The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: My Proposals On the New Marriage Bill

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Last week, the Cabinet approved a new Bill to regulate marriage. This Bill, if media reports are to be believed, proposes that once two people have been living together for more than six months, they can be considered to be married whether they have gone through the legal process or not.

This applies, of course, to two adults who are seen to be living as man and wife. As an addendum, it proposes that paying dowry is not a requirement to make a marriage legal.

Wife inheritance has also been outlawed. These proposals seem to be putting Kenya on the path to being a forward-thinking and totally awesome country as they offer legal protection to both men and women and children that may come from unions that have not been formalised.

There have already been some bitter complaints especially from menfolk who seem to be the biggest losers in this proposed legal dispensation.

Guys who have been living in the 'come-we-stay' unions have been calling the Classic 105 breakfast show to complain bitterly about the new legislation.

Their argument is that they need to know their partners before they reward them by taking them down the aisle at a later undetermined date.

But I think MPs need to do some amendments so that when the Bill finally becomes law, everyone will equally happy or unhappy. Here are some of my revolutionary proposals:

Getting in: Courtship

There is no way on God's green earth that a man wakes up one morning to find next to him a woman with a huge stocking wrapped on her head, or a woman wakes up to find a man with a pot belly that could give Slimpossible trainers a heart attack.

Before there is marriage, there is usually courtship, however short or long it may be. The Bill should also regulate this vital precursor to a wedding to make the process as equitable as possible in the eyes of the law.

First, a date shall be defined as the time when the two parties did something together exclusively. Talking to someone on the street or having a drink in the same pub when mutual friends were meeting shall not be considered a date.

Conjugal relations shall not be deemed to be necessary during the courtship period as there are morality issues involved in our conservative state.

A mandatory HIV/Aids test shall be administered under the scrutiny of both parties, should they decide to ignore the "no sex before marriage" purists.

Contraceptives must be used at least a month into the dalliance before the partners decide they are too lazy to look for them on a lazy Saturday morning when they run out.

A courtship shall be deemed to be so when the two parties decide that they are not seeing any other people and will be moving their union to the next level.

Getting out: Divorce

Once a couple gets into the marriage, it shall be governed by the typical marriage laws which are usually "for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, till death do us part."

This means that once one is married, they shall stay married until one person stops breathing for good. Wearing a stocking on the head and an unseemly T-shirt with the words 'Ngombe barbed wire' emblazoned on it shall be tolerated.

The same applies to a man's obsession with Arsenal or Gor Mahia despite their failing to clinch the football trophies they so desire year after year.

Ending a marriage, however, shall be highly regulated. Where there is physical violence, the court shall allow a fair ending to the union. Other reasons for ending the union will be failing to put in the same effort one put during the beginning of the relationship.

So, when one party in the marriage decides that he or she can go out night after night without worrying about the other partner's happiness the latter should have a valid grievance.

If a person keeps their end of the bargain and goes home dutifully after work, then the partner should be pleasant and avoid reminding them of their lack of the latest car or biggest house like others in his group from college.

Venue review

Heritage Grill, Moi Avenue

There is a little pub that I used to love patronising many years ago called Hunters Grill. The last time I went there was during the post-election crisis in 2008.

The pub, on Moi Avenue, was convenient for public transport and had a decent crowd, not to mention good food that kept me coming back weekend after weekend.

I was recently informed that the pub had undergone an extreme makeover so I decided to go and see what was on offer at the place. I found that there was a new name, Heritage Grill, on a funky new sign.

Strolling in, I noted that it was still as disability unfriendly as ever as one had to go up a flight of steps to get there. If you are on a wheelchair, this is not the place for you.

This new Heritage Grill looks wonderful. To the left of the entrance there was a young woman with tickets which I couldn't for the life of me understand they were for, although she allowed me to enter.

There was also a glass cabinet with some snacks for those who might feel peckish. There was a counter to the left, a few high chairs and some friendly-looking bar staff.

To the right were some tables with chairs. There were a few TVs showing football as soft Rhumba music filtered across the place.

The best part of the place was the long balcony area overlooking Moi Avenue.

Here, I could look down at the street and watch the goings on as people scurried about escaping the rain. I had a seat there and asked for a cold Tusker and the Sh200 price had me reeling.

Whoever came up with the idea that this is the new price of my favourite lager in Downtown Nairobi needs to be arrested as this is too high.

The crowd here was of the slightly older lot, perhaps because of the crazy price of booze, with a healthy mix of both ladies and gents. The washrooms were impeccable which is an exception as downtown is not famous for this. Emergency exits were not clearly marked out so this is one place I don't want to be caught in should a disaster strike.

A quick recap of the venue;

Good:

Great decor, convenient location, excellent service, clean washrooms, sports enthusiasts can get their fill.

Bad

No disability access, no emergency exits, pricey.

My verdict

It's a good place to hang out after a gruelling day if you are not disabled. It also seems very popular with couples.

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