In June last year, a former Mwaghogho teacher walked out on his young family and vanished. A week later, he was found hanging from a tree somewhere in Maungu bushes.
Early this year, Prof. Abel Mugenda (remember Research Methodology) jumped to his death from a sixth floor of a hotel in Nyeri.
The other day in Kakamega, an AP cop goes berserk and puts several rounds of ammo in his wife, a high-school teacher, in the head. (95 of male population in social media termed this AP as a hero! Madness).
Cases of men going nuts and either killing self or their family members are so common that we are no longer shocked when they happen. Experts are saying depression has played a big role in all these mess.
A friend who survived described it in terrifyingly apt yet contradicting words.
“It’s worse than death and suicide free us.”
Take it or leave it. Depression is more powerful than love; more powerful than hope; more powerful than fear. It’s a black hole. What else can make a young father with young children go kill self? What else can make a man slit the throat of a 2-year old daughter he sired?
When depression gets you, you stop living. You become an empty emotionless shell. You go to work, laugh with friends, play with your kids but you are dead. Inside. You live in this dark bottomless hole, alone. Nothing excites you; nothing frightens you-you are a dead man walking.
Families, thinking you are bewitched, recommend pastor for spiritual support but prayers must be supported by medical help for a psychiatric condition that might require a near-lifelong management.
But question is why men?
It all boils down to our society. The society has placed a lot of pressure on men to be ‘men’. A man can never openly express pain, fear, anguish, worry, pain etc. He must suppress all feelings regarded as ‘za wanawake’.
Remember the father in the swimming pool teaching his terrified son how to swim and how he was pissed Junior was afraid of deep water? That is how you nurture a cold-blooded killer.
What has society decreed? It has said that a man suffocating under the tragic loss of his child cannot scream in anguish. Hiyo ni umama! Lazima mzee akae ngumu. While facing the knife, a boy must not cry as his phallus is being chopped off!
In Ngugi’s The River Between, boys were not even supposed to flinch when a knife slashes part of the pecker. When a teacher is whipping ya b**t, a boy cannot flinch. He stays upright and take his punishment as a soldier.
Like Shylock, I ask-‘Hath not a man senses, passions, affections fed with the same food, hurt by same tragedies,scared by the same fears, saddened by events as woman is?’ It’s precisely those feelings that make us human; the feelings a man is forbidden from experiencing.
But there is more. In this age of internet porn, a man cannot make love for two-minutes to his woman and later sleep peacefully. Oh No! To be a man, he must sweat and drool for at least four hours to make sure his CV is not ‘spoilt.’ So what happens? Poor sods gorge themselves with Viagra and chew sacks of Mukomberos to prove their manness.
But a woman? She sees a cockroach, she scream her head off. She loses a kin? She can cry and grieve all she wants. She is hurt? She will go cry her heart out. The society understands. A woman can feel; can be human. This is the sad reality of modern world.
So do men feel pain? Hell yeah! Do they feel sadness? Of course! Fear? They do! Do they often feel like crying? Of course yes! Do they feel worry? They do. Do they sometimes wish to be just held and be told ‘It will okay?’? Yes. Do they sometimes want to sleep soundly without making love? Yes, they do.
But do they show it? No. If you try, you are told ‘una umama’. Where is the hope?
Bottom line is this. All these suppressed feelings swell and grow. The pain, the fear. They drown a man from within. It might be your brother, son, husband or father. The elastic limit comes. He snaps. He either kills self or kills you.
Love alone will not protect men from depression. Allowing them to feel will.