The Kenyan woman and dowry
26 February 2015, 14:22
Nairobi - You know, with the rise of divorce rates and more people
that I see in the limelight being estranged form their spouses, I have to ask
myself a lot of questions. One of them is on dowry.
A long time ago it was mandatory for one to be paid for a
bride price and also, before people got married, someone had to ask someone for
permission before any nuptials took place. Our generation on the other hand
likes to call itself the kizazi kipya
meaning that we want to or rather like to play by our own kind of rules. No
one asks anyone for permission, we want to marry so and so from the tribe that
the parents are do not like. We do not ask for permission to move in together
but just surprise everyone and we decide
whether we want to be paid for a bride price or not. Which I am sure grates
some parents in a wrong way.
Some new generation parent looks at it like someone paying
for his daughter while another sees it as the groom paying his contribution to
what is due for the parents having brought up the girl. Good education from the
right type of schools, growing in the right suburbia and what not. I once heard a story where the groom could
not afford to pay for his girlfriend’s bride price so the parents did not want
to give her away to him. So the girl offered to pay for her own bride price; I
do not think that that went down well with them either because they probably
viewed it as still coming from their pocket.
I do not see a lot of cowsheds in Nairobi, Most people have
never even stepped foot in their own rural homes, some have one home they know
of because the grandparents either settled in Nairobi or they passed and now
there is just the parents. So when the cows and goats are brought in where are
they going to go? If it is not going to be cows and money instead, is that not
like sort of buying and whet is the price tag that is allocated to you as the
I try to sit down and decide what my father will ask for;
money or cows. I know I cannot step into this manly business and tell my father
and uncles what to do; that will incur censure from them. Though God forbid
they decide they only want maybe half a million shillings only, making me worth
only that amount. You walk around in Nairobi and see a lot of women talk about
how priceless they are, how high maintenance they are, they can only go to
certain places only but wait until the father asks for the dowry. How much do
you think your male folks have placed as a price tag on your head? Even worse,
I have this male cousin he started counting heads of cattle ever since we all
hit puberty. We are a large female household, no brothers in sight. So this guy
would boast about how he was going to get a lot of head of cattle from all of
us. SMH! Worse still it was what was going to pay for his bride.
I would be d***ed if I ever allowed such as scenario to take
place. It will be like I am the pail that fetches the milk that someone else
eventually drinks from. SMH.
What if she settles with a foreigner, we all know he did not
jet in with any cows? So, do the parents just swallow the bitter pill and give
her away without anything, or what happens.To the married folks too, does the bride’s
family return the cattle when either a) they divorce b) they separate or c) she
is ‘barren’? As archaic as the barren thing sounds it
still happens, at times, the whole blame is put on the woman when she is not at
fault. Other times, they are well founded when another wife comes along with a
junior in tow. So in such a case what happens to the bride price? All this
questions; I need to sit down and talk to my old folks find out what they are
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