Marry Me: The Dilemma of Youth Marriages in Kenya
Kenyan girl has so many teachers online : Many young people in Modern Kenya are ditching the church service for a wedding ceremony under an umbrella or a wooden canopy. The modern question confronting young people is this; Does the conventional marriage proposal where a man kneels on one knee and asks a girl or lady, for that matter, to marry him play any part in the whole longevity of marriage, love, or relationship with in laws? Does it matter whether one goes to church, or is come we stay better? Is come we stay a marriage? With all the problems facing people we know who got married in church, or who opted for a traditional wedding, or whatever, I feel sorry for modern day young people.
Many men are staying away from saying I DO for fear that young Kenyan women have become polluted by social media. They argue that the modern Kenyan girl has so many teachers online who divert them from the traditional male female role in marriage to the sharing of all responsibilities and duties in disregard of gender. One young lady said that she could not see herself washing her husbands under ware, “why should I, he has hands.” She noted. The husband did not respond to this philosophy. He just let it be!
Kenyas’ modern concept of marriage is a construction of the Judeo – Christian tradition. Faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the father of the Lord Jesus Christ, has shaped much of Kenya’s understanding of marriage to mean a divine institution. However, my Christian faith is also guided by my understanding and appeal to nature and culture.
The historical practice in marriage has been gender based. But the modern social media education has turned this relationship into gender neutral. The marriage practice of our fathers is slowly being replaced by social media practices. These practices are resulting in family concepts and practices that are unsustainable. The reason is because most of the popular social media practices are based on the west and its values. In the same way, Hollywood has influenced Africans historically. Today, American social media culture is playing a major role in defining marriage culture in Kenya and Africa in general.
Given that the standard of living in America is much higher than Africa, and the fact that modernity has not transformed financial status of Africans, the effect of a western social media culture makes it impossible for young people to have a cohesive philosophy of life and practice.
But as to the issue of wedding . . . I have no opinion . . . my hope however is that once these young people decide to declare themselves married, they will do so with the best partner: that life within marriage will be full of more peace than war: And that those children who are born from the woman’s womb will continue the divine idea for which God Said, “Be fruitful and multiply and cultivate the earth.” However, I can with confidence suggest that they talk to their pastor, or good honest friends, or listen to what the villagers have to say: The customary process of dowry does not hurt either.
What many young girls are realizing after getting married to their social media ideal is that there is a difference between social media life and the real life. In Kenya, power outage is a constant companion. Therefore the electric cooker needs to be subsidized by a MECO or a sigiri. Shower water has to be subsidized by a karai and buckets of reserve water in the choo. It is important that modernity be taken with a grain of salt. The flavor of western concepts online needs the Kenyan chumvi for the marriage to taste good. Sometimes a woman needs a shamba kidongo for sukuma wiki for when MPESA runs dry.
My grand father and father preached, “A good wife comes from the Lord.” I preach the same. As to a good husband, well . . . the bible is silent!
Teddy Njoroge Kamau, (PhD)
Diaspora Messenger Senior Columnist