Last week, a great aunt engaged me in one of those marriage talks relatives think we ‘young’ people know nothing about. For once, she wasn’t giving one of those mwamamke hujenga nyumba advice. She was talking about divorce, the topic many parents avoid.
You guessed right, she is divorced. She remembered her home of 25 years, the near-perfect landscaped compound. I remember just how spacious it was, you’d have a hard time finding someone hiding.
There was ample space enough to host her children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren during holidays. She wept. And they were definitely not tears of joy but, sadness, anger, and pain.
Why? Because at 58 she had to move from her dream home in Kitengela. She was forced to live in a tiny rented house just a few doors away. She can now barely afford food, let alone another home. How life changes. At some point, marriage wasn’t the heaven she thought it would be.
Separation wasn’t easy for her as well, serious financial issues followed. Don’t be fooled, before getting married, she was one enterprising woman.
But when she got married, things changed, he promised heaven and she had this false impression that she didn’t need to hustle anymore. Her future was bright, or so she thought. Then there were the children who needed her attention more. Power to the women, then what?
Well, now she’s paying the ultimate price for choosing family over career. Or simply drop the latter. So, what am I getting at? Even as we marked International Women’s Day last week, I want to challenge women to be cautious of the choices we make because I know she’s by no means alone.
We are left dependent and helpless because our alimony laws are weak and ineffective. It’s a financial disaster for women who can’t even seek refuge in law. And as much as no one expects divorce as an end result when we walk down that aisle, we need safe nets.
But if the law can’t give you that, do it yourself. Invest, invest, invest. My mum says there’s no harm securing that secret investment or bank account. Let’s ooze empowerment to the bitter end.
As Maya Angelou says, a woman should have…enough money within her control to move out, and rent a place of her own even if she never wants to or needs to. Remember, they promise heaven, but never mention how bumpy that ride will be.