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Why you might pay less to marry a Meru woman

By Vincent Kejitan | October 4th 2019

The other day I accompanied my friend to a dowry-payment ceremony and I could not help but sympathise with his situation.

Dressed in a fitting ‘kitenge’ and well-tailored trousers, he looked the part but deep inside he was balancing books.

For a while, many men have complained about bride price and the pain that comes with parting with thousands or even millions before the actual wedding.

This week, the Supreme Council of Meru Elders (Njuri Ncheke) announced plans to regulate the absurdly high dowries demanded by in-laws.

The elders said that the huge figures quoted by some families were putting off young men who want to marry.

Speaking during a meeting to discuss the implementation of a county policy on sexual and gender-based violence, Njuri Ncheke Secretary General Josphat Murangiri hit out at parents who use the ceremony to ‘extort’ the groom to be.

“Dowry should never be the basis to prevent young men and women from getting lifetime partners.

"I got a case where a young man was asked to pay Sh1, 000,000 for him to wed. Such huge prices are unfavourable to orphaned young men and those from poor families," he said.

The elders now want to come up with a policy that will clearly state what traditional dowry rates translate to in modern terms.

“If the family of the bride has demanded 10 cows, we will stipulate how much one cow is worth rather than leave that interpretation to the parties in the marriage,” added Murangiri.

He also took issue with the fact that parents (in Meru) have been asking for expensive suits and shoes contrary to the Meru culture.

However, the elders clarified that the customary laws will only apply to Meru people and anyone who wants to pay more can go ahead and do so.

His sentiments were echoed by Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi who said the exorbitant figures are discouraging men who are unstable financially.

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