The month of August 2021 has been quite eventful. The list of occurrences seeking our attention has been the issue of divorce. I don’t mean to say that the world reported the first case of divorce since creation; instead, we were aroused to the fact that it is real.
Like many human phenomena, the world is always silent when it affects the common man, but when the big people are touched, we are aroused to our feet. The assumption is that the small man is affected by different problems that shake the high and mighty. This, however, is not the case; human problems are no respecters of persons. Recently, the philanthropic community was hit squarely by the divorce between Bill and Melinda Gates. No one saw this coming, having seen their tremendous efforts in supporting many altruistic causes globally.
But this even came closer home when the Kenyan Media was clouded with the infamous divorce between Governor Alfred Mutua and Lilian Ng’ang’a. This shocked me. I can remember attending the graduation of my Cousin at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. Among the graduates of the class of 2019 was the first lady of Machakos County, having completed her Master’s degree. It was colorful seeing the governor in academic regalia standing tall close to his woman. But it is now a relic of the past, though a lot can still happen as we saw her gracing Mutua’s fifty-first birthday. Or we call this maturity, for the end of relationship should not mean the end of friendship. This only happens when you end it well and maturely. Immediately after this, another shocker followed, under the headlines, “Trevor Ombija dumped, after paying dowry.” Trevor is a thriving Journalist with The Royal Media Services and a promising young man at the prime of his youth.
I don’t know what caused these conspicuous divorces. If financial muscle and power were sufficient to save marriages, these cases should not have taken the direction we are now discussing. The parties involved have had their say, marked with a lot of euphemism, which is a good thing, for it is safe and respectful to protect your ex-partner from the scornful eye of the public. Sometimes, people divorce not because of a problem but because of incompatibility of personalities, something that catches up with us sooner or later, simply because we didn’t do our assignments well while courting. This is supposed to be a sufficient lesson for all young people to make their courtship count. Don’t confuse yourself with extreme liberties that confuse you and prevent you from making informed decisions. Some of this could be granting privileges not yet earned. I am not alluding to the same, the cases of governor Mutua and Trevor, but this could be true about the millions of cases too frequent to be reported.
What did the world have to say?
People have had their say. Some have cursed and blamed. Painfully enough, in their tribunal of tongues and opinions, the majority have declared the women involved guilty. This reminds me of Dolly Parton’s lyrics, “My mistakes are no worse than yours Just because I’m a woman” in her song, “Just Because I’m A Woman.” It seems that the men involved had done so well that they were not supposed to be divorcees, and in case it happens, then the women are wrong. Again I am not saying that the women were right. I, like you, don’t know. But we should find a good base for our opinions than speculation and biases harboured around us.
The other loud and great debate was based on mixed marriages. Coincidentally, Governor Mutua is a Kamba, Lilian Ng’ang’a a Kikuyu, Trevor is a Luo, and his fiancee was allegedly a Kalenjin. Many people have had great debates around this. In one of the online groups I participate in, we had a severe discussion erupting from the same till midnight. Prominent and decided against intertribal marriage alliances, was a man of no mean experience as far as masculinity is concerned; the oldest Kenyan on Twitter, Mzee Kibor (Patron). His advice and unequivocal positions were posted on his Twitter handle discouraging mixed marriages.
Is there a problem with mixed marriages, especially intertribal?
What do you think about this sensitive topic? I would like to get your candid and sincere response on the chat platform. It would be fun if you stopped reading now, scroll down there and drop your comment before I ‘corrupt’ you with my opinion. But it is okay if you read my thoughts first.
What are the statistics?
The average rate of divorce across all years and all regions stands at 4.08 divorces for every 1,000 married people. What about in the US? Almost 50 percent of all marriages in the United States are predicted to end in divorce or separation. Researchers estimate that 41 percent of all first marriages end in divorce. The divorce rate in Canada stands at 40%. And which country leads the pack? According to the UN, the country with the highest divorce rate globally is the Maldives, with 10.97 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants per year. The Maldives, the dream destination of every dime piece! As of 2018, Guatemala had the least divorced population globally, with 0.3 divorces per every 1,000 population. Qatar followed with 0.4 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants.
The global statistics are already worrying without considering the issues of mixed marriages. This should inform us that there is more that brings about divorce than mixed marriages. The leading country is not common with cases of mixed marriages. To understand the position of intermarriages in this issue, we may need to consider how intermarriages affect the union of partners in marriage.
When two people come together, there is always a need for adjustment to accommodate each other, culture notwithstanding. Suppose a white marries a white or a Luo marries a Luo. In this case, there are already two personalities raised differently, who need to adjust to find a winning equilibrium to cushion their union. In short, two parties must find a win-win situation that favors both of them. This, however, becomes even much more when the two parties come from two diverse cultures and backgrounds. The need two adjust is exacerbated by cultural diversity. So it would be easier when you share culture, especially if you’re the rigid type, characterized by repugnance, which in most cases is all of us.
A lot of things influence people’s way of life. These may include traditions, religion, education, and exposure. If you’re not together in all these essential influencers of human behavior, you have significant work to do.
Let us imagine an individual, Okaltako, a Luo, and a Christian, who finished his formal education after graduating from High school. He has made his plot of success through his acute business acumen, and he is at a level he commands a fine taste of the female folk. The lady he is interested in, Amina, is a Buddhist, a Lecturer in the Department of International Studies, and from the Kamba community. Okaltako can win the woman through his vibes, but later they will be confronted with a need to adjust a lot, which if they are not ready for, then it is a recipe for disaster.
What about Chitunga and Kemunto, who met in the department of Anatomy? Both are Muslims, but whereas Chitunga is a Luhya, Kemunto is a fertile Kisii damsel? They have a reasonable edge that can make things work irrespective of their traditions, and they may sacrifice it and subscribe to Sharia laws and still move on well.
For me, culture is essential, and the more you share, the easier it will be for you to accommodate each other. However, you must realize that even if you were matching in all things, cultural compatibility is not a sure yardstick to a successful marriage. The problems in marriage are not only cultural. There are finances, communication, maturity, and many more that need good attention.
Don’t insist on marrying a fool from your culture and ignoring a dime piece that could make you ten times better because you’re a slave of culture.
Don’t ignore your culture and all other essential factors that make your marital union a complete whole. But, remember that culture is influenced by a lot of things, including but not limited to education, religion, exposure etc.
Culture is often a scapegoat accused by people who are not ready for marriage and assume that marriage works on autopilot mode. If you get married, then be prepared to work; ask your dream couple! They had to work it out. Be careful while making your choice.
The most important thing in marriage is the person. It outshadows culture and any other wall of seclusion that we often build around us.