I was traveling in a matatu (Kenyan public transport) from the City center to my home (within one of the shopping centers in the outskirts of Nairobi). I sat next to a lady who told me she was going to the same shopping centre for the first time and wondered how far it was. I told her it is about one hour drive from the city center.
Since we were coming from the city center we had some distance to cover. To manage her boredom, she engaged me in a conversation by asking which part of Kenya I come from. This is very common opening sentence with Kenyans` conversation when they want to know your tribe and switch to native languages. Apparently, she realized we are from the same part of Kenya. She told me she was once married in the same area as my upcountry home but got a divorce as a result of a childless marriage and was in her second marriage.
She narrated to me how she persevered 10 years without a child and being frustrated by her mother in law, she decided to quit. The husband (former) opted to marry another woman after being convinced by the mother. I asked her whether she has a child now and so on. She told me that she doesn’t have one yet after two years in the second marriage. I really felt sorry for this lady .The issue must have been very hurting that she could share with a stranger. I asked her if she has gone for medical advice, she said she has done that without success and is looking for another doctor. I encouraged her that she will one day succeed. I even advised her to visit Dr. Noreh (The first Doctor to undertake the first successful IVF process in Kenya) at his Afya Center clinic. She agreed to pay him a visit.
This encounter brings me to what I want to share today. The devastating impact of childless marriage to a woman and the attitude of Africans towards child adoption.
It is a common case with women all over the world. The causes may be many ranging from infertility caused by many things. I am not a doctor and may not know the details. Cases of infertile men are also there, but in African culture it is normally the woman to be blamed and not the man. The woman will be looked at as an outcast and should be banished from the home. Some cultures in Kenya allow the woman to bring a co-wife even a sister, but most of the time the woman is sent away or divorced to allow the man to marry another woman.
My question is that is this fair? Is this the marriage for better and for worse till death do us part? The woman has always been on the receiving end of human rights abuse and traditional culture even for factors beyond her control. No woman or man chose to be infertile or unable to bear child.
One thing that is amazing is that most Africans like imitating the west, but when it comes to culture we cannot compromise. Most people in the west are very understanding when it comes to such problems. They would willingly adopt a child or children; they even come to Africa to adopt a needy child.
We have many orphans in Africa, especially those whose parents have died as a result of HIV/AIDs. Unfortunately many are ignored by their relatives and taken to homes or left upcountry for endless suffering.
I was once told a story of an old man selling his property in Kenya, I asked why? I was told its because his only son an only child had died, so he did not see it necessary to own a property he had bought for the son to inherit. I was shocked and wondered if he had any other relatives or even a needy child he could adopt from a relative or from a home. This is a typical African attitude that when my child is gone, everything is lost. Without a child the woman is not worth being a wife.
If only Africans and Kenyans in particular would change their attitude about child adoption and see it as a positive decision, we will solve two main problems. We will sustain marriages not blessed by children of their own. Secondly, orphans will be accommodated in such homes and reduce their suffering leading to poverty.
I personally have adopted one in my home not because I could not get my own but to help an orphan. What about you?