"Outsiders"

“Inheritance plays a central role for children to see a fatherly figure in the house and also for the mother to be respected in the community, because people look down at a woman who doesn’t have a husband.”

-The older women would bravely try to enlighten me whenever I asked questions regarding wife inheritance. Women were treated as second class citizens. When a husband died the brother had to inherit her and her children.


I’ve always been an outsider. Not just because I was born out of wedlock or that I am both left handed and left footed which was considered a taboo and perceived to be in the league with the devil, but because even at a young age my opinions regarding my Tribal laws didn’t align with the rest. Girls my age were never excited about education but rather centred their lives around men, finding rich husbands, who is dating who, which guy is more handsome, having kids, the number of cows as dowry - as if marriage is a career. I’m not against relationships but I think that the majority of people make it the centre of everything. Girls dropped out of school, some getting married to men old enough to be their grandfathers, owned like properties, their job reduced to the art of submission working in the kitchen and opening their legs wide enough to pop out kids like rats. Denying themselves an opportunity to be independent, eradicate poverty or at Least have an open mind enough to get rid of some societal indoctrination.


I’m an ambivert and people found it odd since my family members are quite chatty. There was a time when some of my family members would bribe some village girls to talk to me. They didn’t understand that I wasn’t lonely but rather chose solitude as a way of distancing myself from the general mindset at large. That went on until my last year in high school, right before joining college when I decided to make some quality friendships with like minded individuals, that have lasted all these years.


Photo: Beryl Ohas

I happen to be very outspoken, I don’t tolerate people pleasing tendencies and the majority can’t stomach that.

"You must greet your elders whenever you see them and address them appropriately," "do not talk back at them," they'd say.

"Why should I do that, I don’t know them, what if I get kidnapped? And if they crave greetings so much then why don’t they greet me first," I’d respond.


Most of those who were older had ill intentions. They didn’t care about the greeting, they wanted to judge people's moral upbringing, a topic to stir up gossip. They had a lot to say about me already anyway,“she’s too skinny it might be aids... She thinks being overly educated will get her a husband... That mouth of hers will never get her anywhere…”


Kenya has over 40 ethnic tribes, each with their own language and culturural laws. Luo (my tribe) and Kikuyu always being the in the forefront as the Youba and Igbo in Nigeria. The two tribes never see eye to eye, constantly fighting on who’s more superior than the other. Tribalism is a major issue in Kenya, especially towards older generations and has resulted in a lack of progress in the country. Some tribes get along and can support marriage between the two tribes but some don’t. Younger generations have at least tried to break those barriers especially in the capital city where you’ll find all ethnic groups living as neighbours, working or learning in the same institutions.


Moving to European countries is a different experience. From kids openly talking back at their parents, to relationships between friends, to how quiet it is and mannerisms, it’s all different. It can be that big a challenge.