Tuesday, November 30, 2010



By WILLIAM OCHIENGPosted Monday, November 29 2010 at 19:43

On November 20, a Mr Paul Mungai of Kamangu Village in Kikuyu arrived home early, checked whether his entire family was home, locked his house, and murdered his wife Sera Wambui and two sons.

The only survivor of the carnage was his two-year-old son Joshua Mbugua, who escaped through a hole in the earthen wall. After killing the three, Mungai committed suicide by hanging himself with a rope inside the house.

The killings left a sombre mood in Kamangu, with every one wondering about the nature and cause of the gruesome treachery. If Mungai had a bone to pick with his wife, why did he include the young and innocent children in the outrage and how will the lucky Joshua Mbugua cope with life?

But the Kamangu tragedy is just one of many similar tragedies happening all over Kenya, some going completely unnoticed.

Almost every two weeks, we hear of such murders in Turkana, Nyeri, Nyalenda, Migori, Ikolomani, Ogembo — name it. In fact, Kenyans no longer pay attention to them, but these murders are mind-boggling and surreal.

Are we off the tether? Has the nation gone mad? Is the end of the world around the corner? What explanations can we get from our churches?

Is it the economy? Is it general alcoholism? Is it the new Constitution? Are we over-crowded? Oh, man, come on. What is it? Increasingly, most people cannot bear the burden of marriage.

Wherever men or women gather together, they mostly discuss the pains of marriage. Most can no longer sustain individualised existence with a partner away from the traditional ethnic support and supervision.

More importantly, the gender doctrine of equality is tearing our souls apart. Women today are as cock-eyed as alligators; and most men are psychologically impotent.

While in folklore, man was the bread-winner, increasingly, women are taking over that role. And even in situations where they have not yet taken over, today many women can look after themselves.

According to Jomo Kenyatta, once upon a time, women were the rulers of Kikuyuland. They grew strong, free-willed, prosperous, and extremely dictatorial. Men, under them, got fidgety, insecure, and worried.

One day, a wise old man called all the men to a secret meeting, asking them to cheat their wives that they were going to a gala hunting. There, in the bush, the old man told the gathered men to go back and make sure that every woman was made pregnant, and that when the women got tired with child “you must carry out a clean coup d’etat.” That is when and how power and control reverted to men.

In the West, to avoid the rising power of womanhood, some men have taken to sexually befriending, and even marrying, one another.

But perhaps the cleanest way to escape the rising complexes of marriage is to disband the institution altogether. If children are what ties us in marriage, neater social and state arrangements can be made to enable men and women to share and bring up children, as they stay apart.

In countries like Brazil and the United States, the single parenthood concept is getting accepted and preferred.

The problems of marriage have been with us for centuries. Even our Stone Age ancestors had marital problems, although I understand from anthropologists that the Stone Agers did not attach much significance to the institution of marriage.

The problem with Kenyans is that they want to run their marriage the way their ancestors did, without taking into account the changed economic and social circumstances.

In marriage, one has to forego many little liberties — including those which our new Constitution calls human rights. You cannot walk on your head in your house without somebody sneering.

You cannot sleep under your bed without somebody asking why. You cannot snore as you like without disgusting someone. Yes, you cannot roast a lizard in your own pan without causing a rebellion.

Marriage looks to me the most peculiar, irrational, selfish and restrictive institution man ever invented. I only hope future Kenyan generations will have the moral courage to abolish it. For I am sure the human race can continue without it.

We have more insects in the world than we have human beings. Insects do not marry.

Prof Ochieng’ teaches history at Maseno University.

Add a comment (3 comments so far)

  1. Submitted by wavidani
    Posted November 30, 2010 05:18 PM

    Of your rocker?Marriage is optional.If you made a mistake, divorce is there.Marriage is what holds society together and hence the country.More should be done to promote it, like tax credits to married couples.Are you now openly promoting Homosexuality?Hope your wife read this, if you have one!

  2. Submitted by The_Reformer
    Posted November 30, 2010 03:42 PM

    I disagree. Marriage is not an institution.Also the idea that single parenting is good is crazy.Do you know what this has done to say UK? It has turned into what is now called 'broken Britain'Kids raised like this have no stability and are more likely to commit crimes.Just because some people have killed their wives does not mean marriage is bad.Lastly we are all products of marriage!!Two men/women cannot reproduce.Good day.

  3. Submitted by Lilyen
    Posted November 30, 2010 04:08 AM

    May I ask, good professor, are you married? And, your parents, were they married? We have road accidents every day; shall we do away with driving? Our children and youths are growing fat – yes, obesity; shall we abolish food? Oh, the air is so polluted nowadays; should we stop breathing? Secondary schools are churning ‘failures’ who cannot make it to university; shall we abolish secondary education? Spouses have been butchering their families, emotionally, since time immemorial. Marriage is here to stay. It is a matter of choice.