Why do women take off? [Photo: Shutterstock]

By now, you must have heard that local gospel artiste Eunice Njeri’s marriage to fellow artiste Ado Bukasa only lasted a few hours. The news read like a script for a soap opera than a real-life story, after Eunice made it public that she had left her husband in America on their wedding day on November 27, 2016. She claimed that her heart was elsewhere, “maybe in Africa.”

 Pastor Jackson King’ori who officiated the now-annulled marriage ceremony confirmed that Eunice did not sign the marriage certificate, which was to be returned to the registrar for it to be official. But Eunice ran away with it hours after their wedding.

Eunice, who got online forums on fire after her revelations, is not the first to develop cold feet in high heels. But why do women become runaway brides? One even got police searching for her after she went missing. American bride Jennifer Wilbanks lied that she had been abducted before her wedding day in 2005.

“I was running away because that’s what I’ve always done,” she said, adding that it was “not pressure from the wedding,” but one that was “internally” generated. The Nairobian went out to find answers to the nagging question, ‘Why do women take off before their big day?’ Below are some of our findings:

Forced marriages: I was 12, the hubby 50

While Jennifer and Eunice’s reasons to run away are not so clear, some women like Amina Ahmed from Garissa have no option but to take to the hills. Amina was forcefully married at the age of 12. But if she was to realise her dream of going to school, the only option open for her was to bolt. The husband was 50 years, recalls the now 17 years old girl who was living with her mother after her parents separated.

Read Also: Newly-wed bride jumps off balcony to 'join' husband who killed himself after wedding

“When my father told me of the plans to marry me off, I begged him to wait until I completed my studies, but he refused.” When she realised that she was fighting a losing battle, she decided to play along as she plotted an escape on the wedding day. “I let the party happen and decided to run away from the man’s house at midnight. I ran back to my mother’s house, where social workers rescued me.  My father had to surrender the bride price which had already been paid,” she revealed.

Irreconcilable differences, borrowed dress

Cynthia Moraa abandoned her man whom he had dated for two years after disagreements during the planning of their wedding, which was financed by her parents and was even featured on a local wedding show.

“Our problems began when I introduced him to my family. I didn’t appreciate his comments about them. My family can be intrusive, but he did not have to confront them on the first meeting,” Cynthia told The Nairobian, adding that it was during family visits that she began to understand just how miserable they were going to be.

“John complained bitterly, the wedding planning bored him to tears. For the first time, we started to disagree over things. He couldn’t understand why we couldn’t just elope and be done with it. As the wedding drew closer, it became clear I was making a mistake. I loved being the person I was with him, but it was like wearing a glamorous borrowed dress,” Cynthia recalls.

By the time she gathered courage to walk away, wedding cards had already been sent out. During the evening party, she excused herself and never looked back. Cynthia’s parents were so embarrassed and even though she started dating again, she doesn’t think they would approve another wedding.

Commitment phobia, childhood burdens

Irene Musa, a single mother of one, ran away from a man she had known for six years on her wedding night. Reason? She was afraid he too would abandon her just like her biological father and baby daddy did.

“Watching my father walk out on my mother when I was 10 years old was the most frightening thing I ever experienced. Its something I can never forget. My baby daddy also walked out on me on our wedding night,” recalled Irene, a lawyer who later abandoned her Dutch husband after developing cold feet on their wedding night for fear he would also leave her.

Read Also: Return to sender - Why Kenyan men are demanding bride price refunds

She wanted to be the one leaving as she was scared of being dumped a third time. Her husband, who had invested time and money besides treating her child as his own, sued. The case is still on.

I didn’t love him that much

Jane Simaloi, a runaway bride, admitted that at her wedding ceremony, she felt “a strong desire to run away and have sex with her former boyfriend.” And that’s exactly what she did, joining a long list of women who realise they really don’t love their partners on their wedding day.