The family is the basic unit of society. From it stem all other social relationships all the way to nationhood. Strong families make strong societies and strong nations. The converse is true. Any existential threat to a nation starts by the destruction of familial ties.
Nazi dictator Hitler proved it through the destruction of Jewish families during the Holocaust. War-torn nations like Congo continue to be restive after the decimation of entire families.
Latter-day threats to the family are no longer under pain of death. The means has changed. The methods may even be socially acceptable but they are no less insidious nor are they less potent. If anything, they have the potential of annihilating an entire society with the same effect as a nuclear weapon.
Kenya is presently under such a threat. Traditional family values have been eroded by permissiveness, debauchery, and the abdication of responsibility over families. This downward spiral has been gradual, beginning with seemingly innocuous banter on radio laced with sexual overtones, then respectable magazines with semi-nude figures at the centre-fold. Now there are no holds barred with national TVs airing prime time programmes that would have been considered risqué just a few short years ago.
The results have been instantaneous. Talk of teenage sex no longer shocks. Licentious living does not offend the sensibilities of citizens anymore. Adulterous relationships are commonplace and “till death do us part” marriages are increasingly being considered unattainable. Divorce is now the order of the day.
But how have we gotten here? One might blame this alarming decline in our moral rectitude to the abandonment of our mores and conventions as Kenyans. When Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha suggested abstinence as a solution to sexual health challenges, many Kenyans found it risible. Yet this is what kept the society of old on the straight and narrow.
Yet this is what preserves societies like Turkey where public discussions of a prurient nature are frowned on and sexual expression reserved for institutions like marriage.
Some have argued that polygamy is a traditional African value and that it is acceptable for a man to have several liaisons of a sexual nature.
They are mistaken. Adulterous relationships cannot be sanitised by terming them polygamy. Latter-day advocates conveniently forget that traditionally, polygamy was an upper-class custom and only permitted for the well-to-do who could afford to look after large families.
Contrast that with every hovel-dweller who wishes to have multiple sexual relationships without the ability to look after the issues that result. Or the quintessential playboy who sows his wild oats left, right and centre and yet fails to take responsibility. That is not what polygamy intended. If anything, it was an archaic safety-net for society’s widows and orphans and certainly not an institution to satiate lust!
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Lately, news pages have been replete with the escapades of musician Samidoh and his paramour Senator Karen Nyamu. Let us learn to call it as it is. Samidoh is a married man. His relationship with the senator is therefore adulterous! It should not be newsworthy.
Vice should not be elevated to an art form. Samidoh cannot and should not be celebrated for being caught in flagrante. The senator should be censured for conduct unbecoming and for bringing the august House to disrepute!
But it is in a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Kenya that the Rubicon has been crossed. Homosexual relationships are expressly forbidden by Kenyan law. However, the apex court now says the LGBTQ+ community now have right of association.
This ruling paves way for the community to register a non-governmental organization. The Evangelical Alliance of Kenya has termed it “despicable, sinful, immoral and against acceptable Kenyan culture and natural order.”
We have indeed plumbed the depths of depravity when what was previously regarded as repugnant is now ratified by the highest court in the land. Ripping the fabric of society is now par for the course!
Mr Khafafa is a Public policy Analyst