Your stingy man


Mankhokwe Namusanya:

Real stingy men do not advertise themselves. They do not need organisations to cement their existence. They are stealth. Silent. And quirky, sometimes. Their view of stinginess, and other moralities, is warped. It exists from their perspective only.

When you, fed up and shaken and running over with frustration, call them out on their stinginess, they fight back. In a Trumpian fashion, arms outstretched, they proclaim ‘their civility’. Say this and that – countless detours yet not answer the accusation directly – and conclude that “your judgment is so unfair, so unfair, madam.”


These who come chanting stinginess, and give themselves positions in a non-existent organisation, are either jokers or – worse still – broke. You know that thing they said about broke men forming their own association and not joining one meant for ‘stingies’?

He is in the former, because he says that association is balderdash. Stuff for people with no money to invest into Ponzi pyramid schemes whose thievery can be smelled ten days away yet they still rob people.

His wife, however, when she saw that stingy men thing must have gone “ahaaa! Here it is. The idiot will be the President.” Because, he sounds stingy. He pays for the very basic at home. On that Maslow hierarchy of needs, he provides the physiological and the safety of needs. The rest? God takes care of birds, orphans and stupid people, he will take care of the family too or, where man stops then God takes over – a vain motto like that.


He did not just start. He was groomed into it.

Now, two things about the behaviours of your husband. One, it is either he was born into it in which case changing him requires a smorgasbord of patience, perseverance and parenting; or, and the second one, it is because of his friends – those people who call you ‘mula’ and then curve in another ‘mula’ for him when out drinking. Okay, that is an exaggeration, but it is mostly those two.

For him, however, he says it is none of those two. Because, believe it or not, among his friends your husband is most likely the influencer so nobody can teach him anything about manliness, about being stingy. He is the one who teaches them.

“But man, I just realised that nobody was appreciating what I was doing. Nobody!”

I laugh, wondering what he expected: maybe that at the end of every month, or a week, there would be an award presenting ceremony in the neighbourhood for the best husband and his wife would keep nominating him and vote – even rig the vote – for him. Because, well, for one to say this is a good husband it would entail that they have another somewhere hidden who is terrible even at opening a Facebook account.

But I do not interrupt with my thoughts.

“I would go the extra steps, provide the extras but there was nothing there.”

“Nothing as…?”

It is a complex ridiculous question, he thinks about his sweeping statement and unkind judgement but, like a politician, he changes the subject to be about his argument: he was never appreciated.

“What would appreciation look like?”

I am the devil’s advocate.

“It is a feeling,” he declares. “When you are appreciated, your soul can feel it. You are not criticised for anything that goes wrong in the world –”

I want to remark: “well, that’s heavy that you were criticised for Covid” but I realise this might be the only safe space he has ever had because, believe it or not, men have fewer spaces where they can talk. Oftentimes, they drink, smoke, kick or just suicide their way out of situations. So, when you meet them, let them rant or just – well this will sound creepy and do not do it except when it is your husband and is not significantly shorter than you – hug them, that huge teddy bear hug. For no reason.

He tells of a story that made him realise that going the extra mile was just a trip for naught. Of an interview.

The first thing she did was criticising his dressing. Granted, he has an awful sense of fashion – like most of us, really. But she went on it: the suit.

It was said in jest, yet he says in that interview panel, the idea that he was wrongly dressed and therefore looking funny kept nagging him in the background. You might say: “stupid man, why did he not change the clothes when he was criticised in jest?” You will be forgiven for being unkind because you did not think that one takes jokes seriously until you start to think of them at that deeper psychoanalytic level. When it eventually dawned on him that the joke had eaten at his confidence, it was after the interview was going South.

Then, back at home, when asked about the interview and he reported that it had gone well, she assumed a new conflicting role: supporting him and prophesying things.

“It will be well,” she said. “You will be successful. I know my man. I know your capabilities.”

He wanted to rant there but, again, ranting is unmanly. Also, why look for a fight where there is none? He shut up. She asked for some little top up money for the hairdresser.

“That was when I realised that I mean nothing, man. I decided to just be doing the basics. The rest? God.”

God, here, is her. The wife.

The interview? No, miracles in real life are not that easy to come by. If you are ever promised of one, think of it as an investing gifting scam: run! He was not successful. He did not tell her of the outcome until days after he learnt of it. Because she had asked.

These days, his sources of income have thinned. She does not know. She might never know.

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