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Married to my cousin? Oh God
By Adoh Steve | Updated Aug 12, 2016 at 12:24 EAT

“Don’t ever set your foot in my compound!” Boomed my dad’s voice. I was too unconscious and weak to hear the other words that he said. That was after going through an unimaginable rain of blows and kicks that left me feeling like I had gone through a car crash! But what had transpired within the past ten minutes was like going through hell. I had received a beating of my life, sadly though for a mistake I did not know I committed!

My beautiful wife, Clara, had sensed the tension and left with our two son’s way before things got out hand. I did not know whether to follow her and try to explain to her that I did not know we were related or to remain and convince my adamant father that Clara and I did not know we were cousins when we were marrying! Ignorance is no defense. Let me take you back to a couple of years ago when Clara and I met in Nairobi.

We were smitten. Love-struck we at first site and both of us confessed that we felt a connection between us, there was a chemistry that we could not explain. Being young and quite eager to have a future together, we decided to move in together after dating for three months. She always wanted to meet my parents but being a Jua kali man, funding our transport fare to Luo land was something that I had to prepare well for. Being a married man, I had to wake up early to fend for my wife, I could get a meal on our table but the money to take us upcountry was proving to be quite an uphill task.

Life in the ghetto majorly is come-we-stay- marriage. I sometimes think that is why Clara and I and never bothered to know much about each other. I also did not want to tell her much about my family because I come from a family that our relatives do not see each other eye to eye. All my father’s brothers, we were often told when we were young, had moved and settled in other parts of the country; never to return. My siblings grew up knowing we had relatives but we hardly knew anything about them, apart from their childhood photos there was nothing much to show of our uncles. Technically, I had no relatives.

I wanted to meet my wife’s side of the family when I had something in my pockets. After having two sons together, one festive season I decided I had enough cash to take my family and me to Luo Nyanza. I made calls and people were ready to receive Otieno and his family. As our custom dictates all my relatives were there to receive me. Our reception was so cold, once everybody set their eyes on Clara. “Isn’t that Adipo’s elder daughter, Akeyo?” I thought heard murmurs between gasps of disbelief! “Yeah, she is Akeyo. And she has accompanied her cousin as he brings his wife home!” asserted my veteran father, to quell the murmurs that were now turning to uproar! “Welcome home, son!” my father warmly welcomed me, “welcome too, Akeyo. I hope my brother is fine, though it’s been long before I last communicated to him.” “Now Otieno, where is your wife?” gently asked my mother.

That was a bombshell to me! The look of disbelief in my wife’s (now my cousin) could not be hidden, she was now shedding tears, and without saying a word she hastily walked away with our two sons. “This lady that you are saying is my cousin is my wife. And the uncle you are saying is Apiyo, I do not know him neither have I ever met him. Or have we? Dad? mom?” The ululation that followed was inexplicable! “What! This is incest!” I was so confused and needed explanations! I remember seeing my father flying in the air and landing on me with blows. What followed is inexplicable. I decided to follow my wife and explain to her that I did not know what my parents and the crazy villagers were talking about.

On my way to Kibera, I kept wondering how many people out there marry their cousins unknowingly. Is it us to blame or our parents for not connecting us with our relatives? In such a time when everyone is talking about sex between cousins which the Kenyan law proved is not illegal; though our marriage was out of ignorance, but with the Kenyan law now supporting it. Can I sue my parents for dismissing my legal marriage? Consciously I know it is incest. What will happen to our kids?

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