a-couple-kissing-in-sunlight

What’s Dating Like in East Africa?

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.

(Interested in learning something new but can’t take the time off to go back to school? Check out the 10 Most Popular Online Courses To Pursue In Sub-Saharan Africa.)

A couple on a date in NairobiAnyhow, 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.

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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!
  6. 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,
Biche

(In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, read Breastfeeding: Give Breast Milk to Newborns in the First Hour of Life for Full Benefits of Breastfeeding.)

25 thoughts on “What’s Dating Like in East Africa?”

  1. Havin dated across the region,except Tanzania where I am presently,I think Kenyan dating is agressive(go for gold!),Ugandans like it gentle, Rwandese&Burundians like to be romanced 70s style.

  2. Thanx for sharing Biche 🙂 I met some Ugandans this past weekend, one of them shares the same sentiments as Sam, that Kenyans are aggressive. I never really got a good explanation. But I heard that Ugandans and Tanzanians get along way better than they do with us Kenyans.
    Biche you should share these tips you learnt from the book, and also I’d like to ask what you think differs from the different East African men you have had a chance to interact with.

  3. Ah, Dating in East Africa…

    I can only give my perspective on dating in Ug: a little bewildering to say the least! I mean I’m all for meeting that special someone and someday deciding to spend the rest of your life if it all goes well but we don’t have to decide now, now NOW!!! I mean heh! That is the biggest problem that I have faced – people moving too fast: let me put you up in your own place, what do you think about having my baby, come meet my grandmother, etc., ALL before the third date, eh?!?!

    Ok, maybe I exaggerate… 🙂 In essence, I always feel that for these guys, getting to know ME is never high on their priority list, and this irks me to no end!

    1. What a great article Biche! I too – strictly for research purposes;) – have dated men of different nationalities in East Africa (Uganda). But being a muzungu (a Brit), have compared a Ugandan with a Ugandan-American, a muzungu American, a West African and a Dutchie. The verdict? For hotness factor, the Africans win, end of story! But being hot can be boring if you can’t entertain a lady’s brain too, so that novelty soon wears off. Compliments from Ugandan men make my day: they are so poetic! (And so unrealistic!) So what happened to the house overlooking Lake Victoria that you promised me on the 3rd date….? eh!
      When a Ugandan man likes a girl, they bombard you into submission: 5 SMS a day, phone calls and more … I speak the same dating language as European men (I think) – we know what the boundaries are – so that makes bazungu easier to date (but also kind of boring in a way!)
      One final word, they may be hot but at the end of the day they know it: the Ugandan man who does not already have a wife / girlfriend / numerous other ‘side dishes’ seems very rare. Shame 🙁

      1. LOL. Welcome to ChickAboutTown, Charlie. I am laughing because so much of what you say in your comment is true! Ugandan men sure know how to court women, and though you may know you’d be better off running in the opposite direction, it’s sometimes tempting not to…even if it’s just for a short while.

        Thanks for sharing your experiences! 🙂

  4. Hi All,

    Thanks for your comments.

    @Sam – So you haven’t dated in Tanzania yet (assuming you are single)? Have you started receiving texts from random women who you can’t even remember giving your number to yet? LOL. I see this happen to my brother all the time, and I find it simply hilarious! 🙂

    @nkirdizzle – Sorry, I am going to stick to my P.C. statement: “I’ve since learned the error of my ways and no longer stereotype whole groups of men, or women, based on their nationality“…at least on the record. I’ll send you email as soon as I’m done writing this comment. 😉

    @Gish – Hear, hear! Now expound on your statement: “There are good men left that i can testify”. 🙂

    @Vive – The whole time I was writing this post, I was waiting to see what you’d write as a comment. Your comment has made me laugh! 🙂 And I can so relate. I recently went on a date that I felt wasn’t going too well. To put it mildly, chap was not a gifted conversationalist. Nonetheless, at the end of it all he told me ninataka tuwewote, basically he was saying he wanted us to be together. In my mind, I was like: Based on what? What do you even know about me? Anyhow…:-)

    Biche

  5. Hi KenyanDating,

    Welcome to ChickAboutTown!

    Thanks for the link to your blog/post. I think you’ve got a good idea there and I look forward to reading more about your perspective of dating in Kenya.

    Just to be clear, as I mentioned in my post, I no longer hold the idea that Kenyan men do not know how to treat women. My experience has shown me that it’s all about the Kenyan men one chooses to interact with and how one behaves when interacting with those men. That’s my story and I am sticking to it! 🙂

    Thanks for your feedback!

  6. Interesting topic. Having been lived in east Africa, i think Ugandan man take the cup. Kenyans are too aggressive and recently i fell in love with Tanzanian the men not so much.

  7. For the last 11 months I have been in a relationship with a Kenyan. He has been very sweet, romantic and caring so far. We are taking this relationship one day at a time. So far its 2 thumbs up for me:-)

  8. Hi Sweets,

    Welcome to ChickAboutTown! Thanks for you input. May your relationship continue to go as well as you say it is so far! 🙂 Goes to show there are good Kenyan men out there! 🙂

    B.

  9. Hello Biche,

    so glad I’ve found your post. Your link about Rwandan men doesn’t work unfortunately, what’s the name of the page on Facebook?

    Lately I have realised that me not being raised with the culture is obviously a dealbreaker to Rwandan men. I was born in Rwanda but didn’t grow up there nor in an Rwandan household nor any other Rwandans so my visit 3 years ago made me discover plenty of things. Personality-wise I’m actually very similar to people in Rwanda.

    Back to the men: Like many people usually state they might behave more distanced and more politely towards women compared to other Africans. But I would say you notice if somebody feels attracted to you. What I like about them: They know how to have a proper conversation with women unlike most people around Germany/Austria where I live.

    I found this article recently http://thisisafrica.me/stick-dating-within-culture/ here’s the same on Mell Nyoko’s blog http://mellnyoko.blogspot.de/2014/02/stick-to-dating-your-own-culture_6.html?m=1
    and some days after it occurred to me that remarks about me not being able to speak Kinyarwanda (I’ve tried to learn it by myself for a while because there aren’t any courses here but I hope I will be fluent one day) – which was obvious so not really far fetched to mention or ask about it – were meant in a more worried way than I thought. You see they usually think very marriage oriented, even those who you wouldn’t suspect to do so. The fact that weddings follow quite fast proves it very well.

    Avoiding cultural misunderstandings is a factor and probably especially those who live in the diaspora want a partner who can make them feel at home even if they live in a foreign country.

    Did some of you have similar experiences?

    Also what’s the name of the book you read? It sounds similar to books I found 2-3 years ago which have been very helpful.

    Greetings

  10. How do you find out if your uganadan guy has another gf? Or wife? ESP if he never mentions his family’s or visits them? Any tips ?

  11. Hi,
    I’m a Kenyan male and quite frankly the bashing of the Kenyan man (primarily by Kenyan women, ironically) is getting kind of old. I’m always surprised I mean we have grown in the same cultural contexts, gone to the same schools, dated etc then in essence aren’t we from the same mold? Surely it must occur to you that if there is something utterly wrong with Kenyan men then by some measure there must be something wrong as well with the Kenyan women.

    We are cut from the same cloth, I don’t see how one half of it could be oh so pristine and immaculate and the other half utter crap.

    Most of the times we have these unrealistic expectations that are derived from the fantasy fueled notions in movies and romance novels. Kenyan women want Kenyan men to walk them on clouds, though neither the men nor the women have wings i.e. don’t have the means to sustain the fantasy.

    The best under the circumstance most men can do is to put you on a cranky rocket, which soon enough tumbles right back down. After the novelty of the new romance, over pledging and the usual romp is over everyone is left with a bitter taste in their mouths.

    Then there is this issue of aggression, discourtesy, plain talking, braggadocio etc about Kenyan men. Has any of these Kenyan women had time to frankly ask their contemporaries in other countries how loud, aggressive and utterly fake they too seem? Do we judge them?

    Finally, you only get it as good as you want it WITH THE RIGHT PERSON. Don’t ask for a white horse, a 4 bedroomed house with a jacuzzi from a Nairobi guy who though he loves you and would probably die for you, has to walk to work most of the month because he has to atleast meet once a month your importunate demands for outings.

    A white horse, jeez, what will it eat and the jacuzzi in a city that is blighted with water shortage . . . just because you saw it in a fucking movie. Arrggghhh….

    We love you Kenyan women, but please get real and try to empathize with the hapless cornered Kenyan men who try to do what they can to please you (yes we do, before we throw you under the bus out of frustration stemming from your interminable demands for fairy tales).

    1. Hi Kenyan Guy,

      Welcome to Chick About Town! Thanks for leaving a comment. It’s interesting to see this issue from the point of view of the other side of the equation than I usually hear it. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      B.

    2. love your comment, and I do feel the frustration in your comment though, and as Biche said, time Kenyan women, and us all (women in east Africa) wonder what makes our men be what they are? since we are raised in same households, and come from the same cloth, what is the problem. ? what is the issue? let me talk about it more in my comment to Biche’s post.

      1. Hi Ms. PLwakab,

        Nice to see you commenting here. I am looking forward to reading the rest of what you have to say. Ninasubiria na hamu. 🙂

        ION, I will Whatsapp you soon. I think I owe you a date!

        B.

  12. I’m a Caucasian American lady and I’ve been texting with a Kenyan guy for almost a month now (he lives far away). We met online, and I was just looking up some cultural info on what normal dating is like for Kenyan men (esp. since I’ve never dated an African guy before). The things I’ve been reading that Kenyans are aggressive are NOT the experience I’ve had so far! I was starting to get worried about it when I found your well-thought out post, and I feel better now. This guy has been nothing but kind and respectful, and I hope that I’ve found a good one! I try to take each person as they come and I am having a very good experience with this one!

    1. Hi Laura,

      Welcome to Chick About Town, and thank you for your comment. I am glad to know you found my post well thought out.

      I am so happy to hear that you are having a great time with your Kenyan guy. I’ve met a few great Kenyan guys in my lifetime! I wish for you that your guy is one of them. As for the rest of what I’d like to share with you, I think I will send you an email. 😉

      Biche

  13. This is a hard. If I was to base it on my opinion, I would say no matter where you go, it’s always a balance. It all goes down to what one is looking for. Security, Care, Love, Financial Stability, adventure ……

    Not so many men can offer the whole package.

    Kenyan men tends to be good at a few of the traits, but the ladies want all. Result?

    Tanzanian and Ugandan Men cannot offer it all too, but the women in this country choose what they want and settle on a man who can offer just that. Everything else will come as a bonus. Results?

    In Kenya, women have been empowered, they are strong. This has left men trying to do best they can to meet all the expectations. But it’s never enough. The bar has been set too high.

    I can also say that probably, it is a case of meeting the wrong person disguised as the right one.

    1. Hi Kenyan Backpacker,

      Welcome to Chick About Town! I know we like each other’s pages on Facebook, but I believe this is your first comment here. Karibu sana!

      So are you saying that Tanzanian and Ugandan women are more willing to settle?

      “Not so many men can offer the whole package.”…you know, if we women are honest, more often than not, neither can we. Just as we expect a man to focus on the good we have to offer and overlook that which we don’t, maybe we also need to learn to be as forgiving.

      Thanks for contributing to the conversation. 🙂

      Biche

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