Sh 1 Million
Wednesday night as I perused through Kenyan newspapers online editions, I came across this story and of course the headline caught my attention. Would you pay Sh1 million for a wife? http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/money/-/435440/1187286/-/item/1/-/13l2rk0/-/index.html
I read the story with a great disgust on my face, as I wondered where are we are headed to as a nation with the so-called educated ladies thinking that their parents needed compensation for educating them. As a lady, I thought this was such a public display of naivety. I just couldn´t stop thinking about this story before I decided to share it on my Facebook wall. I outright quoted this,“If only I can make a decision about my marriage negotiations, my husband to-be will never pay a shilling!! I am PRICELESS!!! I thought, the truth is, common sense is of essence at times.
As I read this story on the Daily Nation, there were only four comments on it, however, as I revisited the story the following day, I realised that I was on the same thinking as most people with over 300 comments, some of which were so abusive. The truth is, no amount of money can be equated to a womans worthiness. Not at all, whatever her education!
As a woman, I strongly believe in the institution of marriage and I know that one day, God willing it will come a day when my family will sit down to decide on my dowry. I dread this day, because I really can´t imagine anyone can put monetary value on my worthiness.
Dowry or Bride Price
From the very first time I heard about this word “dowry” I didn´t like it. My mum explained it to me. “Dowry, is a token of appreciation given to the brides family as an expression of how grateful the grooms family were for being allowed to marry into a given family. Initially it was in form of shamba harvest, cows, goats or sheep.” She said.
As I grew up I heard of a new term “bride price” and I still asked my mum about it and she gave me different explanations still on the same line of thought. “It does not really have a difference with dowry, the concept is the same. However, times are changing and with intermarriages, then you cannot physically transport cows from, lets say Kisumu to Msambweni, instead you equate that into money and it becomes easy to pay, hence bride price. Note, it is not a price tag put on a womans worthiness,” she insisted on this point.
Since my primary schooling, and even now when I am old enough to make some sense, I have always been anti-bride price. We have had this discussion not once but several times on a family setting. My parents know how much I dislike it, especially when I think of who they have been to me. Carrying me for nine months and seeing me through the process of birth, this is priceless for my mum. Together with my dad they have supported me in all my endeavours, raised me day and night, cared for me, clothed me, been there for me when I needed them most, took me to the hospital, seen me through 8.4.4 schooling which I consider it my right and not a privilege and therefore, not worthy a compensation.
If you asked me, for any sane woman to put a price on her worthiness is degradation to her value as a human being. After many discussions with my parents, my mum once put it this way “You are very priceless, that I totally agree, especially for you, you have had too many demands and you even suckled the most.
If I am to start quoting how much I need for you, you will remain in my house forever. But, this is what happens, when the day finally comes, be assured we-your parents we may have no say over this. In most cases your uncles and aunties agree on this, as per the traditions of your tribal background. Of course, these vary from tribe to tribe. I know your disgust for bridal price, when the day comes, I will pass your message to all the concerned parties. You are priceless, that I know.” Said my mum.
5000 Kenyan shillings
She later told me about this and it touched my heart. “Recently a man asked for her daughter’s dowry in a very nice way. He said, my daughter at only 26 years, she has been such a great blessing to us as a family. She is the kind of a woman every man would die for. But you are lucky, she choose you and it is love that brings you here to ask for her hand in marriage, all you need to do is to promise that, that same love shall keep you intact forever. That the two of you, shall grow respecting the institution of marriage. If it pleases you, every month when you are capable of doing so, kindly do send me Kshs. 5000 as my upkeep as long as I shall live”. Said the father. This for me, was the best way of asking for a dowry and I said to my parents, “If you really have to ask for a dowry for me, please go this way.”
Many parents have educated their sons and daughters equally, at least that has been the case with my brothers and sisters, so my argument is, who compensates my parents for having educated my brothers? If education is the only things we are looking for as compensation, for all the many men we schooled together, how will their parents be compensated?
When parents are educating their children, my assumption is they try to make them improve their quality of life and to empower them as “knowledge is power”. Therefore, paying of bride price should never be seen as a refund for the money spent on our education.
Norwegians on Dowry
Yesterday evening, I really tried to ask Norwegians concerning bridal price or better yet dowry and you can be sure, this was a new concept altogether.They know nothing to do with bridal price and I had a tough time explaining what it meant in our society.
“That concept has never been applicable in this society and you can be assured no one will ever buy such kind of thinking especially in this modern economy. Initially, the bride parents will foot all the wedding expenses which has always been very expensive. This is changing over time and in most cases, you will find all the three parties contributing towards the wedding. This would be the brides parents, the grooms parents and even the couple. Contribution by the couple only, is even becoming more popular. This is important to remember, they are contributing towards the wedding, nothing like bridal price or dowry, that has never existed in Norway.” said Hellen representing all the people I asked on the same.
Many more Norwegians were actually hearing about the bride price for the first time. So you can imagine, if I got myself a Norwegian man and I have to present him to my Kenyan family and before I know they are quoting over 1.2 million (appx 100,000 Noks) as my bride price, I can see him heading for his next flight back to Norway!
Enjoy your weekend ahead!!