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Solving relationship issues the African way

12 February 2015, 17:22 Shakila Alivitsa

Nairobi - When I was a child, obviously I used to watch movies and cartoons but I always wondered why those people in the movies would go talk to a stranger and tell them all their secrets and problems. As a child, I would think how that money they paid the therapist could have bought or paid for something they complained they did not have or could not afford. I would also think how they wasted time because it was an average of at least an hour which they could have spent doing something else. I also did think that those therapists were really clever because all they did was sit on a chair, listen to someone talk and get paid without all the hurdles of friendship or being called at odd hours to solve disputes. Either way, I thought the therapists were the winners and I wanted to be like them just sitting and getting paid.

Now that I am grown up, you would think that I have changed my perspective; but no, it is still the same. I am not worried about those who go to see one but I do not think I will ever see one. First of all I am a very suspicious person, in my head I am thinking how you now know some important deal that I need to close and you will tell someone about it or use it yourself. Another is that I still think like my seven year old self; that money could do something else. Either way, I am not seeing a therapist and I think a lot of us will never see a door of one. I have heard of counselling but there is someone I know who tells me they zoned out on their first session and never went back. Not very encouraging is it?

I do not know if the therapy business is thriving here in Kenya as it does oversees but I doubt it is that lucrative because Kenyans are generally a suspicious lot, you would rather die with it rather than be worried about that stranger touting about it. So what do we do?

If the marriage is not working, the women talk to the man’s relatives but the men opt to get another wife. The men are usually the satisfied lot because they can marry as many as they want on the other hand, the modern woman has the tools of divorce and taking half of what is his along with her.

If the children are not behaving; getting suspended and acting rude, the cane has been there since time immemorial. For the kawaida family, there are no video games and banning people from watching the television. My mother used to make us kneel on gravel and walk from the gate to the house and stay that way until she got bored or forgot about us. It was fun, trust me, we were a large group including cousins. At times she would make our dad use the cane because she was tired from work but my dad is no good at beating so he would make us beat each other. That got him bad looks from my mother. Point is the only therapy an African child is getting is from a cane or with masonry chores. I can list a bunch of creative ways my mother used to punish.

If school is not working out you either a) put up with it b) make up a lie of how the school has been failing so that you can be moved or c) complain but chances are you will be taken to a worse school. All three have happened to me. Our schools do not have the school psychiatrist or therapist.

At the end of the day, I think there is therapy but how well it is doing here in Kenya is just another story because we only reserve it for few traumatic situation and chances are the patients rarely do understand the point.


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