Tarurî Gatere was bold enough to go on television, and talk about why she doesn’t want children. And then, the internet erupted.
Viewers were angry. Families were furious. People could not believe that a lady who seemed to have so much going for her, would come out to proclaim such bold statements on national television. (Some people could.)
It was the talk of the nation for the following one week. Tarurî was receiving all kinds of messages on her phone, emails, and social media inboxes. It was a country gone wild.
However, while on the surface it seemed like everyone was bashing Tarurî and against her, that wasn’t really the case.
There was a number, (quite a large number actually,) of people who were in support of Tarurî’s choices. Some were even envious of her. This young woman, who was bold enough to live her truth and proclaim it; a champion in their eyes.
Tarurî is wearing bold red lipstick, and chic smart-casual attire, on the heavily cloudy afternoon we meet. She’s telling me about the whole TV saga. And she’s laughing at it all.
“Yvonne. It’s my uterus. How can people get so angry yet it’s my uterus? Does that make any sense to you?”
That feels like a trick question, I can’t answer it, I don’t answer it. I just smile. But I’m intrigued, I’m very intrigued about Tarurî.
Tarurî, from the start, has lived quite an interesting life. She was home-schooled in her later high school years, then went on to study fashion in Italy, before she realised it wasn’t for her and she sought to do something else. That something was coaching. Tarurî now practises as a life coach and therapist.
Oh, and she is vegan too.
We are at Sankara Hotel’s Artisan restaurant. Sitting at a table by the balcony, biting into a vegetable samosa, nothing is off limits for Tarurî . Nothing. She’s willing to talk about it all.
Where do we start? Children. Tarurî does not want to have any. She likes children, she adores being around other people’s children, but she doesn’t want to birth her own.
Tarurî also, really, does not understand why people continue to make such a big deal out of this personal choice.
First and foremost, she says, it’s her body and her life. Secondly, Tarurî tells me, there are countless women both in Kenya and around the world, who don’t want children and are living their best lives. The only difference is that they’ve chosen to live their lives quietly, whereas she, obviously, doesn’t mind going public about it.
This then begs the question, did she really have to do it on TV? Was there another reason behind her decision to do so?
Yes. After sipping her Mai Tai cocktail, Tarurî says that she wanted to offer encouragement to all the other individuals (women and men) who feel the same way, but can’t say anything, not even to their families, for fear of judgement. She wanted them to know that they are not alone, and that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them.
When it comes to dating, Tarurî, 33, has had her fair share of heartaches. However, she’s now past that, and is currently exploring polyamory, a relationship set-up where a group of people, date and be with one another openly.
Below, Tarurî and I talk some more about polyamory, child-free choices, abortions, critics, authenticity, and self-love.
Here’s more on Tarurî:
Tarurî, you spoke candidly about your preference not to have children, and then things exploded, have people calmed down now?
(Bursts out laughing) Oh, man. (Shakes head) That was insane.
But, yes, people have calmed down now, they have. (Laughs)
Were you ready for all the reactions people had after your public revelation?
I mean, I knew that people would have opinions, but not at the magnitude that it was, not to that extent.
I’d done a few interviews before, so I thought I was ready for whatever came after the Citizen TV interview. But, oh my goodness, I couldn’t have been more wrong. (Laughs)
Was this a whole new level?
It was. It really was.
Do you regret going on TV to talk about your choices?
No. Absolutely not. Not at all.
Was this always your stance, that you don’t want to have children? Or did something influence the decision?
I think it has always been my preference, but it really, actively, came to me about five years ago. That was when I started questioning things.
Religion. Food. And yes, motherhood. I would be around my friends, and whenever they’d see a baby, they’d have almost like a complete visceral reaction to the child.
And I kept waiting for that, for these “motherly instincts,” for, “baby fever,” for a ticking of the biological clock, but, nothing. (Laughs)
You can’t hear any ticking clocks?
None. (Laughs.) Well, at least not any biological ones. (Laughs again)
I’d like to repeat some of the comments people made, after you talked about choosing to be child-free, then I’d like you to give your honest responses to them…
Sure, let’s do it… (Smiles)
– “How can you not want children? What’s wrong with you?”
(Shakes head) I just don’t. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with me.
– “Ah, you’ll change your mind. It’s just a matter of time.”
Yes, maybe I will. That’s okay too. Human beings are capable of changing their minds, did you know that? That’s a skill we have, I have it too. (Smiles) But I don’t think I will.
– “You’re very selfish for not wanting children.”
(Nods) I am. I’m selfish. I have friends who are parents, and it’s a beautiful thing to be a parent, but I also see what a toll it takes on them. I see how they have to almost completely live their lives for their children.
Such a task should only be taken by someone who is completely willing to live that life, and endure everything that comes with it. I know it wouldn’t work for me, so I choose not to get into it.
– “Do you know how many people would do anything to just have one child?”
They are many. Fertility struggles are on the rise, and I empathise with everyone going through this, but my choices don’t change their reality.
Even if I went on to give birth to seven children, I don’t think that would take their struggle and pain away. It just is what it is.
– “What if you really fall in love one day? Won’t you have children for your partner?”
(Smiles) No. And I don’t think that would be the right partner for me.
Also, I’m very straightforward and upfront about this. As soon as I start interacting with someone and we’re trying to see if there could be something between us, I make my decision known from the get-go. There’s usually no confusion.
– “Who will take care of you when you grow older?”
Giving birth to children, to whole human beings, with the expectation that they should care for you in old age… (Shakes head). I think that’s even more selfish than I am, it’s cruel too.
– “But procreating is a Biblical instruction!”
(Smiles) I think that the same God who gave those instructions, is the same God who created me.
And I think that God understands who I am, more than I even understand myself. If he made me, He definitely accepts me too. God and I are okay. We are fine. (Smiles again.)
Thank you for answering those Tarurî.
Sure. (Shakes head) It’s just mind-blowing to me, how so many people are averse to those who are of different opinions, and lifestyles compared to them.
And this is why I talk about it. I want to give people a chance to hear diverse points of view, and I want to encourage people to live as authentically as they can.
I want people to realise that we can all co-exist in the same world, but my life doesn’t have to be exactly as yours is, and that’s okay. We can all still be happy.
What’s the most hurtful thing someone said to you, when you spoke about not wanting children?
(Long Pause) I remember this guy made the effort to look for my social media pages and he just went on an attack. He called me a degenerate, he said I wasn’t thinking, and that I should think. He was like, “Just think!”
And then he said, “How dare you not use your body for what God intended it for?” And he just went on and on.
I know. And even though that was hurtful, it was more shocking to me, that someone would go through all that trouble, to find me, a complete stranger to him, just to insult me. It was shocking.
There was also a lady who was so angry and accused me of having had so many abortions, that now I can’t have children. That struck a nerve for me.
It struck a nerve because you’ve had an abortion before?
Yes, I had one when I was 18, and it was the right choice for me. I knew I couldn’t go through with it.
What was the most encouraging thing someone said to you after you spoke about this?
The encouraging messages were way too many. I can’t tell you how many people reached out to me, messaging me, and telling me how much I encouraged them.
I even had people reaching out to me for solace, some were telling me how they’ve been dating for a while, but their partners don’t know that they don’t want children.
It is. There were even people who are parents now, telling me that they don’t know what to do with their lives, and that if they had the chance, they wouldn’t have had even one child.
There’s a lot of pain around us, it’s just that society forces so many of us to fake it and put on a facade.
You’ve mentioned before, that your family accepts you as you are; do you think a part of them is a bit disappointed by your choice not to have children?
(Laughs, then looks into the distance) Yes, I think they definitely are disappointed in a way. My father is quite progressive and open-minded, so he’s quite okay with me being myself.
My mother on the other hand, even though she has been understanding, it’s definitely taken her a while to accept it all.
I was reading an article the other day, it was talking about how many broken people go on to raise children who are just as broken; do you think as a society, we pay enough attention to such things?
(Nods) I agree with that statement. Completely. And no, a majority of us definitely don’t pay attention to such things. We don’t pay attention to our mental health, to our beliefs, to our mindsets.
We just have children because it’s expected, whether we are fit enough to have them is never a consideration. (Shakes head) That’s unfortunate.
Someone once told me, that there are too many people who end up as parents, and they do well in that role, but they don’t enjoy it. That if they had another life, and had to do it again, many of them wouldn’t sign up for parenthood; what are your thoughts on that?
I see it all the time. Especially with my clients, when they come to me for therapy and coaching. Yvonne, I see it all the time.
These individuals, who love their children yes, but who now hate their lives. Every day for them is a dread, their life is a drag, and the decision obviously can’t be reversed. I think it’s the saddest thing, to be a parent, and to not want to be.
Relationship-wise, for those who stay in toxic relationships too long, as a life coach and therapist, what would your advice be to them?
(Pauses) Love yourself. Have boundaries. And when it gets too much, start detaching from the relationship.
I’m saying this as someone who has been there. I’ve been through it. I know what it feels like. My last relationship was toxic, and I stayed for five good years, I even moved to Nakuru for him, can you believe it? (Shakes head)
In what way was the relationship toxic?
There were a lot of things going on. I think my ex also had some narcissistic tendencies, and things he was just struggling with, with himself. I don’t even want to go there, because I don’t think that’s for me to deal with.
But as usual, with these things, there’s always some cheating involved. He kept accusing me of cheating, and he would do it so randomly. Like, I would be at a function, and the next thing I would get is a text full of accusations. After moving to Nakuru is when I found out he’d actually been the one cheating the whole time.
Are you done with that relationship?
I am. Thank goodness. I even moved back to Nairobi. I have my senses back. (Laughs heartily)
Tarurî, would you want to get married?
(Smiles) I don’t know, I don’t think so. I’m currently exploring polyamory. And, can I just be honest? I like it, I love it, I enjoy everything about it. (Laughs)
Polyamory, tell me more?
Polyamory literally translates into, “Many loves.” So it’s a set-up where you have many love partners, you can have as many partners as you want, and they all know about each other. It’s a set-up built on honesty.
So how it works is that there are different levels. Some people would have one primary partner, and still be with other people; or it could just be one person, with a number of partners.
Wow. I didn’t know we’ve progressed that much. Is this all happening in Nairobi?
Oh, Yvonne. (Breaks into loud laughter) It’s happening. It’s definitely happening. There’s a polyamory community, and it’s growing.
I’m curious. How do you even find each other? Where do you find other, like-minded, polyamorous people?
(Laughs) Let just say the internet has been a great space for me. A great one. And, (shakes head), there are all kinds of things that go on this city. There are all kind of groups, all kinds. (Laughs again.)
Do you have any major plans for 2019?
Yes! Ah, I’m excited for 2019. I’m in the process of writing a book, and I have a number of projects in the works. I can’t wait to reveal what they all are.
Any last words?
Well, first, for the haters, I mean, if you’re hating now, you’re going to have so much more to hate in the future. (Laughs)
For everyone else, focus on yourself, focus on loving you. Mind your own business, and do your best to become the best version of yourself.
For those struggling with life, trying to understand who they are, just keep going, and keep trying, all the answers you seek are within you. Love yourself.