Confessions of a married woman: I love my cousin more than my husband
In 2016, Peter Oloo* met a girl in a club and was instantly drawn to her.
“I looked at her, our eyes locked and I felt so drawn to her, nikama damu yetu imekubali. I asked her to join my table and after making merry, we went to my house where we spent the night together,” recalls Oloo.
He reveals he had never felt such a connection to a woman before.
“Our conversation was smooth, we finished each other’s sentences, and she felt so comfortable in my presence, as I did in hers.”
They spent the weekend together eating, sleeping and watching movies until Sunday evening when the girl had to go back to her parents’ house.
“She told me her dad died when she was young, and she lived together with her mother and big brother in Shauri Moyo. Later that night, as we were speaking on the phone, I casually asked her where her village was. She didn’t know so she asked her mother.”
My girl's mother was the wife to my father’s oldest brother
Oloo says upon hearing the reply, he was intrigued, because he also came from the same village. He asked more questions until he realised they might come from the same clan.
“At that point, I asked her to give her mother the phone so that I could ask since she didn’t know so much about her clan. Shock on me. I realised her mother was the wife to my father’s oldest brother. He died more than 20 years ago, and after the funeral, his wife left and cut contact with everyone in the family. Nobody knew where the family went. So I had just spent a whole weekend sleeping with my cousin,” says Oloo.
This is not an isolated incident. Four years ago, a 23-year-old man and 17-year-old girl, cousins who live in the same compound in Embu West Sub County, attempted to elope so that they could get married. Attempts by the family, villagers and elders to get them to end the relationship didn’t work. The relationship between the fathers, who are brothers, has been strained following the discovery.
The relationship had lasted more than six months, according to the girl’s father. He said his daughter had been sneaking into the cousin’s house and spending the night together. The villagers stormed the man’s hut attempting to separate the two, but failed.
Let the children know their relatives
Incest, even though many don’t believe, is the new norm, especially amongst the youth. According to Kikuyu elder, David Mureithi, whether knowingly or by chance, urbanisation has led the increase in incest cases.
“Traditionally, the family unit was a tightly knit affair. Everyone knew each other. There is a reason why anyone who wanted to marry never just picked a girl by the roadside and brought her home. Aunties were involved, bloodlines were established, and upon confirmation that the bride or groom came from a good family, and there was no blood relationship, then go ahead for marriage was given,” he says.
Mzee Mureithi warns that modern parents should ensure that their children know their relatives, since, one day, a son and a daughter from the same parents will end up marrying each other.
From court cases The Nairobian went through, the basic three reasons for a rise in incest case are, lack of adequate housing to the extent that different and related genders are basically sharing a bed. In addition, most family are no longer tightly knit, so cousins don’t recognise each other as “close relatives”and finally, plain old lust.
Kim, a city based electrician admits he has been sleeping with his cousins for years.
“It’s not a new thing. I have several friends who privately admit they fancy their cousins and some go ahead and initiate intercourse,” he told this writer.
He says he has had an affair with two cousins, one is married and the other is divorced.
“I take care of them, but we can’t just have children because everyone will frown upon that. My family members don’t know and I wouldn’t want my wife to know,” he said.
My cousin loves me more; he can do anything for me
Kimani is not the only one. Elizabeth* is a married mother of four. She has been happily married for the past 14 years. She says the sex life with her husband is great but she also bears on ugly and dark secret. She has been for the past seven years sleeping with her first cousin.
“No one can suspect anything. His wife loves me; she comes complaining to me about my cousin’s faults. There is a time she left him and I am the one who convinced her to come back. I saved his marriage.
“My husband knows my cousin is my best friend. We even meet as a couple and go on joint dates. My cousin comes over to my house with his family and we spend the entire weekend together. We go for joint holidays,” she says.
According to Elizabeth, their affair is pure love, which can cannot thrive because of moral standards.
“I am sure the man loves me more than my husband loves me. He can do anything for me and I can do the same for him.”
She says they met as adults, each married with a family and they immediately hit off.
“As kids, our parents were not close, so when we grew older, we sought out each other and we became best friends, and lovers” she adds.
No African community tolerated incest
In traditional Africa, incestuous relationships were severely punished, with the lovebirds getting banished from the community. Incest occurred through rape or mutual consent and in some circumstances, enraged relatives would demand the killing of a child born out of such relationships.
Researcher Gwanda Ogot says that to break the relationship of the product of incest from the parents, the common rule was to banish them from society. The punishment, however, varied from one community to the other.
“No African community tolerated incest. In Bukusu culture, children born out of incest were taboo babies, they were referred to as “bi luswa” and the community feared such children are cursed and they will either suffer mental problems or be infertile.
Pastor Murigi Kariuki of Calvary Chapel says: “We raise our children as prisoners in our homes and when their hormones start raging, they end up having a fling with people close to them, many times, people who are blood relatives.”
He gives the example of two cousins who met in university, fell in love and refused to end the relationship despite efforts by the church and their family.
“They said they loved each other and today, they are married with two children,” says Kariuki.
Children follow Online trends: Psychologist
Psychologist Karen Kimani says adolescents’ minds are still very feeble and can be easily convinced by factors around their lives, especially the internet.
“At least 60 per cent of the internet consists of adult entertainment, and it is easily available. These children will at one time or another, try to do those things they see online, and they will do it with the people close to them, their relatives. Living in the city means there isn’t enough space for everybody and a family has to share a bedroom or even bathrooms,” says Kimani.
Kimani, however, says she doesn’t have the exact statics on incestuous relations, but she has met ‘more than enough’ patients who confess to incest.
The Nairobian carried an in-depth investigative piece on a popular politician from western Kenyan who has slept with nearly every female member of his family.
While on campus, he coaxed and had intercourse with his sister’s class eight daughter. He even slept with his younger brother’s wife. He later slept with and impregnated his older brother’s wife, and when the baby turned 13 years, he also slept with her.
“In the case of the politician, that’s a sick man who needs help. Normal people don’t behave like that,” says Kimani.
Bring back old customs: Bishop
Bishop Thomas Wahome adds that sleeping with relatives is a social issue and the moral depravity evidenced in Kenya is because old customs and traditions that kept the society glued together, has been eroded by modernisation.
“Traditionally, our forefathers had measures in place to ensure you don’t end up marrying your cousin, or a man doesn’t end up with the wrong woman for marriage. As we advanced, we have actually forgotten and neglected some of these African teachings terming them as retrogressive, but they all had a meaning and a purpose. Biblically, there is no space for intermarriage within the same family in religion,” says Bishop Wahome.
Incest linked to genetic disorders
and Dr Amos Mongony, a medic based in Hurlingham, says it’s universally accepted after years of research that marriages within the same family increases the risk of children being born with deformities or genetic disorders.
“Incest, if it leads to procreation, might also come with disorders. I remember reading a research conducted in Pakistan, where such marriages thrive, more than 30 percent of deformities and abnormalities were from people who married within the family,” he said.