Hmmm…Riiight. Like I can even attempt to answer that question with any sort of authority. Although a friend recently called me the East African Carrie Bradshaw during a late night Facebook chat (you can imagine the kind of stories we were swapping ;-)), I’ll have to decline the title because it’s simply not true. Nonetheless, I have recently realized that I have been on at least one date with men from each of the five East African countries (and had relationships with men from four of these), so neither am I entirely clueless on the subject.
Still, East Africa is vast and diverse, and my experience is only one experience. Therefore, I won’t pretend to hold the answer to this question. Rather, I suggest we make this a group effort: I’ll share my experience in this post first, then you can share yours in the comment section below. Together, hopefully, we can paint an accurate picture of what it’s like to date in East Africa. Cool? Ok, here goes.
Dating in Nairobi
I spent the majority of my twenties in Nairobi, so it’s not surprising that this is the East African city in which I have had the most dating experience. For most of the time that I lived there, my girls and I LOVED to complain about how horrible Kenyan guys were. In our opinion, they were not gallant enough, suave enough, and well, they just didn’t know how to treat women well. Since we were living in Nairobi, however, and were surrounded mostly by Kenyan men, we did what we could. If we couldn’t beat them, then we just had to join them (though I must admit I dated more Ugandan men than the average Nairobi gal because 1) I am part Ugandan and 2) because Ugandan men, in my opinion, did know how to treat women well).
A Chance Occurrence Changes My Attitude
One Saturday, when I didn’t have much to do, I stopped by Textbook Centre at Sarit to run an errand. There, I spotted a book called The Surrendered Single (whose subtitle read: A practical guide to attracting and marrying the right man for you – what?!), which featured a hip, ladylike cartoon character (phone in hand) on its cover that had me a little intrigued. Half-jokingly, I bought the book and headed home for a leisurely Saturday of reading.
The book was rather interesting (understatement of the year! :-)), and though I found it a little conservative, it made me think twice about how we, “modern young women”, deal in our interactions with men.
To keep a long story (very) short, the book changed me profoundly, especially with regard to how I relate on the dating scene. Much to my surprise, seemingly overnight, I seemed to no longer be surrounded by the “badly behaved” men that I so loved to complain about; instead, my datebook filled up with dates with perfectly sweet and gentlemanly (mostly Kenyan) men. This got me thinking: could the bad behavior that Nairobi women so often complain about in Nairobi guys have something to do with how these same women behave? I am still mulling it over but it seems that I’m not the only one to have considered the thought (check out All the Single Ladies). Maybe it’s a chicken-and-egg thing.
Anyhow, I’ve since learned the error of my ways and no longer stereotype whole groups of men, or women, based on their nationality (no matter how tempting it is :-)). The dating scene in any country is made up of individuals, and dating experiences will be as varied as the individuals involved (am I being too P.C. here? LOL ;-)).
But that’s just me. I’d like to hear from you: In your opinion, what’s dating like in your corner of East Africa? What is your experience of men and/or women where you live? What are common dating practices in your area?
Before I sign off, allow me to share some links that I found on the subject. I hope you find these as interesting as I did, and hopefully, they might cause you to consider points of view that you may never have considered before. If they raise any thoughts that you would like to share (keeping in mind the value of being respectful and tolerant of others), then I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below.
- How the East African Community Will Affect Social Relations – an interesting look at what increased interaction between East African countries will mean for interpersonal relating
- If It Benefits ‘Common’ Men and Women, Hail This Market– not exactly about dating but still an interesting commentary by Charles Onyango-Obbo that touches on male-female interaction
- KENYA: Dating dilemmas: Risk rejection or stick to positive partners? and Joanna: “Dating is hectic, so I put a personal ad in the paper”– reflections on HIV-positive dating in Kenya and Uganda, respectively
- One Gay Man’s Adventures in Uganda and A Gay Wedding. In Uganda! – two gay perspectives both about Uganda, the first one written by a foreigner, the second by a Ugandan
- OyungaPala.com – I can’t say enough about how much I LOVE to read Oyunga Pala. Check out his blog for the perspective of a straight-talking Kenyan man who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is!
- Why are Rwandan men scared of modern women? – an interesting Facebook discussion on the relational challenges faced by “modern” Rwandan women
Otherwise, that’s it from me. I wish you a fantastic end to your week and look forward to reading your comments.
Until the next time,