Chuka University




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.

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