Sarah Wangari from Kirinyaga. PHOTO | Courtesy

The majority of women in Central Kenya are single mothers. According to a research conducted by Canadian based firm, 60% of mothers and women in general from central Kenya region are single mothers.

The main reasons causing the disaster are men dwelling in alcohol and rise of murder cases, central Kenya women perceived to be rogue and oppressive by other communities, they are tribalistic, selfish and inhuman.

The ‘single mother epidemic’ in Central Kenya has seen wazee advocating for the re-introduction of polygamy, a widely frowned-upon practice in the region.

While men in Central Kenya are known to have mpango wa kandos, there are calls to re-embrace polygamy after Joseph Kaguthi, the head of Nyumba Kumi Initiative in the country recently caused a furore when he asked women to accommodate their husbands’ lovers as co-wives.

Kaguthi, the one-time no-nonsense provincial administrator, told Bana Kenya that one of the reasons he advocates for polygamy is because “it is selfish and inconsiderate of women not to share their husbands”.

He noted that “We are in a crisis in this region. Our population is dwindling at an alarming rate and soon, it will be irreversible, unless we allow men and women to openly acknowledge polygamous unions.”

He said that polygamy is the only way to ensure that children in the region grow up in families with both parents. Kaguthi argues that “The single parent phenomenon is so widespread and more men and women are growing up without knowing how men and women are supposed to relate to each other.”

Men in Central Kenya were once polygamous for the purposes of wealth generation through dowry and ‘putting together a labour force’ to work on the farms.

“We must embrace who we are as a people. We are not like the coastal communities who enter into polygamous unions for the sake of having a protector, provider and ‘penetrator’,” Kaguthi advised.

Kaguthi pointed out that men preferred to marry women who were industrious and responsible, which is still the case today.

“If you can afford it, you should be allowed to marry more than one woman. We must not hide behind Western cultural values,” he added.

Kaguthi is not a lone crusader for this cause. The chair of the Council of Elders (Kiama Kia Maa) Rware Chapter, Gakuo Matu, supports polygamy, arguing that, “Unlike women in the 19th century, the women of Central Kenya today are industrious, independent and willing to take care of their children. If anything, they are an asset to a man, not a liability.”

Matu reckons that “most men in Central Kenya have two or three women in their lives and the only difference is that only one is recognized while the rest lurk in the shadows which is unfortunate for them and their children.”

 “You can spend Sh5,000 on a wife and she will be happy, but in the case of a mistress, every time you see her, you will have to part with about Sh30,000 on weekend excursions out of town, where you spend on nyama choma and alcohol over and over again,” explains Matu

“Men like new things. After a few decades with the same woman, they start looking for another woman. If a woman stands in the way of that, it makes the man feel trapped and angry,” Matu noted. 

“Before the advent of Christianity, our Kikuyu culture supported polygamy. However, the man had to adequately provide for all the wives and children, ensure their security and all wives and children were treated equally. None was victimised or mistreated by the other and respect was paramount.” Added Matu.

The central Kenya Men are urged to practise polygamy to give back the respect accorded in the olden days. The population has been in a steady decrease following high mortality rate without distinctive increase in the birth rate.

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