An assessment of the interaction between kikuyu customary marriage and Roman Catholic Church marriage
Karanja, James Mwangi
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Although the church has been growing numerically, the adherence to its teaching on marriage is lacking and this is shown by the decline in the number of people who marry in church today. Even those already married in church, it appears that they find difficulty in channeling their marriages on church teachings on certain issues. Notwithstanding, some marriages today have remained quite unstable even among the faithfuls, This study is about the interaction between Kikuyu customary marriage and Roman Catholic Church marriage today. The study investigated whether there exists conflict of values between the two forms of marriage by exploring how courtship, bridewealth, wedding, polygamy, infertility, divorce among others are handled or viewed by Kikuyu catholics today. Tuthu Palish was selected because it had the earliest influence of Roman Catholic church in Murang'a Diocese. Besides, funds availability, familiarity of the place and the community by the author and the fact that the entire parishioners are Kikuyus were other factors considered. The thesis is as a result of both the secondary and primary data. The secondary data was collected from major libraries in Nairobi as well as from Diocesan records. The primary data was collected mainly through administration of questionnaires, direct personal interviews as well as group discussions. Informants comprised the aged, catechists, the youth and other informed parishioners. The research findings showed that before the coming of catholic christian missionaries in Kikuyu-land, there existed a stable marriage system. This stability was guaranteed by the kinship system, corrununity interest, bridewealth and practice of polygamy among others. The research findings confirmed that the church played a significant role in the disintegration of this maniage by condemning such customary aspects as initiation lites, polygamy, widow inheritance and to some extent bridewealrh payment. It also introduced the idea of indissolubility, individual consent and equality of spouses in marriage. The study also found out that some variables other than the church such as urbanisation, money economy and modem education have also contributed to this disintegration. The study has highlighted that there is conflict of values among the adherents when it comes to fmding solutions to some marital problems. The main areas the two marriages differ include the place of relatives of spouses in church marriages, state of childlessness and dissolubility of marriage. Other socio-economic factors were found to have contributed to the dissatisfaction in marriages. The study concludes that the church maniage has no! been very popular. It suggests that some relatively harmless customary values such as involvement of extended family and bridewealth payment could be incorporated into church marnage. In tills way many Kikuyu catholics are likely 10 be attracted to church marriage for it would appear relevant and meaningful to their lives.
SponsorhipUniversity of Nairobi
Department of Sociology, University of Nairobi