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Burden of getting married for young men in Kenya

04 March 2016, 14:52

Nairobi (Xinhua) -- Sometime in September this year, Kenyan communication officer Joseph Mulemi expects to walk down the aisle with his fiancé Jane.

The ceremony, if all goes on well, would take place in the capital Nairobi about a year since he started the process.

Also read: Young men more likely to engage in high-risk sex.

"I am looking forward to Sept. 24. It will be my big day ever; a culmination of my efforts and that of my fiancé who hasstood by me," he has told Xinhua.

Plans to hold the wedding started in earnest with Mulemi visiting Jane's parent's home in Kakamega, western Kenya in August last year.

"I went there with four of my friends to introduce myself to my parent's in-law and declare my intention to marry their daughter," recounted Mulemi, adding that during the event, he spent 396 U.S. dollars, money that went to buying a suit and a dress to his prospective parent's in-law, consumables and some pocket money.

Mulemi hails from the Isukha community, same as his fiance, and in their culture, that is how the process starts.

"The visit is a precursor to the dowry negotiation ceremony that I went for in December last year. This was too demanding because I involved my parents, church members from Nairobi and brothers. We were a delegation of about 20 people," he said.

Mulemi was asked to pay a bride price of 2,970 dollars, partly because he had sired a child with Jane, and three cows.

"The bride price would have been lower had we not had a child," he explained, noting that luckily for him, he is not supposed to have cleared the bride price before he weds, but he has already delivered one of the cows and 990 dollars.

His wedding budget is 6,435 dollars, money he is struggling to raise through friends since the couple only have about a quarter of the amount.

"Hopefully by the time September reaches we would have collected all the money with the help of friends, but I must admit I am financially drained. I am burdened but that is life. In the end I believe all will come to pass," said Mulemi, who took a loan from Sacco to finance the dowry payment.

The 31-year-old is among tens of thousands young men in the East African nation who have to struggle to get married as they adhere to their cultures and modernity.

Social worker Lydia Mugeni acknowledged that getting married for many young Kenyans has become burdensome unlike in the past when most young women and their parents did not insist on white weddings.

"Sometimes I pity our young men because some of them go at great lengths to do weddings, only to begin life on bad footing with no money. That marriage may not survive because the woman starts to see the man as improvident despite the lavish wedding."

However, she noted that paying bride price is a good gesture to the girl's parents because it is a sign of appreciation.

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- Xinhua


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