SHOULD WE KEEP ON PAYING DOWRY IN AFRICA

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Denzel Musumba

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Omondi Olunga is a very distraught man. The domestic squabbles with his wife Jenipher Atieno are getting uglier by the day and giving him sleepless nights. Omondi, a resident of Awendo town, married the love of his life, Jenipher, in 2002 when she was fresh from polytechnic. "Jenipher’s parents demanded dowry upfront as their daughter was considered learned," he says. "Being a fisherman, I could not raise the dowry of six cows as demanded." Omondi adds that his in-laws agreed to the two cows he could afford with the promise that he would clear the balance after a while. That is when the problem started. "At first my wife was considerate and loving but then things changed. She started denying me my conjugal rights feigning sickness but when it continued for a long time and I demanded an explanation, she said she wasn’t in the mood," he recalls. "I sought help from our chief and we have gone for various arbitrations but it has not worked because she refuses to divulge to the administrator what the problem is, insisting we can things over," Omondi says. The chief, who is a woman, had a long talk with Omondi’s wife and she eventually opened up, insisting that she would not agree to sex until her husband paid the entire bride price. Omondi complains that although he has been married for a number of years, he can count "My wife is a strange type," he says. "I only enjoy her favours when I have done something that makes her happy," he says with sadness.

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