Story of Old Kenyan Man Who Took Ksh7 Bride Price for Daughter

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    A file image of a bridegroom and bride
    COURTESY
  • Hussein Maro, an old man from Tana River County, will always remind me of how parents should always strive to assist their children visualise how deep their love is, especially during life changing times. 

    The old man, who is in his mid 60s, can be presumed to be those wise men whose stories were told to us as folklores when we were growing up. “Wise men once said... Wisemen this, Wisemen that...” I bet most of you quoted these phrases in your school compositions and Insha (Swahili version).

    Maro, with all the love for his daughter, rejected millions of shillings offered as bride price and requested only Ksh7 (seven)

    You read it right. Do not rub your eyes or refresh the page. Yes, seven Kenya shillings. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven... 

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    A bride in a white bridal dress attends a photoshoot just after her vows (file image)
    File

    Dowry is a controversial subject in Kenya. Marriages are broken because of dowry, weddings are called off too. Several attempts have been made to ban bride price or regulate it with many lamenting at how they have been extorted by their in-laws. 

    “I am the only daughter, and my father told me that my prospective husband will have to pay the bride price. My father paid for my brothers,” a friend of mine reacted as we were discussing this subject.

    But for Hussein Maro, the love for his daughter is immeasurable, it could stretch around the world countless times, and when the world is covered, it could stretch through the galaxy. 

    In the morning of December 2020, Maro kept his cards close to his sleeves and watched silently as his kin prepared to welcome his in-laws. 

    As families around Kenya spend millions on hiring choppers and limousines, organising expensive Ruracio’s (dowry ceremonies) for their families, Maro insisted on a brief event. 

    In another family, daughters and parents would be debating on how to handle the occasion, debate on the prewedding and the wedding. Worried about the theme and colours, the dress code for bridesmaids and the bridal shower … the list is endless. 

    But time is always of the essence to the wise men… remember.  

    "My fellow elders. I am so excited to have my daughter get married into a good family,” these were Maro’s first words as he welcomed his to be in-laws. 

    Pause for a while. “Good family,” I bet Maro stated these two words with some emphasis. In that family, he saw the virtues he always wanted his daughter to embody. The family is the test of freedom, kinship and a long-standing relationship. 

    I still wonder what Maro saw in his to be son-in-law. A young man knows the rules, but an old man knows the exceptions. 

    "Therefore, as my daughter and I agreed. we shall take seven shillings only," he politely told them.

    What a surprise. I wonder, who between the old man and the daughter, convinced the other to the agreement. This family must be a close-knit one. Was there an argument between the two before settling on the Ksh7 bride price? I do not imagine so. 

    There was a long awkward pause between the two families following Maro’s request. The elders called him aside for a private talk. 

    Let us imagine some questions they may have asked. Are you okay Maro? What are you thinking? They may have sworn in between, shook their heads, swore to call on their ancestors. 

    The elders and the groom's family could not comprehend his wisdom. They wondered if he meant Ksh70,000 or Ksh700,000 or Ksh7 million and requested to cancel the negotiations. 

    A Ruracio ceremony in Kericho County
    A Ruracio ceremony in Kericho County
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    Dennis Santana

    Here, I bet the daughter was almost breaking down, crying how her day was ruined. In her head, she may have regretted agreeing to her father’s request. I cannot imagine how lost she was in her own thoughts. 

    However, the groom, marvelled by Maro’s request, intervened and agreed to pay the Ksh7. But it was not that easy. This was a puzzle in itself. 

    Who would have carried a mere coin to a bridal party when the vehicles are loaded with goods, foods and bundles of notes in an envelope. They searched among themselves and raised Ksh6 only. 

    But Maro could not give in, he demanded the remaining Ksh1. The groom and his entourage scratched their heads and wondered, rushed to the shopping centre to seek the ‘lost coin’. 

    Imagine appearing at a shop to borrow a Ksh1 from a shopkeeper. Or maybe they bought the Ksh1 by offering Ksh10 in return and hurriedly rushed back to Maro with the Ksh7 coins. 

    All this hustle and bustle yet they had bundles of notes in the vehicle. Funny enough, the bride had requested to prepare a huge token for her father. Seems Maro convinced his daughter to change her mind at the last minute. 

    The groom’s entourage was also astounded. 

    "You know we are used to a tradition where in-laws demand a lot of money, especially because they have invested in their children. However, this was totally different and makes one question his motive," Joseph Jarha, the uncle of the groom wondered. 

    For Maro, all that mattered was the daughter’s happiness. My own father always tells me that children are the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future. 

    What do you think of Maro’s decision? What is your thought on bride price? 

    Note: This incident occurred in December 2020, as indicated in the link below. 

    Father Rejects Millions, Accepts Ksh7 Bride Price for Daughter