Written by Jeffer Koome, a male recent university graduate in Kenya:
Tribes used to provide social support and educate the youth. Nowadays, the elders to these tribes who were tasked with passing on the mantle of educating, and morally guiding the youths are compromised by corruption. The youths are being influenced by the western culture which is diluting their heritage and cultural practices. Urbanization is also to blame as most youths don’t want to stay behind and take over their parents’ farms and continue the family cultures. It’s sad.
I believe the use of the word community shows inclusivity especially among young people. We may be different in our origins but we see each other as part of one community regardless. A good example in Kenya we have tribes like Kikuyu or Kalenjin with more than 5 sub-tribes in it. Young people among a subtribe find it hard to describe another young person from a different sub-tribe of the same tribe as different from them and I believe that’s why the word community is common among the young generation to show we are one and I don’t care which subtribe or tribe you come from.
Dowry and bride price is still in practice to date. but the golden rule in all cultures is that no matter how wealthy you are, you can never finish paying the Dowry or bride price. Doing so is termed disrespectful as that is to say you don’t want to visit your inlaws again because you don’t owe them anything
Let me break it in parts since every community as a different way of calculating the dowry.
Some of the common practices that seem to cut across are:
- The modern families and some of the educated families and people living in major towns, they still practice the traditions based on where they come from but dowry is paid in cash. For example, if the tradition says you bring 3cows and 2goats, as the man you should have prior knowledge and get the equivalent cash.
- For the more traditional families in the rural areas and some very hardcore traditionalist communists like the Maasai, you have to come physically with the animal to the lady’s house. This is because to them a live animal is way more valuable than any currency equivalent.
- There is an emerging trend where inlaws that the parents and uncles to the bride will equate the bride price to the amount of money they have spent on her and if she as graduated from university, the price goes higher. Very discouraging to the lads but its what it is. In some instances, men have walked out of a dowry negotiation as the targets were too high and termed it exploitation.
- Other families especially in the educated group will tell the man to bless them with what they have since they know they have found a good wife in their daughter and that dowry price is determined by the groom.
The older generation, most of them they are having none of that, Some with daughters only see it as a retirement option. its crazy.
however, Among the young people, they feel like going through with the bride price is like putting yourself in serious debt as most can’t afford the amount even involved in the organizations as its a ceremony on its own with hundreds if not more people in some cases attending.
Many young women are opting to stay with their boyfriends and they are starting families secretly. Some live in fear of being cast out if they are found to be living with someone and they are not blessed by parents or guardians.
But the trendy option among the young couples of going to the Attorney generals office and getting certified as married, Its really gaining traction in recent time
Patricia Mumbua Kombo has planted thousands of trees in Kenya and educates students about environmental issues. She’s a journalism university student.
Beverly Nkirote Mutwiri is a sexual and reproductive health and rights advocate from Kenya. She speaks to Girls’ Globe about the challenges she has encountered as a young woman in a patriarchal society.