YOU GUY MY GUY.
If you've been reading my blog then you are no stranger to the amount of love I harbour towards men. The amount of thirst that I have towards this other gender and the issues they face. Men have intrigued me for a very long time. I have always wanted to know the feeling that these beings who’ve been painted as trash or sometimes dogs possess. It's because of this that when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it and created an even dubbed YOU GUY MY GUY to discuss the issues that have impacted men during the pandemic period.
I was able to nub three gentlemen from diverse professionals, among them was Dan Aceda an award-winning artist, Muchiri Nyagah an executive director ILDRI and Amani Maranga a communicator, moderator and the face behind the Living truthfully podcast. The men were just as eager to open in and share manhood in this era. We set the ball rolling at 11.20 a.m, each us with a cup on the side in frame for the virtual meeting. The meeting was divided into three different sessions the first session would tackle the effect of the pandemic on the panellist's different income streams. The second would target the stress, burden the pandemic had incurred on the men's mental health, the final session gave mention to the lessons leant from the pandemic.
EFFECTS OF THE PANDEMIC ON INCOME STREAMS.
We touched on the effect that the pandemic has had on the different income streams which in general has caused faltering effects on the world economy. For Dan, he has had to diversify his live performance music from different stages to a virtual stage on his Instagram live via STUDIO TISA which is his studio. “Kenyans don't buy albums neither are they used to pay for viewing hence working online does not bring anything for me.” The entertainment industry at the moment is down all we can do is wait”, he said.
Muchiri Nyagah, who is in the realms of power with not only himself but employees to think about he has had to encourage working from home for his employees during this period. His main focus at the moment is to get funding to keep ILDRI afloat during this period. This is proving to be rather though as at the moment all the funding is being directed to COVID-19 response. He mentioned the need to find solutions for his people and how difficult it is for men in power possession like him. “One not only thinks of the landlords for his home and the organization's office but his employees as well,” said Muchiri. There's a need to protect jobs and try to keep people employed, this is a burden that he has to carry at least in their minds.
For Amani, he has been trying to find ways to pivot his job during this period. Having gotten no speaking or operating gigs in the pandemic, he is learning ways of staying relevant and bringing his work to the virtual space. A move that according to him is not as easy as it sounds.
MEN, MENTAL HEALTH AND COVID-19.
“Our African context does not allow a man to acknowledge stress or emotion among his peers hence we keep it shut”, Dan Aceda. Coming from a culture where men are allowed to speak out, its difficult to articulate the emotions at hand as one is focused on the big problems at hand and the tiny ones are a trigger. As much as the culture does not allow for decompression, one needs to acknowledge the place they are at and move on their own. He pointed out the importance of decompressing and stepping back and strategising before embarking on the next move.
“ As a man and the cash cow of the family, my triggers have become more sensitive during this period, not because there's a problem but because of the many issues that need my attention all at once, said a distressed Dan Aceda. At the moment, the men seem to have found creative ways of engaging and staying sane in both their business and at home. There still exists some anxiety and uncertainty but as men, they have found ways of pivoting their lives holistically during this uncertain time.
On domiciliary, the men came to a consensus that they take up the domestic tasks at home to best of their ability.
”I will help out when I can, however, nobody should assume entitlement in another time in that rigid way when it comes to helping out around the house” Dan Aceda.
This came up majorly because the men as mentioned during the event have their own tasks, they have work which is just as important as the domestic work. Within the pandemic period, a number of divorce cases have been recorded, in response to this, the men touched on the challenges that have come with staying home with the partner and being in each other's faces daily. There has had to be negotiations and reconsideration in how couples related before the pandemic. Most of this stems from the entitlement that both partners had on each other i.e healing out at home and staying with the kids.
“We had to come up with a way that will work for the both of us during this period more so because we don't have help and I’m spending a lot of time at home” ~Muchiri Nyagah.
The men had a message to their significant others. They wanted to pass across a message to them during this period. Amani Maranga alluded to the importance of men being around their boys, having a safe space that allows men to let loose by themselves. This safe space according to Amani cannot be filled by women, it's a natural phenomenon that just as women need their girl's men to need time with the boys and this has nothing to do with the woman. Muchiri broached on the coping mechanism subject and fears. “A foolish far is fear nonetheless and it should be heard and not ridiculed.”A man feelings should be acknowledged by the partner and the people around him. This will allow him to open up more and make him comfortable sharing instead of shutting the world out. “
“I see you, I hear you ,I acknowledge you,I understand your struggle and i’m here to support you” Muchiri Nyagah.
MEN AND THERAPY.
The topic of therapy was brought up in a society where men are not allowed to speak out a means of decompressing is paramount. All of them came to an agreement that everybody needs some form of therapy. The kind of therapy that one that makes speaks to a person and not the conventional counsellor- patient method. The different forms of therapy like music, sports, exercise, cooking and a casual heart to heart is paramount for every man and we should all be sensitized enough to allow this
LESSONS FROM COVID-19.
The men shared the lessons that the pandemic has taught them. My take-home from the pandemic is adapting, we have to not only adapt to changes but adapt at a fast rate. This period has changed peoples way of thinking and manoeuvring, we need to stop having the career mentality and focus on being flexible”.On finances, the men mentioned the importance of saving not because of a rainy day, but because no one knows for how long the rainy day will last.
As a woman, who dared to take a dip in the men's pool, I have to to say that men just like women have been impacted during the pandemic. What better way of honouring that than being kind and compassionate to them?