A seeming Commonwealth but uncommon cultural values – UK & Kenya

Who sets the standard?

It is a common phenomenon to see former colonies being whipped into some order that portrays certain core elements that forms part of the colonial power’s cultural content. This is evident in former African colonies emulating foreign contents such as language, education, way of dressing, governance and many others from their colonial masters.

This is mainly a direct product from the length and extent of control and dominance exercised over these colonies. Additionally, some colonial powers, before granting independence, put systems in place to force these vulnerable countries into accepting certain practices or face diplomatic bullying. Mere fear of this threat makes many African leaders succumb to daring demands.

Interestingly, Kenya, which was a former colony of the then powerful British Empire, is emerging as one of the exceptions to this colonial arrangement in terms of family structure. The East African country is operating a system of marriage that contradicts the structure of its former colonial master.

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Polygamist Musa Mseleku and his four wives

As it is well known to all, the laws of the United Kingdom frowns on polygamous marriage. The performance of such marriage is considered a violation and it is punishable by law. Moreover, the UK accepts and legalized same-sex marriage.

The practice in Kenya is completely the opposite. Unlike the UK, the Kenyan government has signed into law, a marriage bill that legalizes polygamous marriage and criminalizes homosexuality.

As it stands now, a man in Kenya has legal backing to marry as many women as he can but same-sex marriage or relationship is culturally and legally unacceptable in Kenya.

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Gay Couples David Castro and Briton Jason Little

Per the language of the aforementioned colonial arrangements and the emerging neocolonial institution called diplomacy, coupled with the possible indirect consequences that may follow undeniably, this Kenyan “defiance” is daring hence the need for this piece.

It is understandable that Kenya is an autonomous country that is free to take decisions that give value to its culture and serves the best interest of the country without the approval of other countries and any attempt to subordinate its mode of operation to that of its former colonial master could amount to an undermining of its sovereignty…

This writ, however, is not intended to undermine the Kenyan decision-making authority but to rather build a juxtaposition that leads the conversation on the practice of true independence and respect for cultural diversity across the world.