A marriage of convenience

For decades now, Kenyans have been marrying people from First World countries in order to take advantage of the more stable economic conditions.

Now that Kenyans’ foreign partners can also do the same, we may just witness an upsurge in foreigners who, for various reasons, want to stay in Kenya and will do whatever they can to do so.

The majority of these marriages of convenience, however, are with those who desire to live in foreign nations, especially the United States of America, Europe, and the United Kingdom.

For some people, the need to get married is realised once they land in these foreign shores and their student or visit visa expires, and yet they don’t want to come back.

Thereafter, months – and sometimes years – are spent living as an illegal alien, playing cat and mouse games with the immigration authorities of these lands.

Being in a country illegally is not a bed of roses; it means that one is without status or recognition in that country.

The only jobs available are odd jobs such as dishwashing or working in hospital sluice rooms.

These jobs pay wages by the hour, forcing the immigrant to engage in other jobs just to make ends meet.

The illegal immigrant is a fugitive – always having to hide and being on the run.

They run away from jobs, cities, and people, to prevent the long arm of the law from catching up with them.

When caught, deportation is inevitable. Deportations are often dramatic experiences where a person is hounded out of the country and frog marched into an aeroplane headed back home within 24 hours.

There is often no time given to pack and organise finances.

Many hapless deportees have landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport with nothing more than a duffle bag and a few dollars after being abroad for several years.

The desperation of being in this situation is what leads some people to marry for papers.

Some couples fall genuinely in love, are married, and then split up for one reason or the other.

Accusations that it was all in the quest for papers may be raised, even if absolutely not true.

But for many other couples, the foreigner believes that they and their Kenyan spouse are in the marriage for keeps, love, and commitment.

It often comes as a surprise to them after several years when they discover that their spouse has residency and wants out.

Take the case of one German man known as Manfred Von Benecke, who lives in Düsseldorf.

He is a 66-year-old pensioner who fell in love with and married a beautiful Kenyan woman known as Wekesho in a civil ceremony in Mombasa.



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