The Widows Epidemic in Kenya: They cannot find Husbands. Where are the Men?
With alcoholism, diabetes, liver and kidney failures, cancer, and uncontrollable number of accidents taking men’s lives before they reach prime age, there is a great epidemic that is becoming evident in Kenya. It is no secret that the number of old men in Kenya is declining. Statistics show that of every coffin on a matatu travelling on the Nairobi-Kisumu road, 3 of those are men. Many of these leave young wives and young children with no one to take care of them.
Over the last 30 years, there has been a great migration from the village into the major cities. The growth of Kibera, Mathare, and the springing up of ‘villages’ in Nairobi is a testimony of the desperation of millions of Kenyans who live in the rural areas. The situations in villages are the same as they have been for years. While the government claims that devolution will enhance village development, majority of the rural roads, clinics and infrastructure remain the same. Those who are elected to bring about development spend their times looking at ways to enrich themselves with the billions coming to the county.
Therefore, young couples take off and head to Nairobi, Nakuru, Mombasa, and other towns. When they get there, they realize that houses cost money, sukuma wiki, milk, sugar, unga, even water cost money. Our Asian Indian brothers who control major industrial manufacturing exploit those who find jobs in industrial area. With little to sustain their families, they turn to drinking. The desperation from myopic government, economy, infrastructure, healthcare and joblessness is taking many men to early graves. This is leaving many young women in Kenya without husbands! The stigma of Kenyan culture has created an environment where these women cannot find husbands. Many of these women are God fearing women who will not bar hop to find men!
I sat down with one of these wonderful Christian women to get her take on the situation. She was left to raise her young children alone when her husband died. “The problem we are facing is that our culture does not encourage re-marriage. Even if we wanted to get married, and many of us do, we hear these stories of married women who suffer from sexually transmitted disease from their husbands. I say, me, no, I do not want that.” She argued that the bets are set against young widows in Kenya. “It is alright for a widower to marry a young girl. In fact people celebrate this. But if an older women wants to marry a young man, everyone is up in arms.” Therefore many of these widows go to work then head home and sit in the house lonely. “You would be surprised how many young widows are part of our church’s widows fellowship. It is sad.” She said.
The issue is not just who will marry these women. But the government has an obligation to seek to help the many widows who are left by their husbands without money to pay for the education of their children. Many of these children drop out of school. They sit idly outside kiosks. Before long they become alcoholics. Village women groups whom I find at every wedding or funeral impress me. They bring cups, sufurias, kuni, and they serve the guests and mourners. It is these women who should control the Uwezo fund! They do such a great job with their 100ksh. contributions. And they are women of integrity! They do not forget the widows among them. Women groups are the best programs in the village!
As to the church, these modern pastors need to stop promoting themselves through the purchase of Range Rovers and Mercedes Kompressors. They should instead invest in the lives of the congregations! Majority of those who give money to churches are women.
Most of that money should be invested in programs to support these widows and their children not to buy mansions in Gigiri!“. . . In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helped people. About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. . . . Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. (Peter prayed for her) . . . She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive.” (Acts 9:36ff)
The church should not be a business; it is Divine Ministry on behalf of God to serve the least of these!
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD) HTBluff Associates. Follow #HTBluff