In the first week of the year, the most talked-about topic was DNA collection kits. Men were happy about it but women were calling on the government to intervene to avoid breakage of families. A friend contributed to the topic by saying it is funny men are considered by society to be careless for having a lot of “outgrowers” out there but when it comes to DNA testing, it is the women who are worried the most about the results.

This has been a thorny issue and I remember in my youth, when men got children, they would usually want to compare and there was a joke that even if the kid is not yours, you would be told the nose resembled one of your uncles. 

I remember one morning when I was going to a neighbourhood gym I used to frequent, there was commotion as a husband and a wife had disagreements and people gathered around to witness. The man ordered the wife to leave his house. The wife packed and came out with her three kids. The husband told her to leave the kids behind, but she held the hands of two kids and told the man that the two were not his; only the one she was leaving behind was his. The man was so shocked and had no energy to even stand up.

We have many similar examples out there. The question is: Should men insist on DNA or should they be like our older generation grandparents who considered a child to belong to the society? It was rare for one to hear the term stepfather; it was assumed all kids belonged to the man of the house. There was no discrimination; it was all a good family.

On the same topic, one Viscount K’ Owuor wrote: “I’m a true Luo, and I’m not allowed by tradition to use DNA to ascertain the paternity of my kids. Luo customs encouraged having one or two children out of wedlock, just in case there was a sickness of the blood that would affect all your blood children. The one born through infidelity would be the saviour of the family.”

It follows then that when fencing your compound, you left a small opening at the back of the homestead. It was called ROT, he wrote: “Apart from being an escape route during an emergency, ROT also provided an escape opportunity for your wife’s lover. It was a taboo to catch your wife’s lover red-handed. And as the mzee, you were called upon to make some signals that you were now entering your compound: ‘Hey, who is this who failed to tether the cow properly?’ you would ask. With such a sound, in case some lothario had visited your compound, he quickly climbed through the window and off he went through ROT.”

He added: “Entering your compound without such signals was considered mischievous and was the trait of a mzee with a bad spleen - ill-tempered.”

Then he finishes by giving advice to men: “With a woman, always know she is not yours for keeps but only your turn. When dead or alive, someone else will have interest and woo her.”

My opinion is that one should decide if they want to be a father or a daddy. Birth is just a process but being a father to the kids is what is important. As long as one is in the loop of what is going on, then children should belong to the society.