Kiambu MP courts controversy with polygamy agenda
| Apr 4th 2018 | 3 min read
Kiambu Woman Representative Gathoni wa Muchomba has gained the reputation of stirring controversy every time she speaks on important social issues.
Shortly after winning the 2017 elections, the former radio presenter misread the public mood and sought to revive a debate on “measly” pay for legislators, saying she wanted to be paid well.
The public anger that greeted the MP who was born and brought up in Komothai in Githunguri constituency, was palpable. She has three siblings and a step-family of 11.
Faced with crowd anger wherever she went, the second Kiambu woman rep had to swallow her words and offer an apology.
But she has once again stirred a hornet's nest.
At a public gathering in Kiambu at the weekend, she said local men should marry several wives if they could afford to sustain them.
The MP was talking about the absence of fathers in the lives of many children and how this had led to serious social problems among youths.
"We give birth to these children and we do not want to own up to them. If you are a man from the Kikuyu community and you can sustain five wives, have them, and if you are a man and you are in a position to bring up (many children), do it, she said, speaking at a violence recovery centre in Kiambaa sub-county.
Dealing with the repercussions, however, promises to be another Gathoni thriller.
While her pronouncements are likely to be supported by some men in a society where polygamy is legal, the MP who started Smart Media College in Nairobi in 2005 and Utugi TV in 2016, should brace for reactions from feminists, church leaders and the general public.
For example, Munene wa Njeru tweeted yesterday: “Gathoni wa Muchomba’s husband should marry another wife or wives besides her. Good leaders must lead by example. Walk your talk. My Take!”
Men’s beef with Gathoni in Central Kenya may not so much be about her support of polygamy but that she may have attacked a community's psyche.
She may be accused of giving opinions not based on facts - such as every sixth street child in Nairobi is Kikuyu - and drawing from her troubled family origins as the template for social reform.
Bishop Samuel Njiriri, who heads Stewards Revival Pentecostal Church headquartered on Outer Ring Road, said the MP's advice was misplaced and un-Christian, and advised her to be careful with her pronouncements because a politician would ultimately be responsible for "every word uttered - just like in Christian life".
"It is true that her sentiments may excite the menfolk and get their support but what out the womenfolk?" asked Bishop Njiriri.
But Wachira Kiago, chairman of the Kikuyu Council of Elders, said the MP had demonstrated good leadership potential and courage by raising the issue.
"Out there we have millions of helpless women whose future would be markedly better if the community embraced the idea," said Mr Kiago.
He said the MP had every right to urge her community to uphold culture and traditions that were at the core of its social fabric.
"As it were, big numbers of all other communities in Kenya are practising polygamy while the Kikuyu are stuck with monogamy," added Kiago.
Born into a polygamous family 43 years ago, the MP is said to be haunted by the experience of a father who hardly took care of his family.
She performed well in school and went to Precious Blood Riruta for her secondary school education, where a good Samaritan paid her fees.
In 1999, while still at university, she was hired by Kameme FM and years later she would be poached to work for Inooro FM.
In 2007, she stood for the Maragua parliamentary seat but lost to Elias Mbau, then a second-term MP.
Not much is known about Gathoni’s personal life - such as where between Kiambu and Murang’a she regards as her real home. What is known is that some of her family live in Mowlem village, Maragua constituency.
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