It's His Will
By Titus Mutuma (Kenya)
In different sets and aspects of life globally, there are phenomena which can never be reversed. Human life is the most sacred component in the universe meant to make advances in the existing and non existing matters.
In the early days, traditions, values and norms were agreed upon by the elders to guide and secure the ways of human life. People conformed to these rules and ethics. For example, sex before marriage wasn’t allowed in almost all communities in Kenya. Some women who became pregnant before marriage earned abandonment or rejection, death, seclusion, forced marriage and other sorts of lethal penalties which made all the members of the society remain steadfast to the morals and ethics of the societies. Some were universal whilst others aimed for specific societies.
Today, laws through written charters are made by governments to ensure that human life and the natural resources are conserved. Even though these written documents gather dust in the legal offices. The post world is a duplicate of the period before independence. The powerful legacy of the haves is still dominating in the society. In Rumwe, an organization for the temporal foreign Nairobians to sense something good, was formed but got stuck in the city. The latest activity performed by Gamwe people was during a burial ceremony of their very own who lived for more than 100 bends of fingers.
The people’s greatest role is joining hands during grief while ignoring the visible, existing and immediate grounds and needs of the majority. They tend to believe that the ‘have nots’ are the common fraction in the village who were created by the gods. The victims are always the most wanted. In the midst, the society is too slow at reacting towards achieving positive aspects of the peoples’ day to day affairs.
In Rumwe village, collective responsibilities seem to have weakened. The oneness is today untraceable and at diminished degrees and there is nothing left to salvage. All aspects of life have become personal. Children are oriented to intense labor instead of being taken to school. Young girls are vulnerable to discrimination and unplanned breeding of children in the midst of poverty because the young men in Rumwe village perceive it to be like fun. They consequently abandon the single mothers. Women are left to suffer and bear the burden of a child’s upkeep.
It is his will, the man. It is hard to unravel the intentions of the anonymous father. In the hands of the mother, the child has no options other than to encounter single parenthood resulting to partial affection and warmth. And so today, I confirm the firmness of all the mothers globally who prefer not to terminate the life of the unborn child. In spite of the ups and downs, the young people should stand strong on their feet to denounce the formless elements in the society in order to create peoples’ valued endeavors. The cycle of the intended lack of favorable ends in generations is so unpleasant. The children born out of wedlock are the most vulnerable victims. They easily become orphans, depressed, exposure to violence from step parents, rejected, hopeless, close family disconnection and the rest tenets of their life seem blurred.
The foreign son was born and brought up in Rumwe village. It is an average economy society and people depend on subsistence farming. Until late 90s, coffee was the major cash crop but since then market prices plunged downward. The renowned farmers uprooted coffee plantations. Almost all homesteads have extended families. Due to large numbers of family members, labor is adequate although the farm products don’t reciprocate due to dynamic climatic conditions affecting the whole world.
Hunger and poverty is an ordinary issue. Due to high population, people end up remaining with small pieces (plots) of land. A piece of land is an icon of wealth. Neighboring communities still raise hatchets to each other as they fight for ancestral land, leading to endless unhealthy disputes. Young men demand their cut. They are intended for hire, for sale to use as a dowry or rightly for cultivation. In reality, the land becomes a smaller portion and then the products are fewer. The wise man will say, ‘If five acres didn’t satisfy me for years, where will a half an acre take you my son?’
An early marriage remains a major drive that makes young men acquire land on demand. The young energetic people in the village therefore remain idle in the long hours of the day. As some engage in conflicting relations, ‘eye for an eye’ in the neighborhoods, the playgrounds become battlefields while others are breaking doors as mbwa kali bark at them endlessly and women from the market walk the pathways in fear as the late night men leave drinking joints roaring and staggering wide on the way. Some men sell the few assets in the house to make money and cater for the intoxicated local brew. The children and the mother starve at home.
Nevertheless Rumwe village has produced a large number of proficient women. There are numerous doctors, teachers, senior security officers, lawyers, business developers, entrepreneurs and senior government officers. They have acted as the role model towards the young generations. Today, every avenue or street has a beggar. The local societal traditions blind the men and make them believe that it is important to have a child before you die.
Death is unpredictable. ‘People will remember you through the child or, if none, you will be forgotten’. In addition, some people take advantage of the innocent dress to put their capability or manhood to test before marriage. Today, almost every man has a child born out of wedlock. Even some of the senior school-going boys fall into the bracket. As they say, change is inevitable. The odds which were there in the past are today’s fashionable way of life. What was thought to be inner wear has now turned to be the ribbon for the public.
The insights of my village are in my finger tips. Matumus is a young man who has been brought up in the rural set-up of Rumwe. He too falls in the group of single parenthood. It is an experience that seems to be a normal way of life when in it. Difficult times occur because the disadvantages of being born out of wedlock are very many. There is no girl who is forced into a marriage because of pregnancy. For example, schooling with children brought up in a matrimonial home and living without a blood sister or brother just like the majority is a challenge. In most times, when such a child is requested by schools or any other institution to bring parents during meetings or legal matters, they go pleading with any elderly person in the village. This is a major force causing school drop outs.
When Matumus was in Kindergtern School, her mother was in form four in St. Sarete School. She regularly left her school to come home and attend the Kindergtern parent meeting day. Matumus was too young to understand this other part of life. The sole grandfather (his mother’s father) was responsible for there upkeep. During the end term exam results both the Matumus and his mother presented their result slips to Mbamwa (Matumus’ grandfather) for overview. They usually say, ‘like the father, like the son’ but in the case of Matumus, it was his mother.
Their family is not stable. Sometimes famine hits. Young people in the village are prepared to attend to farm chores at early ages. This means that growth in the village or from such a background is regrettable. Children who have better backgrounds meet in the playgrounds to exploit their talents during the day. Matumus didn’t have any other option than to turn up to the farm with other elderly family members. The relations in the village are defined by the status of the family. The well kept children are only allowed to intermingle with the other classified children. It was not possible to hire casual people to work on the farm. At ten, the hands hardened. The endless toiling and moiling hardens hands. One of the uncles pierced Matumus on his thighs with fingernails until some flesh was cut a punishment after forgetting to give cows grass. Today, at 25, Matumus has a scar to show.
‘No work, no pay’ translated to ‘no work, no food’ is a slogan that is still valid today to the families of Rumwe village. In the neighborhood a girl called Kagii cries foul every day because she wants to know her father. I usually rushed to the grass thatched fence to listen to exactly whatever had happened to make her cry so loud in the thick darkness. From a distance I learnt that some woman married as second wife of her grandfather had thrown her out of the house in the dark. The claims were that Kagii didn’t fetch enough water from the neighbor’s borehole; she didn’t sweep the earthen house and wash the utensils and the food didn’t boil well. Kagii must have arrived home from school at almost at 1800hrs every day and this means that she couldn’t meet all these home chores. She walked for more than five kilometers to school daily. As further punishment, she was told to milk the cow. There was always no light from their house since they didn’t have kerosene fuel. Kagii always went to school without doing her homework. Thus children end up creating low morale and interest towards education, and this leads to poor performance. Her mother left home for Ngusisi, a white’s man agriculture estate in Timau to look for a job. Timau is some 200kms away from home. She only comes home once in a while (twice a year). Despite of the job, Kagii still doesn’t afford shoes for school.
Fortunately, her grandmother caters to some of her basic needs. Kind enough, her grandmother helped in tracing her father who at first denied her. Kagii confirmed from her mother at Ngusisi, who rightly approved. Her father was a prominent businessman in the nearby shopping center. To avoid public attention he accepted to cut the story short. Kagii’s father had already married and was already blessed with three children. Responsibility turned to him, such as paying the school fees and other necessary basic needs, though secretively. He didn’t wish his matrimonial wife to know about Kagii. Even though, it wasn’t possible for Kagii to move to the new home because of the step mother, she settled on staying with her grandmother.
Immediately after Kagii completed primary school, nobody bothered anymore about her welfare and she therefore didn’t manage to join secondary school. Later in the year she fled for the city in search of any, any kind of job vacancy. In the city she became responsible for her own welfare. Subject to exploitation is part and parcel of the day. Just like other unfortunate women in education, she was forced to work as a house girl in Umoja two estates. Some days she relied on manual jobs like washing clothes for people, but the money was not enough to meet her personal basic needs. For several days she went without food. In two years time, she came back home to the village with a baby girl child. Problems doubled. She was unable to meet basic needs for either herself or the child.
In birth certificate
So shy to inquire from his mother,
And no one seems to know,
It’s his will,
Matumus is now an orphan
In this year, 1985,
It is the year of birth,
16th February is the Matumus birthday,
As it is in the birth certificate,
His mother’s name,
Lovely Kind Mother,
Still on the birth certificate,
I am so keen on it,
There is a blank space,
His father’s name,
It has a blank space,
Dash, Dash, Dash,
The late mother,
Now three years ago,
Draftsmen of single parenthood,
It’s his will,
‘My son, God loves you’
Life goes on,
Man must live,
Little by little energy,
Day by day,
Just to enrich education, health and hope,
We are all human beings.
In the Matumus family only, there are another six cousins who have no place to call home. It is even worse for the girls. A girl has no right to acquire or inherit any property from their home of birth. The traditions are still preserved. Despite strong traditions, the flow of modern ideas is like the River Nile - unstoppable. Therefore, the society welcomed the young peoples’ way of life without any opposition. As the elderly or the aged didn’t experience the actions and reactions of the digital century, they sit in circles to wait and see the revolution. They are at the edge pointing out to young men who have not yet proven their manhood. ‘Maybe he is barren’. They point at each other’s son. Information about them is always at the finger tips.
They expected each man to bring a young girl in their hut for at least one night. And when Nkagna brought a girl, his conservative parents were so happy. Nkagna is my neighbor and an age mate. The girl was familiar to me. From her background, she left her own child aged two and a half years. Nkagna wanted to marry her. Within a short time, some few bags of maize and beans and a cow were exchanged to the parents of the girl. Her child was left behind in the hands of grandparents. From further investigation, the child is a girl. I am not very sure whether the girl will be provided with sufficient education since even her mother had just dropped from Form One because of pregnancy. Pregnant girls at school terminate their education very fast because of the shame, and it is not allowed in local secondary schools.
One of our own bloods was literally rejected by her father. The episodes were in their immediate neighborhood before migration. They claimed that the long-lived home had been bewitched. Mysa is a man of high integrity in Rumwe society although he is so rare in the village. He has achieved so many things in his life. Nevertheless, there is no one who is perfect in all his/her ways of life. From observation, the rejected daughter who is now almost at adult age is a clear duplicate of Mysa. Though he later accepted her and took over all the responsibilities. The rightful spectators said, ‘There was no need for a DNA test. She exactly resembles him. They all have chocolate skin color and their heads – brains, nose, eyes – are equally the same’. Today, the few ‘haves’ in the society are susceptible to children out of marriage. It appears to be like a norm. It is so disappointing because even the established men of the Rumwe village too abandon and reject there own responsibilities. These children are the neediest part of the society. The rich die out for the city and also the Diasporas while others seek for transfers from places of work to hide.
‘----In September 2000, Molije gave birth to Thifa. Initially, Ndieka was involved in the child’s upbringing. He named the child Thifa after his mother and one week after Thifa’s birth, he shaved off Thifa’s hair according to the customary law of his tribe. However, after having stayed together as a family for about five months, until January 2001, Ndieka one day left for work and did not return home. After five agonizing days of waiting for Ndieka, Molije went to his place of work to look for him. When she got there, she was informed that Ndieka had proceeded on leave for two weeks and that he would proceed on transfer to Mombasa. Molije still kept visiting Ndieka’s workplace on several occasions in order to get financial assistance from him. Molije could do nothing else as she needed money for Thifa’s basic needs.
However, Molije did not succeed in her efforts to meet Ndieka as she was always told that he was absent. In April, Molije finally met Ndieka and got the opportunity to talk to him. However, at that point Ndieka told Molije that he had no intention of coming back home. Molije pleaded for him to at least help with Thifa’s basic needs such as food and clothing, but Ndieka declined. He even said that there is no law in Kenya which imposes on him any responsibilities over the child. Molije was forced to move from their matrimonial home and had to live with different friends and relatives. She relied on manual jobs like washing clothes for people but the money was not enough to meet the basic needs for neither herself nor the child. For several days they went without food. Thifa developed health problems for which Molije could not afford to pay treatment nor medication. On the 14th of august 2001, Molije sought help from CRADLE.
( --------’. Adopted from this is News Network/WFS Feature (paternal obligation to child: Kenyan perspective)
These children born out of the wedlock are praised by men in the name of leaving at least one trace or a mark in their own village, maybe a future political tool. Failure to reciprocate their actions remains a roadblock to the development of the society.
‘In Kenya, children born out of wedlock may never get to know their fathers’. These children become so disadvantaged as compared to those whose parents live under the same roof. In Rumwe it is ‘survival for the fittest’. These crises are shared all over the world but more in developing countries. For every five children, only one or none is born in marriage. The population is exposed to the risks of contracting HIV/AIDS and this in advance means that sexual activities are at random and people don’t use protection such as condoms. It also means that people don’t make any plans for children despite the existing economic situations. In the current situation humanity is a vital factor that societies should start practicing such as brother and sister’s keeper. Also the young people should develop social responsibility principles in order to cut off the cycle of such children. Volunteer parental care is rare. There are constitutional children acts which are continually ‘not always adhered to in Kenya and discrimination does exist’. One group that is being discriminated against today is the increasing number of children born out of wedlock.
-It’s His Will- by Titus Mutuma Mbaabu/Undergraduate student/University of Nairobi-Kenya/Bachelor of Arts–Sociologyfirstname.lastname@example.org/+254723980893
Discrimination is an aspect that is affecting children born out of wed-lock around the world especially in the developing countries. These children are perceived as illegitimate in marriage. My article indentifies the real life faced by these children and explains some of the reasons leading to increased numbers of children born out of the wedlock through real examples. Illiteracy, poverty, traditions and lessened ethics are some of the factors that attribute to increasing number of children born out of wedlock. It’s his will is specifically haunting men who bear children before marriage but eventually reject and abandon their shared responsibilities with the mother. There will is to just test ----
The poem; in birth certificate: Matumus wants to know his father. He is afraid to ask his mother. Even according to the Rumwe village morals and ethics males are not supposed to discuss such issues with there mothers. Matumus ends up searching for the truth from the birth certificate issued at Sheria House (Government offices) after her deceased mother. In the birth certificate he finds his mother’s name (abbr. L. K. M) and a blank space on his father’s name. He later forgives his father, ‘We are all human’.