IMPACT OF COLONIALISM ON TRADITIONAL AFRICAN MARRIAGE AMONG THE IGOJI PEOPLE OF KENYA (1907–2010)
CAROLINE MUCECE KITHINJI
Marriage is one of the rites of passage in Africa. Others are birth, naming, initiation and death. With the coming of colonialism, traditional African marriage practices of betrothal and courtship, dowry payment and the actual marriage ceremony are changing with no regard as to why they were practiced. The study focused on the impact of colonialism on betrothal and courtship, payment of dowry and the marriage ceremony. Evidence of change and the factors responsible for the changes were also explored. The study covered the period between 1907, when the first British Administrator Edward Butler Horne arrived in Meru, to 2010 when the parliament of Kenya passed legislations aimed at protecting the marriage institution. Literature was reviewed on traditional African understanding of marriage and the colonial influence.
The study was guided by the modernization theory. The study employed ex-post facto research design. The target population was drawn from five sub – locations namely, Kiamweri, Kianjogu, Kuiri, Gikui and Mworoga. The sample was determined as the study progressed and was drawn from the married aged and the young married. The respondents were selected through snowballing, purposive and quota sampling. A total of sixty respondents were interviewed. The instruments used to collect data were interview schedules and opinion/attitude scales. The researcher attended marriage preparation ceremonies and observed events as they occurred. Archival and secondary sources were also consulted. To ensure reliability and validity, data from oral sources was corroborated with data from archival and secondary sources. Data was analysed using qualitative and quantitative methods. Qualitative data obtained from oral interviews was transcribed into written texts by merging the notes taken during interviews into a single coherent description of the discussions which was presented in a narrative form. Quantitative data was tallied and presented in a tabular form. The findings of the study established that numerous changes have occurred in the marriage institution among the people of Igoji. The study concluded that colonialism is responsible for the changes taking place in the marriage institution. The study acknowledged that change is a gradual process and if not checked, it can lead to erosion of a peoples culture and consequently to cultural death of a community. The study therefore recommended that the government should come up with polices that promote cultural revival so that good cultural aspects can be preserved while discarding the negative elements. This study has contributed to Igoji social historiography.