- Gender and Relationships
Deadbeat Fathers Undergo Public Roasting
A Woman is Coming after You
Women Roasting Men
The articles have pinpoint precision and no holds barred. There are photographs, telephone numbers, descriptions of occupations and lifestyles and gory details. Men are being exposed mercilessly to the public eye on a most international forum, and there is nowhere to hide. Welcome to Dead Beat Kenya, the page where dead beat dads are being roasted in full public view, by women who have internalized bitterness for a long time. There is no longer any place to hide the secrets of a relationship gone awry, leaving a baby or two in tow, except in the open.
When Jackson Njeru launched the Facebook [FB] page “Dead Beat Kenya” this September 2014, he did not have an idea just how far it would go. Now it has gone viral. The idea was to offer single parents, ladies and gents, a forum in which they would expose their former lovers, who fled and left them to raise children on their own. If there are any men who have been abandoned with children by their responsibility skipping spouses, then none has come up to complain so far. It is not that such men do not exist. There are common cases of women who walk away from marriages, leaving the husband behind to take care of their brood. Moreover, Kenya has the Luhya tribe. Their culture allows single girls to abandon babies at the doorsteps of the fathers, to take care for the rest of the baby’s life.
The other side of the coin, single women eking out a living for their father-abandoned babies, did not miss a beat. They came out with both barrels blazing, and exposed the irresponsible men who had left them to their own devices. Furthermore, they came fully armed with all the gory details. The ladies had in tow high definition photographs of the men they were talking about, which left no doubt as to their identity. To further show that they knew what they were on about, they gave the job descriptions of the men in question, their jet-set lifestyles and their public figure status.
Macho Men Exposed
The macho victims of the exposure included lawyers, politicians, music superstars, rugby players, TV presenters, business nabobs and renowned wheeler-dealers. Since the men in question are well known figures, the page went viral as all sorts of people began commenting on it. At the time of writing this, the page had only existed for a short time, but it is already clear that more faces will be joining the page soon, for public roasting.
The page is so effective because public figures generally have a lot of face to lose in such exposés. Some of them, like the politicians, are also keenly aware that the daughters of eve constitute the largest bloc of voters, and may send them packing come elections in 2017. So their very careers hang in the balance due to this exposé. Even where the gentlemen have no immediate danger facing their careers, they lose some of the spick and span image they have so carefully cultivated in the public eye, by keeping all the skeletons neatly packed in the closet. Therefore, the public display by the ladies is hurting the men more than they care to admit. Given that almost all men have a past, it is impossible to tell who will be next. This has created a silent apprehension among the men-folk in the country, as the clock continues to tick and more faces and stories appear. Nobody, knows where it is all going to end, we just hope no one gets hurt, since some men have tendency to violence.
But Exposure to What End
What do the women hope to gain from exposing their men in such a gruesome manner? Well, they only hope to shame the men and gain some measure of retribution. There isn’t a brown coin they are likely to receive from the men, who will be further antagonized by these antics. However, it will give the sisters a measure of satisfaction, that they have unruffled the feathers of these otherwise unresponsive men, and thus scored a point. Moreover, they will have placed a permanent blot on the deceptive cover that the men give the public, about how responsible they are.
However, one may wonder what makes women go to such great lengths, just to expose the men they were willing to go to bed with, in the not too distant past. The reason is well explained by some of the complainants. Kenya has very strict laws that govern children. All a woman needs to do is to go to the children’s department anywhere in the country and lodge a complaint. The matter is then taken to court, where if found guilty of causing abandonment, the man will be forced to pay a monthly stipend for the baby’s upkeep. This law has worked for some women, but the slow wheels of justice are still turning endlessly clumsily for others. The main complaint that emerged from some of the ladies on “Dead Beat Kenya” is that, the men in question are very rich and powerful and so they use their influence to slow down the course of justice, through unlimited court adjournments.
However, the matter of unnecessary adjournments may have happened in the era predating the new 2010 constitution, and so some of the women, with older children, may have been affected. In current times, expediting of court cases is the norm, so that cannot be the reason for those who got babies recently. The bigger problem that the ladies did not mention, is that some of them are not aware of their right to lodge legal complaints, or are simply not willing to do so. Others did not want anything to do with the men who abandoned them and so they avoided meeting them during such cases. So when the FB page came along, it came in handy for them to hit back, without getting embroiled in a direct face-off. They took full advantage of the opportunity.
Hypocrisy in the Mix
There is even a bigger problem with the legal option. According to one Children’s Officer who did not wish to be named, there are ladies who lie about the father of their child, just to get free money to raise them. Complaints by such women have failed the scrutiny test, especially when the “father” insists that a DNA test be carried out to establish paternity. Many of the female complainants disappear at that point. These incidences have made the Children’s Department weary and closer scrutiny is now carried out on every complaint lodged. Some of the women involved are not necessarily saints and so they become apprehensive when asked about other relationships they have on the side. Such women have gone on to warn others that the legal system in cumbersome and meddlesome, hence the unwillingness to partake of the process by some faint hearted souls.
The scenario of false accusations by ladies has caused a genuine fear in some men, that they are likely to be victims on the FB page. This is the biggest weakness of the expose currently unfolding, and one that Njeru himself may not have foreseen when he launched the page. There is no way of stopping women driven purely by hatred, malice or jealousy from defaming men they do not like. Others may be motivated to extort some money from the bigwigs through such false claims. Nevertheless, there is no denying that most of the complaints are genuine.
Men Are Very Unhappy
Comments by men on the page naturally show little sympathy for the women, with many being accused of being hypocrites, who knowingly engaged in an illegitimate relationship with married rich men for monetary gain. They state that such women got what was coming to them when they were abandoned. The women commentaries are however, more varied, with some urging the complainants to ignore the men and raise the children on their own the way they have so far. Others are more religious encouraging the single mothers to seek divine rather than human intervention.
Given that this is not a uniquely Kenyan problem, and it has gone viral on the internet, it won’t be long before other countries get the drift and launch similar campaigns too. So expect a “Dead Beat” page somewhere near you. Then of course you could be next if you have a past. No matter what, this is a forum women must have, if only to vent out pent up emotions.