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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Relationship trends: Kenya experience
As part of a series on relationship trends in Africa, two single Kenyan city-dwellers told the BBC's Michael Kaloki their views on marriage and how other people consider their status.

Read their views below and then click on the link at the end of the page to have your say.

Jacinta Ndichu, 32, administrator in Nairobi

Jacinta Ndichu
Since turning 30, Jacinta has felt ready to wed

When I was in my 20s I felt that I did not want to get married. I felt that there were things I needed to achieve first, such as my studies.

Of course I also did not meet the right man.

I have friends who are 42 who are still waiting to get married. They are also still searching to meet the right man perhaps.

Part of the reason they find themselves lingering is because of the pressures to improve your economic situation. People's expectations have also changed now.

Certain status

In our mothers age they got married to be seen as a married person and hence attain a certain status.

Adamu Musah

We have less regard for this kind of status. We are more comfortable with being single.

I have also been very fortunate not to have any pressure. I have had friends who have been put under immense pressure by their relatives to get married and you see them really carrying the weight of the burden, wanting to transform the relationships that they have into marriage-type relationships, even when they do not want this.

I do not think this is really fair. In this case I have been lucky! Even now at 32, I have not had any pressure from my parents or my grandparents.


Today's woman has also become more independent than our mothers were. There is satisfaction and self-assurance that makes women think that as much as they feel lonely and want to be with men, they want to maintain that independence.

There is a bit of comfort in that - some people do not want to give up that independence.

Since I turned 30 I was surprised to suddenly realise that I was ready to get married.

I wondered how I came to realise that I was ready.

I think it was because I met someone who I was willing to live with. I spoke about it to him, but he was not yet ready to get married.

James Opere, 30, actor in Nairobi

James Opere
James sees co-habiting as a short cut in today's fast paced life

These days you find that it takes us guys some time before we settle. It comes down to the issue of acquiring basic needs first - acquiring financial status.

During the early 70s and 80s, people were getting married in their teens but now people go as far as 30-years-old before marrying. Marriage in the past was a communal thing.

The family and the extended family had a hand in marriage - the community gave support and helped pay dowry.

Nowadays the community has withdrawn its hand.

Now it is you who has to take care of everything, you are on your own.

I believe that marriage is an institution, and God-given. So for now, it is me and my God. Maybe one day things will be better and I will be settled and get married.

Short cuts

I think cohabiting is OK. Sometimes it's a result of seeking support, or it can also be because of loneliness.

Janet Maluwa

But there is a risk involved.

If one of the partners has an inferiority complex, the other tends to take advantage.

Marriage takes time and in today's world, life is very fast and people are very busy, and so cohabitation is a short cut.

Here in Kenya, marriages, as we know it in the traditional way, do not happen that much nowadays.

Most of my friends, who are also artists, tend to take short cuts - if they meet one of the foreign women, holidaying in our country, they tend to get married.

But this is more for financial support as it means they can go overseas and become citizens and live large.

What you think about the personal stories and trends featured in this series on relationship trends in Africa?

Relationship trends: Your views
17 Jul 06 |  Have Your Say

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