By David Odongo
NAIROBI, KENYA: When Hannah Mwenje caught her husband and mother in her marital bed one morning, her tears sent the nation reeling in shock, especially because she was forced to endure the indignity of watching them.
“It was a Sunday. I went to church with my two children. My husband was still sleeping when I left.
During the church service, my baby became restless so I decided to leave before the service was over because he was making so much noise and disrupting the service.
“I got home and I found the door open. I could hear voices from the bedroom,” she says, pausing to describe their two-room house in Pipeline, Embakasi. “My husband heard me walk in and came out of the bedroom naked. He dragged me into the bedroom and I found my mother naked in bed. I was dazed…” Mwenje recalls.
She says the two went ahead and finished their ‘business’ as she stood shell-shocked looking at them.
“When they finished, my mother told me that a man like my husband didn’t deserve a woman like me. She then dressed and gave my one-year-old son five shillings to go buy sweets. They left with my husband as I collapsed on the floor,” says Mwenje.
Mwenje decided to kill herself but she didn’t have the energy to stand up. She stayed on the floor for hours before she sent her older son, three years old, to call a neighbour.
“She came and helped me stand up. I had no strength. She took me to her house and took care of my children,” says Mwenje.
Her husband, who is a plumber, and her mother didn’t come back that night.
“I didn’t see them for two days. On Wednesday the following week, I went for kibarua with my children and when I came back in the evening, the house had been swept clean. Everything was gone, including my children’s clothes,” she says. It has been a month since her husband and mother eloped, leaving her destitute. But the born again woman says she has forgiven them.
“I can’t accept him back knowing that he slept with my mother, in my presence, but I have forgiven him too, and I bear no ill will towards both of them,” she says. Mwenje says her relationship with her mother hasn’t always been smooth. She was born in Naivasha and she has never known her father.
“I had to drop out of school after primary school because my mother couldn’t afford to take me to high school. She was a perpetual drunk,” Mwenje says. She sought employment and it was while working as a waitress in a Mombasa hotel that she met her husband. “I just know he is from Western Kenya. He never took me to meet his parents,” says Mwenje.
They got married and moved to Nairobi. It was then that her mother started visiting her frequently.
“She could come every few weeks, but I got suspicious when she would always go out to drink with my husband,” says Mwenje who neither drinks nor smokes.
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She confronted her husband over the issue of drinking with her mum but the man was adamant, saying a man has to take care of his mother-in-law and that he would not stop buying her alcohol. Thinking in retrospect, Mwenje, who spoke to this writer and whose contacts we have, says women should never to agree to move in with a man before knowing his parents.
“Had my dowry been paid, I would have known my husband’s village and his parents and siblings. I now don’t know anything about him, and I can’t reach him on his phone. I also can’t reach my mother,” she says.
Now a single mother with no source of income, she prays for well wishers to help her secure a job as well as counseling for her two children who witnessed their father and grandmother having sex. Mwenje’s case is not new. Late last year, Ghetto Radio reported that a woman in Makongeni Estate has been thrown into a state of shock following revelation that her 32-year-old husband has been having sex with his mother. The woman also suspects that her husband has been sleeping with his sister, too.
And in May 2012, a hacker exposed phone messages bristling with decadence that had been sent to radio presenter Maina Kageni. Incest, for some Kenyans, is no longer taboo.
One of the texts read, “Hi, Maina call me if you find time. I walked into my house only to find my husband having sex with his younger sister. Akaniuliza (he asked me) ‘haven’t you heard of privacy?’ I’m confused. Good day” Another user texted in saying: “I am in love with my father-in- law. I am 26 year and he is 57 years (sic).
I love him more than I love my husband. We have been sleeping together since my first year in marriage. He is well endowed,” she added for good measure. Another wrote: “My situation is worse because I allowed my mum’s boyfriend to seduce me and I eventually slept with him. I later realised he is HIV positive and I do regret…” Not shockingly, cases of older women snatching husbands from their daughters are hardly reported due to embarrassment and stigma. Experts say such deviant behaviour is among many modern ills placing the traditional family unit is at risk.