They are revealed at funerals, in court, on the death bed, slip of the tongue or may be, somebody just decided to get the burden off their chest. Sometimes they are dark or unusual, but surely, they don’t fail to astound
Betty Muindi @BettyMuindi
Peter Wabuyele’s family secret revolved around another family. About 10 years ago, Wabuyele was involved in a love affair with his house girl that resulted in not just one, but two children. The relationship, however, went sour when his wife found out about it.
She was deeply hurt and even threatened to leave her marital home, but her husband convinced her back into the marriage. But they could not let it be known by other family members and friends.
Besides, Wabuyele had just declared interest in politics and such news would severely damaged his reputation and prospects, so they kept the issue out of the public ear.
The couple broke the news to their children and requested them to keep the issue strictly a family affair. The family also promised the former house girl full support on condition that she kept the issue a top secret.
For 10 years, this secret was kept under cover until Wabuyele’s death a year ago. For fear of being left out of inheritance plans, the former house girl cum lover resurfaced and shocked the village when she unraveled the deeply buried secret to other relatives and the public. ‘So, Wabuyele’s family also knew about this?’ everyone was dazed.
Grace Opar is another victim of dirty family secrets. When she was only 14 years old, she got pregnant and her family was devastated by this turn of events.
Their child was too young and they were worried that if neighbours and friends knew of their daughter’s pregnancy, the whole family would be subjected to humiliation and their daughter would be stigmatised.
“When I got pregnant, my parents and siblings could not imagine the disgrace they would face as a result, so they took me to a private clinic and the pregnancy was terminated,” Grace painfully recalls.
They have kept the secret to date, 12 years later. But Grace regrets ever letting her family making that decision for her. “My life has been a lie, I am now 26 years old and married, but I cannot get a baby because the abortion I procured more than a decade ago was botched.
I don’t know how long this secret is going to last, and I cannot even disclose it to my husband,” laments Grace.
Just like Wabuyele and Grace’s families, it is said that every family has a secret and every day presents a new shocking story of deception, mystery, and scandal that are hidden just beneath the surface of what appears, from the outside, to be ordinary family lives.
So what is your family’s dirty little secret? Some secrets may relate to taboo topics, law violations or just conventional secrets.
From kidnapped children reared in hiding, to married cousins, to fugitive mothers, a child reared outside wedlock, homosexuality, adultery, divorce, mental health, crime, substance abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse premarital pregnancy, cohabitation, alcoholism or more simple secrets such as personality conflicts, academic performance and physical health problems.
Some of these secrets can be shared by the whole family, by some family members or kept by an individual member of the family. One of the most common reasons people justify keeping secrets is the need to ‘protect’ the family reputation or an individual in the family.
Some secrets are generations old; others newly created. All have the ability to tear the fabric of the family system apart. Unfortunately any topic that a family member thinks may cause anxiety may become a family secret. Here are more common family secrets that pull back the curtain of normalcy to unravel deeply buried mysteries.
While much progress has been made in the last several decades with regard to accepting homosexuality as part of the human fabric, homophobia still exists within families and society at large. Families are trapped by the desire to see other members of their family in their own image, so they choose to keep such characters as family secret.
It is still a well kept secret among many families. Most families are still caught up in traditional and social cocoons that bind them to keep to themselves and within the family when violence occurs.
Criminal family member
When a family has a member who is a criminal such as a thief, they get mixed emotions. Whether it is a dark criminal past or a recent one, the effects of crime and trauma are far reaching for those that they love.
Two years ago, residents of Nyayo Estate in Embakasi woke up to bizzare news of a family that had lived with a dead body of their loved one for two years.
Although the family said they were not aware of their family member, 22-year-old Peter Njagi’s body in the house, questions emerged on how they lived without sensing any foul smell in the house as the body decomposed.
Residents also wondered why the police were not notified when the body was found. Planned and accidental murders are just some of the possible dark secrets family members keep to protect themselves from shame or litigation.