Thursday, November 29, 2007

Why do people elope?

I talked about weddings in my previous post and also mentioned that I prefer couples that wed after staying together because they know each other better. However I do not support young ladies who run away from home without getting the blessing of their parents.

Just the other day a cousin who has been under my mother’s care after doing her form 4 exams, meets a man and within 2 months, they are so happy with each other and ready for marriage. She goes to visit my sister with a few of her belongings, then one night she tells my sister and her husband that she is getting married and moving to her new home the next day.

Now if I may ask what kind of a marriage is that? My sister and her husband were really shocked the only thing they could do is to call relatives to talk some sense into the girl’s head. She was not changing her mind and everything we said sounded like annoying music to her ears. They later told her to go back to my mum’s house and get her approval first.

She grudgingly called my mum, agreed to go back and later invite the man that weekend before she goes. The man and some of his relatives came, went through the usual introduction according to our tradition. He later gave some money to say thank you for the food and a token to my parents. Some men think that when they do this, they can take the girl to their home.

My mother told them it wasn’t enough because the girl is her brother’s daughter, her mother died but her father is still alive upcountry. So she advised them to seek my uncles blessings before they move in together, or better still do a wedding. Why hurry when they will stay together for the rest of their lives.

We all felt relieved but it was short-lived because after two days my sister called to inform me the girl disappeared with her clothes, early morning and went to her sweet heart cum husband. That is how my cousin chose to start her marriage.

This is a very common scenario in Kenya and many parts of Africa. It is very difficult to stop a girl when she falls in love with someone, especially if she is a young girl. However men should be able to control a girl’s emotions, show some maturity by performing at least some of the traditional requirements leading to marriage. Give some dowry at least a goat/sheep if not a cow.

It is very sad that she only knew the man for 2 months and got married without my uncle getting even a chicken as dowry for her daughter, I don’t know if they went for HIV test which is very important before getting into such a relationship. We are waiting to see what will happen if he will go upcountry to see my uncle and my grandmother who also took care of the girl.

It can be sad when such a marriage doesn’t work out and the girl has to run back home, who would she blame?

Anyway I wish them all the best.


Y. said...

Hi Sue,

I'm from Mexico and I don't understand why somebody does have to pay a dowry for the bride's family? is that a way of 'putting a price' on a girl? why don't for the husband's family?

This might be a very simple question for you and I don't intend to bother you with it. Please feel free to respond to it. I'd be very thankful if you do it.

I'm a journalist and I went recently to Kenya. It was only holiday but I liked it so much that I'm still trying to learn more about your country. I am particularly very interested in knowing more about the Marriage Bill (saw your post) because I think this says a lot about a society.

If you want I can tell you something about Mexico.

Thanks a lot in advance.


Sue said...

Thanks Y for visiting my blog; actually bride price is not putting a price on a girl, which will be like buying a girl. Dowry has been in our culture since the days of our ancestors; I believe its like a token of appreciation to the girl’s parents for bringing her up.

The girls parents loose someone to a man and the man's side gain buy getting a daughter-in-law so I think its a way of giving the girls parents something, which is normally in form of animals like cattle, sheep and goat. Now people also give money, the amount and number of animals is dictated by the girl’s relatives and depends on different culture. Like in Kenya there are around 40 tribes, each tribe has a culture to follow.

The dowry can be paid in full, but in some cases the man cannot afford, so the girl’s family can allow it to be paid in installments. Some men pay dowry in installments even when the woman is old.

However many people still marry or stay together without paying dowry because its not a requirement by law.

That is my two cents. I would be glad to hear about Mexican marriage.

y. said...

Thank you for your response, dear Sue,

after reading your post for the first time and having promised you to tell you about mexican traditions, I thought a lot about it and start doing some research myself.

Well, of course there's a lot to tell about now a day traditions, but as we also have ancient cultures and peoples in Mexico, such as the aztecs or mayas --you might have heard about them-- I found out that there's still some aztec weddings in some communities in Mexico.

If I omitted telling that at the very beggining of our conversation, was because in Mexico the opression to ancient cultures was and still is enormous. Anyone belonging to an ancient tribe is misstreated and segregated.

I knew already that there were ancient communities hidden in some parts of Mexico trying to preserve their traditions, but with my research this las two days I found out that there are still even traditional weddings. And to my surprise, this weddings are very similar to those in Kenya. The fiancé and his family are to give a chicken and some flower arrangments as well as food offerings to the bride's family. And the wedding is in náhuatl, the language of these people.

I feel kinda ashamed of telling you that I just made this discovery but such is the opression in which these peoples. I even found some pictures.

And what about your society? is it normal to live in couples before getting married? I read that you prefer the couple do so, but how common it is?

Thanks again.


Anonymous said...

stop complaining about you and show us about kenya

Anonymous said...

Well I assent to but I think the brief should prepare more info then it has.