Kenya polygamous law: “Either you become a victim of polygamy, or of adultery”

Posted on March 22, 2014 06:00 pm

Reports emerging from Kenya yesterday was that the country’s parliament passed a bill allowing men to marry as many women as they want despite a backlash from women lawmakers. The development that took place miles away led to a heated debate with a friend who lives in Kampala, the Ugandan capital. As one of those men who don’t subscribe to marriage as concept, I was anti-law and to him he was pro-law which he described as very African and to him, the ancient minded Kenyan male parliamentarians have guarded the long held traditions of African societies. One reality that women have to live with, majority of these creatures called men will never and cannot stay faithful to one woman. Only fools believe otherwise. To hypocritical lot, that sounds too extreme and unfashionable. Adultery is no longer concentrated among the celebrities from political class like former American president Bill Clinton to Hollywood types like Arnold Schwarzenegger it is a common occurrence. However, there remain a small minority of men out there who stay faithful to their wives, spouses or partners but the majority of women are either polygamous or having affairs with more than one woman. The Kenyan law is unfortunate and untimely in a country with the fourth highest prevalence of HIV AIDS in the world as per 2013 global statistics.

According to a 2011 study, Kenyan men are said to be naturally polygamous where they get married to one woman and at the same time have concubines. In 2012, Kenya had the highest ‘cheating’ murder rates in sub Saharan African according to an independent report. In this era of globalization and Internet, there is no doubt in my conscious that more men and a growing number of women will continue to have affairs with other women and men respectively and those married engage in polygamous affairs rendering the monogamous concept irrelevant. There are plenty cases being reported where men’s loves for their wives seem to be rarely reciprocated online as compared to the ‘street love’ and family gatherings. I have so many married friends but few male displays their wives in their photo galleries, compared with women who proudly do so with their husbands and children. Sadly, that is the future trend and even if you disagree with me, its the painful reality. For those Kenyan women who are faithful, I can only declare them endangered as their country’s rhinos and elephants, almost extinct species that will not exist in Kenyan family composition in the decades to come.

Aerial view of Nairobi, the Kenyan capital where the meeting took place
Aerial view of Nairobi, the Kenyan capital

The Kampala friend who suspects his father of having almost affairs with some women, pointed out to me cynically that his father’s adventures are not uncommon and even though himself is dating a woman, he confessed to me that if he got the opportunity, he’d easily do the same as that is not a big deal. When I asked him what he’d do if his woman was to do the same, he said; “I will slaughter her alive.” His father is quite a successful businessman in Kampala but nevertheless his behaviors have made the son get accustomed to the infidelity and its grown deep in his head. Research shows that one in every 10 Kenyan men, four of them are polygamous, with the rest remaining polygamous even after they’ve been married to one woman. And as far as studies show, only two out of ten Kenyan men have been faithful to their wives. Of course that is not a Kenyan problem alone. All over the world, I don’t know of any country that infidelity is not rampant. A survey carried in East African region four years ago showed a large percentage of men have had an affair at least twice in their marriage lives and are contemplating having three more before their twilight and the majority have never been loyal to their wives and girlfriends.The percentage of women who have had an affair is smaller than that of men according to another study of the same region which include Kenya and I reckon the percentage of faithful men should be smaller overall in other East African countries.

But most of married men in Kenya today are of the older generations, meaning they still mostly uphold Kenya’s traditional marriage values, which include polygamy and rare faithfulness to spouses but passing a law to suppress women is archaic and unthinkable in this age and era. Contador Harrison defines polygamy as a practice of irresponsible and buffoon men and is a preserve of poor and uneducated idiots, and have no sense of responsibilities nor chance for success in their lives. In Kenya, a women advocacy report last year cited how Kenyan polygamous men abandon their wives, homes, leave their children, and marry other women without informing nor divorcing the first wives. Why on earth would the most vulnerable people in Kenyan society the children and women be oppressed instead of being uplifted by their men. No doubt chauvinists in Kenya are among the cruelest in the world. Kenyan women might now say why trouble themselves with notion of marriage and why not just adopt free sex as in the developed world, where they won’t be subject to all those dashed expectations and marriage problems? In one of the most unequal countries in the world, the dream of social equality has gone and perhaps a true equality between men and women will forever be a utopia in Republic of Kenya. Economic disparity the country’s 2010 constitution wanted to tackle through gender equality will for now remain as evident as the difference in Kenyan male parliamentarians numerical strength over their women counterparts.

Contador Harrison