What’s African about unalloyed misogyny?

The just passed marriage bill is unambiguously the most offensive idea to come out of the 11th Parliament yet. According to the BBC:

MP Samuel Chepkong’a, who proposed the amendment, said that when a woman got married under customary law, she understood that the marriage was open to polygamy, so no consultation was necessary, Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper reports.

Mohammed Junet, an MP representing a constituency from the western Nyanza province, agreed.

“When you marry an African woman, she must know the second one is on the way and a third wife… this is Africa,”

This is Grade A horse manure.

President Kenyatta should veto this bill. And the group of Kenyan MPs who think that disempowering women is a smart idea are advised to watch the video below of President Kibaki at a press conference ostensibly to confirm to Kenyans that he has ONLY ONE WIFE, following rumors to the contrary [More here].

Also, Mr. Kenyatta should require that before he assents to the bill it must expressly forbid dabbling in both civil and “customary” marriages because the resultant legal arbitrage only benefits men. SOMEONE TELL ME, WHY DO WE NEED A DUAL SYSTEM ANYWAY??? A woman entering a civil marriage should have the guarantee that it will always remain so, with stiff penalties for men who violate the contract. The provisions for Muslims have always been clear and should remain so.


And just for good measure, they should also hear what Chimanda has to say about gender relations:


More on the unbelievably sophomoric debate on this matter in the National Assembly here.

3 thoughts on “What’s African about unalloyed misogyny?

  1. I think “Africa” and “African” is being used here to mean “this is what my very narrow group wants and apparently the people who would be impacted with this shouldn’t have the most say”.


  2. I think it shows that as Kenyans we are dealing with the failures of nationalisms and in our case tribalisms that are beyond question male-dominated, androcentric and heteronormative in ideology and practice. It is a patriarchal approach that seeks to maintain and reinforce the power of the privileged few against the interests of those in the margins. This isn’t an issue of simply, ‘men vs women’ in the marriage institution but rather that of those in power vs those without. Polygamy is a rich man’s ‘reward’, rich men in an unequal society who have gained their wealth at the expense of the majority be it men or women. Instead of members of parliament working towards reducing structural inequality, they instead seek to protect an institution that celebrates it. That wealthy and powerful men ‘deserve’ many wives (wives in this case that rely on them financially and/or are usually younger therefore more likely to be vulnerable) and men without wealth/power do not; is a capitalist patriarchal construct that is perpetuated by systems/laws that seek to preserve polygamy as an institution of importance in a country with deep seated problems that deserve more resources and attention in national discourse.


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