BEFORE he turned 30, Nelson Mandela had married his first wife Evelyn, had two children, became the first national Secretary of the ANC youth league and was a force to be reckoned with in anti-colonial politics.
Celebrated revolutionary Fidel Castro who many regard as one of the few who boldly showed the American government the middle finger and got away with it turned 30 in 1956. By then, he already had a wife, had opened a law firm, led a revolution and unsuccessfully ran for congress among other reasons we will always remember him for.
At 30, Steve Jobs, the man who changed how we view gadgets, had made the world’s renowned brand Apple, featured on the front page of time magazine and became a global celebrity.
But this is not about men whose pictures we use as screen savers or wallpapers on our phones or tablets; it is about where they were at the age 30.
In Kigali we have 30-year-old men who are big babies in trousers. What are you doing in your mother’s home at 30? Your mother drags you out of bed to have breakfast, asks you what you will have for lunch-and even reminds you to lay your bed.
You are still mama’s boy, waking up in your parents’ house and showing no signs of leaving.
Many loath men living under their parent’s roof at 30. They see them as spoilt individuals who lack independence and need to get their act together.
Yusuf Nsenga, a 58-year-old resident of Nyamirambo answers to the name ‘papa’ when his four children call, three boys and one girl. All are below 30; the eldest is 26 and moved out of his fathers’ house four years ago when he joined campus. Not out of his old man’s pressure but because it was time.
Nsenga himself says that when he was 20 he had a house on his own and even paid his own rent. He wonders why some men insist on living with their parents till they are married.
“Living on your own as a man, whether married or not, teaches you to be more responsible. It teaches you lessons that you would not learn from home. You learn financial discipline, self regulation and taking care of yourself,” Nsenga says.
Nsenga argues that a 30-year-old who still lives with their parents is certainly like someone who has over stayed their visit, yet you can’t tell them that its time up.
You know that feeling when a relative comes to visit you for a weekend and the visit turns into weeks and before you know its months. Now that’s the feeling your parents get when after they have seen you take your first baby steps, go to school and graduate and then at 30 they still see you around.
“Your parents will always be your parents; they will rarely be in a rush to see you leave. You do not move out to prove manhood or independence; rather you leave to learn what it takes to be a man or what it takes to be independent,” Nsenga adds.
Moving out at a younger age is considered convenient for young folks who want to get on with their life.
Solange Umwali, a third year student at a university in Kigali would have trouble dating a guy who at 30 still lives with his parents. The reason would partly be his independence and partly because it would be hard to see him at ‘their’ own time.
“A grown man who still lives with his parents…...that would be an alarm bell..Why would I date such a guy. You have met a big baby in trousers, girls if such a guy wants to date you, run as fast as you can,” Umwali says.
Umwali sees moving out for a grown man as an unwritten rule that doesn’t even have to be pushed on anybody.
“No one should get you to move it, it is like a phase in one’s life. It should happen without your parents having to remind you that you have been around for too long or that it is time you moved out.”
Edwin Mutangana who got married in December last year has a friend who is about 29 years and still lives with his parents.
But he is always the subject of jokes when the boys are out for drinks.
“Mama’s boy, isn’t your curfew due?” “What’s mum making us for dinner today?” “Does your mum vet all your girlfriends?” Such are questions Mutangana’s friend has to grapple with whenever he is out with friends.
Other than staying at home with your parents, these are some of the jokes that you have to endure when you are thirty and still wake up to your mum’s breakfast.
But some people have genuine reasons for taking this dreaded decision.
A friend who lives with his parents is still a bachelor and claims the reason for his staying with the parents is because he runs the family business. He claims it is easier to manage things when he is close to the owners of the business.
Of course it is just an excuse. He seems comfortable and not in a rush to move out of home. But at times, speaking to him, you find that there are things we talk about that he won’t understand until he joins the world of real men where we hustle to earn, pay bills and generally live our age.
But should we entirely blame them. May be some probably do it because their parents request them to stay around. They are coerced by their parents to stay around and accumulate savings. Isn’t that a good reason to stay home longer?
Though her two sons who are old enough to move out have since done so and the one still home is looking to do so soon, Joselyn Kagoyire doesn’t see anything wrong with a man sharing a house with his parents even at the age of 40.
“There is no need to put pressure on them. There is so much social pressure around, where a boy who is living with his parents is immediately branded a mama’s boy and an under achiever. The boy doesn’t get credit for all other things he has been able to achieve,” Kagoyire says.
She sees the itching urge to move out at a young age as a result of the stories guys share when they have a beer together and it causes those living at home to feel as if they are not living a full life.
“What do you think will run in the mind of a 27-year-old when they listen to tales about how their friends are having a ‘full life’ and having girls over during weekends?
The first question a 30-year-old man will be asked when he says he resides with his parents is where he goes to have sex with his girl friend. Beyond that there are no other justifications that critics will give you. You can still learn responsibility and financial discipline from home,” Kagoyire adds.
Social pressure or not living under you parents roof at 30 will leave a man the basis of jokes and ridicule, but beyond that, the real reason for staying with your parents will not be understood by everyone. For some, this can be a serious deal breaker with the ladies – after all – no woman wants to date a guy still having his mum bring him a tray of food!
Grown men that won’t leave the nest? What do you think?
I think it is fine because it’s all about finances. If a guy has a job that pays him Rwf150, 000 how do you expect him to pay rent, water, electricity, buy food, transport, and airtime, buy clothes and save? Even Albert Einstein can’t work out this calculation. Girls think it’s simply about waking up one morning and packing all your stuff. No! It is not. Not all of us like putting up with other people; I might have friends but not the idea of sharing the house with them. It’s better to wait until you are prepared to handle on your own.
Mugabo Ambrose, Courier
I’m currently unemployed but I don’t stay at home. I try my best to look for temporary work like helping university students with their thesis, internship reports, and sometimes I get part time jobs with NGO’s for their research and other things. It’s a determination that an individual has to make in order to mature and be responsible. For example, I know how much food stuffs cost at the markets, I can prepare my own meal and I can do my laundry. These are skills that will be difficult for an individual to acquire when they are still staying home.
Emmanuel Kagabo, Unemployed
It is not a good thing but I think it depends on how men perceive things. Don’t get me wrong but men are sometimes irresponsible and will only think of being responsible when there’s a girl in the picture but they forget that being responsible starts early in life. A man will think about who will wash, cook and clean his. These are things that they don’t want to do and instead of going to rent, they decided to stick at their parent’s home where they get everything done and just waste their money. It’s funny but that’s how most of them think.
Carine Umwali, Administrator
A guy who stays with his parents at 30 usually has an emotional problem. Usually such guys missed out on parental attention that they seem to crave it so much to the extent that they are too blinded to figure out that it’s time to leave mummy’s house. Besides, such guys usually don’t even have a girlfriend because no girl wants a baby. A man who can’t stand on his own is a disaster in waiting. That’s a no go zone for any girl.
Maliza Nshuti, Student