A man without a wife is like a vase without flowers. – African proverb
Marriage in Kenya is considered one of the most sacred events life has to offer. Both spiritual and social, these events are the combination not only of two lives, but also two families and communities. It is said that marriage is the only know incubator for bringing up socially functional children. Not only are the parents then responsible for raising the children, but the whole family stays involved in the parenting process.
Kenyan dating traditionally involves courtship that both families approve of. There are not as many arranged marriages today as there used to be, but often the children will still seek their parents approval for their relationships. Dating begins at around 18-19 years of age in the cities, but it is still uncommon in the villages. Men and women usually get married when they are in their mid-twenties.
The groom’s family pays the bride’s family a dowry to thank them for raising the bride and to compensate them for losing her. Traditionally the dowry is paid with livestock but it is not common for them to pay with cash. After the bride is given away she is literally no longer welcomed to come back to live at home. She becomes the property of her husband.
Like many other African communities, Kenyan’s have a lot of diversity among themselves. There are communities that believe that women are the lesser sex and the men can walk all over them and treat them however they please. On the other end of the spectrum there are those who worship their brides and treat them with honor and respect because they are responsible for bringing the next generation into the world.
Kenyan dating is not really a big social ordeal, dating is called courtship and is basically a time set aside before marriage to find out if they really are a good fit for each other before making a lifelong commitment. Marriage is a not only a big affair, but it is considered a sacred commitment to each other for life. If a marriage does not work out the bride is not welcomed back into families home other than as a visitor. She is expected to find her own support if she leaves her husband. The husband is expected to care for his bride and their family for the duration of his life. He is the breadwinner of the family while the wife stays at home and cares for the family.