets also leads to appetite changes, weight loss or gain, headache, stomach pains and general state of unwellness. It can also reduce motivation.  Depression, anxiety attacks and social withdrawal are some of other greater impacts of Character development. Character development also has far reaching psychological effects such as PTSD and that is why most graduates of KICD tend to become toxic and plunge into a series of revenge missions. Therefore, as you can see, the effects of Character Development in all essence can be likened to attempted murder in terms of pain and despondency that it brings forth. Luckily for attempted murder you can be prosecute your aggressor before a court of law, but for Character Development, the only option is to attend your classes faithfully at the Kenya Institute of Character Development.


Let me not be gotten wrong, I am not saying love escapades cannot end, of course they do end. My only conflict is the upcoming trend where most people venture into the journey of romance full of ill intentions in guise of honesty. What such people fail to understand is that they are engaging human beings with feelings. They end up hurting such people so badly and make them go through untold pain. I believe that when someone gives you their heart, the commitment and sacrifice that they have shown is delicate and should not be taken for granted. The vulnerability that comes with love is untold. It is a huge risk, more than even that at Wallstreet during Fukushima Nuclear crisis.  It is disheartening to look at the stats of major causes of mental health illnesses and love with is supposed to be a beautiful thing is the one topping. Many young people wash away their productive years in recovering from heartbreaks and the effects that come with it. Therefore, as we head into 2022, let us be careful when entrusted with human heart. Another option is simply not get into the dating market until such a time when you are mature enough to be sure of your emotions and exactly what you want, instead of driving very innocent and virtuous people into Character Development.  It causes anguish and pain. Let us be good people and stop toxicity. In finalizing, I describe those dishing out character developments as inconsistent psychopaths and narcissists who need mental treatment because there is no way a normal person can grow so callous to a point of causing another person who they purport to love untold pain that equals to attempted murder.
In prosecuting the case, I invited Salmaa, a third year student at University of Nairobi, School of Law. Her perspective as a lady would be helpful, and this is what she had to write about it….


It might look bleak. All of it. The being vulnerable to another human being. The laying down of barriers so as to be raw and authentic. Being in love is stripping yourself in front of an individual. It’s baring of your soul, if that is something you believe in, and hoping they stay even after seeing your flaws and idiosyncrasies. You hope you don’t scare them because you wanna keep them.


In the game of love, you might not always be the winner. You might lose countless times until it feels like you will never find the one who is right for you. So as to protect yourself, you either pretend to be numb and close yourself off from giving or receiving love. This is the defense mechanism after being hurt. Which is understandable because heartbreaks are in no way, shape or form pretty. Especially if you are the one who was giving it all. But not acting on your feelings beat the whole purpose of life. As humans, the only way to truly live, not just exist is by loving and being loved.
A mistake that my generation makes is measuring love. Phrases like ‘Usimwonyeshe unampenda sana kwa sababu atamea pembe‘ (Don’t show your partner too much affection because if they notice, they will take it for granted) are very common. While I understand this is a safety measure, but as Chevaun Benjamin says, love was never meant to be safe or measured. In that accord, love proudly, loudly and irrationally. If it does not work, know that you tried at least. Believe that you will love again and hopefully his time round it will work because something about the heart is that it repairs however long it takes. You let yourself feel all this pain until it goes away. It is not an easy process but one that is necessary.
“You forget them by not trying to forget
You hoist that pain onto your back and keep your eyes forward
You cry and step. Cry and step. Cry and step.
You cling to joy –no matter how small
Art that moves you
Conversations that unlock you
Walks that connect you back to earth
You sit when you need to
Allow the grief to scream and punch until it’s drained itself” L.E Bowman.


Thank you for reading the final piece of the year 2021. See you on the other side of the bridge. Happy New Year 2021. Thank you for reading.

By Lincoln Oyugi

Just as Isaac Newton died a virgin, I'll die a writer!

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