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Are you dating your cousin?

06 September 2014, 17:01 Shakila Alivitsa

Nairobi - Everyone has that funny aunt whom during family gatherings is always making everyone laugh.  I have such an aunt, and in every family gathering she makes us all hurdle up, then tells us to look at each other, at first it used to be hilarious because we would always wonder at the point she was trying to make. So she would eventually just crack up and tell us she was trying to prevent a disaster from happening.

In this case the disaster would be cousin dating cousin because they were unaware they were related. Lucky for us, we are such a small family unit. I do not think I have more than twenty direct cousins and if there are any extended they are definitely less than fifty, So our grandparents form of procreation was very effective in preventing this matter. Aside from that, the idea of any relation between me and any other person is just enough to burn out any flames that may have been kindled. It is an eek factor for me.

Other families are not so lucky, you may have as many as over a hundred extended family members, each week you are hosting a certain member or welcoming a new one. In such a case, then things are bound to happen as is prevalent in our society, happening even now as we speak.

Read also: 'The Kenyan woman always stays in an abusive relationship'

In most cases, people never find out about it or it is done behind the veil since we all recognize it as a taboo. While in other cases, one party is usually being taken advantage of by an older more experienced relation when they come to visit with the family, in such a case parents must educate their kids on the extent of intimate interactions; ignorance may lead to abuse. When people barely interact with each other it rarely happens, the ones we have to watch out for with a baleful eye are the ones who are constantly in each other’s presence. I am not saying it is not good to be close and friendly with your relations, but there just has to be a limit. Consensual incest manifests itself mostly in circumstances where familiarity is built. 

Traditional society frowned upon it and they had very stringent methods to deal with those who would even dare to, so no one even thought to do so, thus we cannot cast aspersions and say it came from them. So what went wrong? Moral decay in our modern society is what went haywire at some point in time because no one will dump you in a crocodile infested river for bringing in evil spirits through your evil deed. We should bring such punishments back and see how fast people get back on the right track.


At least in this case, the law has made a provision in which it criminalizes incestuous relationships whether there is consent or none through the Kenyan Sexual Offences Act.  The law states that: “Any person who commits an indecent act or an act that cause penetration with a female person who is to his knowledge his daughter, granddaughter, sister, mother, niece, aunt or grandmother is guilty of an offence called incest.”

Read also: Women: Are you the side chick or the main dish?

But truth of the matter is that most cases go unreported even when the parties’ parents are aware as they would like to solve the problem within the family. To be fair though, who would want such dirty linen advertised for all to see and hear about it?

Take this case, Rose 23* and her second cousin Martin 23* were introduced a while back.  None knew that they might be related, as they met through a mutual friend. Fast track the relationship, and they were soon dating. So one day, Martin takes her for a visit at the family home introductions are mad, family history discussed, nothing is amiss for the young love birds. But, it seems the parents decided to hold something back until further investigation had been made. A week later they are both called and Rose unbeknownst to her finds her parents there. This two are related, they are in love and obviously they have gone past the casual pecking. We cannot blame them here, because in their case, it is the parents who were neglectful in their duties due to not keeping in touch. The parents think that they have at least prevented further damage, but these two decide it is not their fault, and “love” knows no boundaries. The case is still ongoing but obviously they are not taking it to the police but trying to solve it as a family. Last I heard, they are trying to get married. The worst thing you can tell someone is ‘NO’ to a forbidden fruit, makes it more enticing. I am sure their ‘love’ would have faded but all the furor is making it more palatable.

Such a case just goes to prove that, not that many cases make it outside the family, but Kenya has been making headlines over the past few months with its fast rising cases on incest especially within the nuclear family unit.

I once dated a guy whom every time I would go and visit would tell me he had a cousin who I was related to. I am not sure if she was trying to say we were related or she was just trying to raise my hackles.

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