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MP wants payment of dowry using cows swapped with lesos, cooking oil

 A suitor unveils a bride covered in lesos during a Ruracio ceremony in Kericho County. [Courtesy, Facebook]

A member of parliament has initiated a conversation discouraging the payment of dowry using a herd of cattle as the norm in some communities.

Soy constituency MP David Kiplagat argues that some communities demand up to 90 cows from young men who are still trying to make ends meet.

The lawmaker says he has initiated the talks before the matter is tabled in parliament and is optimistic that it could be passed into law.

According to him, the bold move will also discourage suitors from engaging in criminal activities so as to pay the dowry.

"In place of cows, the two families can agree on some symbolic gifts like lesos, cooking oil and other gifts because marriage should not be commercialised," Kiplagat said.

The legislator argues in some areas, demand for cows as means of dowry payment is to blame for banditry thus pushing it through the parliament could cut the vice by 50 per cent.

"Discouraging dowry payment using cows will also empower young men economically. The current method used is not enough security of marriage," he said.

Marriage institutions should not be qualified on whether one paid dowry or not but customary law requires one to have a certificate which is enough to prove the union.

At the same time, Kiplagat said, if his idea is embraced, it will not give room to randy men to use women and dump.

"In some areas, young men engage in cattle rustling and raids because they have been asked for large herds of cattle yet they don't have any," he noted.

He used a recent screenshot from a certain community that claimed man must part with more than 80 herds of cows.

For girls who have been educated to the university level, the lawmaker argues that such families where such women hail from should not be used to exploit suitors.

"Girls are not supposed to be sold, even if they have two university degrees, because marriage should not be commercialised," he added.

However, Bishop Samuel Njiriri of Stewards Revival church faulted the MP saying that the Bible supports the payment of dowry and that we cannot run away from Kenyan culture.

"The problem comes when dowry payment is commercialised because human beings cannot be bought. Dowry payment is token of appreciation and attracts blessings in the long run," Njiriri explained.

The clergy said the MP's idea is farfetched because Kenyan culture is unique and every community has their way of doing things.

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