So when Mzee and I got married my family went through a huge debate/fight/dilema about whether or not mzee should have to pay dowry. Interestingly my mom was adamantly for the idea and my dad was adamantly opposed.
We managed to dodge the bullet at the time by deffering the issue. At the ngurario my parents basically made the statement that the would overlook the issue at the moment since we were both young graduate students but they wanted us to know that dowry is an important part of the culture and should we ever feel compelled, we should bring some…..
Fast forward four years and now we’re expecting our first little guy. Should we make a move on paying some dowry?
The issue only recently came up when my class was discussing the impact of culture on African women’s emporwerment and I shared my story. I can’t stop thinking about it since then though….
On one hand I think culture is important and some of these traditional practices have their value. And truth be told, I’m also a little supersticious that something bad might happen to me if we don’t handy up…
On the other hand, what statement about women as partriarchal property will I be contributing to by participating in the process? Paying dowry just feels so wrong to my deeply feminist sensibility. Like mzee and my dad are trading me.
I’m also thinking a lot about the issue because a close friend just died last week and I’ve been sensitive to the way that his Kenyan family is letting his American wife make the decisions. I’m really impressed by their decision to stand by his wife and the choices she is making even though they are not their first preference.
Its made me wonder though, how my family would treat mzee if I passed on without the dowry issue resolved. Would they stand aside and let him make the decisions or would they pull the traditional Kenyan “the woman wasn’t yours so you can’t burry her’ crap that is so common?
So, what do you think? Should I encourage Mzee to take home dowry to the folks?