Why ugly fallouts are the norm for divorce cases today

By - Apr 15th 2023

Joseph Okiki and Rosemary Ochieng exchanged wedding vows in 2014, promising each other heaven -- a good life and a bright future -- till death do them part.

However, the young couple, admired by many in their village, ended up in a hell of a marriage, and on January 20, 2022 they had a bitter divorce. What's worse is that they still had to live together in their matrimonial home, which sits on 0.26 hectares of land in Kasgunga, Suba North Sub-County, in Homa Bay County. 

The two could not see eye-to-eye despite living under the same roof.

Rosemary moved to the ground floor while Okiki stayed on the first floor in a Sh3.1 million house; they equally contributed to build.

To stoke the fire, in October 2022, Okiki filed a petition in court, arguing that he has a spinal cord disorder that makes it difficult for him to continue living on the first floor.

He demanded that the initial agreement on sharing the house be set aside and a new arrangement that considered his health condition, be adopted.

But Rosemary filed another petition, demanding the house be sold and each person be given his or her share, to which Okiki objected, arguing that the house should not be sold because it was built on his ancestral land, hence sentimental attachment.

“After hearing both parties, it emerges that the best option is to allow the applicant (Okiki) to buy out the respondent. This will translate to 50 per cent of the maisonette, with the gazebo and servants’ quarters valued separately,” said Justice Kiarie Waweru.

Rosemary and Okiki's case mirrors what goes on during many divorce cases, which the Judiciary says are on the rise with 5,694 cases filed compared to 4,740 the previous season.

Dramatic cases

Marriage expert Emily Mutheu of PaychoAfrica Solutions Limited explains that guardians, judges, children, and parents deal with dramatic cases where estranged couples tear each other apart for adultery, cruelty, money, sex, or desertion.

“It is always tough during divorce, and the people who suffer most are the innocent children, who end up depressed or overexcited,” the clinical psychologist said.

Away from the public, judges grapple with dirty bedroom secrets that leave a marriage irretrievably broken. Some even kill their spouses to take control of the property.

The accusations and counter-accusations include, “Ooh, he wasn’t good in bed; he had a small manhood; she had a wider honey pot; etc.”

Though some cases fail to reach court, a good number of divorce cases are characterised by fights for control of property, bedroom testimonies and claims of cruelty and torture.

“The more one fights for property, the more he or she becomes stressed and depressed,” Mutheu said.

The 2022 Judiciary Report states that spouses want divorces due to abuse and cruelty, violence, infidelity, lack of maintenance, desertion, change of religion, lack of conjugal rights, infertility, drug and substance abuse, and unjustified polygamy from the other partner.

“Everyone wants to remain cleaner after divorce, and they will keep fighting and blackmailing the other one,” Mutheu said.

A couple of years ago, fans told Jacob Obunga popularly known as Otile Brown, the musician behind hit songs such as Samatha, Mapenzi Hisia and Such Kind of Love, that he did not need to worry about what to wear since they understood him in a birth suit.

This was after his ex-girlfriend, Vera Sidika, told Kenyans that the man could not rise to the occasion. As a result, his fans asked him to walk to the stage naked since they already knew him without clothes.

Vera and Otile during happier days.

Sidika went ahead to explain that the man was so poor in bed that she taught him how to drill the honeypot, and he always took her money without paying it back.

“I refuse to be used financially or for fame. If such a person walks away because you didn’t give them money, it’s more like good riddance,” she wrote in the post.

In his defence, Otile explained that it was just that—a loan—that he would reimburse but was reluctant to explain his prowess in bed.

As Otile and Sidika were spicing up their breakup, Marianne Keitany put Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi on his defence, citing cruelty, neglect, infidelity, and desertion.

Keitany accused Linturi of, among other things, failing to provide her with any emotional support, love, affection, or care at the magistrate's court.

Keitany, a former Chief of Staff at the deputy president’s office, claimed that Linturi had lost family values, denied her conjugal rights, caused her mental anguish, torture, and humiliation, and had transferred his love and affection to other women.

Milimani chief magistrate Heston Nyaga dismissed a divorce case, arguing that the doctrine of common law marriage no longer applies in Kenya and that customary law marriage is not a one-event or single-ceremony matter.

Nyaga said that Linturi was in a monogamous marriage with Mercy Kaimenyi.

“The doctrine of common law marriage no longer applies in Kenya. A customary law marriage is not a one-event or single ceremony matter,” the court ruled,

“Mithika Linturi could not contract a Nandi customary marriage or any other form of marital union with Maryanne Keitany. The customary law union alluded to by Maryanne Keitany would not suffice as a marriage under the laws of Kenya."

Madina Giovanni Fazzini told the Kadhi’s Court in Mombasa that former Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho whom she got married to under Islamic law on February 11, 2011, and lived together as husband and wife, had never been back to their matrimonial home since January 2013.

“Since Mr Joho moved out of our matrimonial home, the substance of the marriage has dissipated and the union has no basis to be sustained from a legal and social standpoint,” Fazzini said, adding, “It is obvious there is no hope or possibility of reconciliation or compromise of whatsoever nature or kind between myself and the respondent.”

Joho signed a consent with Madina Giovanni Fazzini to end their marriage after nine years of separation when he appeared before the Mombasa Chief Kadhis court.

Airing dirty linen

Airing each other's dirty linen in public is not unique to divorcing couples.

Mugithi star Samido’s wife, Edday Nderitu, who has become a philosopher of sorts, going by her rants on social media, recently described the last three years of her 15-year marriage as nothing but pain. The reason being her husband's links with Nominated Senator Karen Nyamu.

“For the last 3 years, it has been nothing but pain; I have remained faithful to you regardless of disrespect, humiliation, and being trolled on social media, you’ve made me look dumb and taken my silence for granted; I have helped you nature (sic) your talent and supported you through it all,” she wrote.

“I have said to you and I am saying it here again: I will not raise my kids in a polygamous family, especially with a woman who is older than me by more than 10 years, has no morals, and has zero respect.”

“I have helped you nurture your talent and supported you through it all, but one thing I have said to you and I am saying here again is that I will not raise my kids in a polygamy family [sic], especially with a woman who is older than me by more than 10 years and has no morals and zero respect for my family, kiura kia ngaba’ as you put it.”

Nyamu retorted that she was not the problem.

“I am very single, but of course me and him (Samidoh) have children, and one thing about him is he might not be many things, but he is a responsible dad.

“He does what he is supposed to do for the children, whether we are talking terms or not. Akijua for example, mtoto anaanza shule lazima atacontribute. Kwangu yeye huniangusha but hajawai angusha watoto (sic),” she said on Vybes Radio during an interview.

Exhume body

Another bitter divorce happened between Regina Wangui Macharia and her husband of 15 years Bishop Bernard Muthoga. Things took a dramatic turn when Wangui, a popular Kikuyu gospel artiste, exhumed the remains of her daughter, who died 12 years ago.

Bishop Muthoga and his ex wife.

The daughter had been interred at Lamuria Village in Kieni Constituency, Nyeri County, which is at the cleric’s rural home. Wangui claimed that she decided to exhume her daughter after her former in-laws started to plant crops around her daughter’s grave.

“They did not want her there. They were planting maize around the grave. The land belonged to my former mother-in-law, but at the time we buried her, we were married, and that was the only place we had to bury her,” she said.

The artiste, popularly known as Regina wa Aganiwe following her hit song Uyu Nowe Anga Tiwe, said she wanted her daughter's remains to rest in peace.

“I instructed my lawyers to go to court to get the exhumation order because I wanted to bury my daughter in a place where she could find peace,” she said.

Mutheu said that there are many reasons why people are failing to hold their marriage together, which allows the bitterness to come out strongly during a divorce.

“People get married for many reasons, and one of them is convenience (broke, no rent, pregnancy, etc.), or bowing to pressure from society, friends, or society,” Mutheu said.

She added that the fighting during divorce is a continuation of a long battle during the marriage.

“Some people are in relationships, that ended many years ago for many reasons. They are living in the same house, but they can’t get along well, and in most cases there is violence,” Mutheu said.

She added that everyone’s childhood defines the future, and their character traits during divorce, such as mental health, reciprocate the same traits during the marriage.

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