My parents rejected my girlfriend because of her tribe

parent quarrel

Many young people are still being confronted by parents who still are of the view that intermarriage defiles the family line.

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Hi Pastor Kitoto

My girlfriend and I have been dating for five years. After enjoying a wonderful relationship, we decided it was time to settle down officially and become a family. Around the same time, she found out she was pregnant and this sort of confirmed we were ready to be a family.

I approached my family to inform them of my decision to marry this girl. To my horror, they rejected the news and told me I cannot marry a Luhya girl. I am a Kikuyu but I didn’t think that mattered.

When I told them we were expecting a child they told me to stay away from my girlfriend and not to dare name our child after them as per our custom. I love this girl so much and it hurts me to see my family behave like this. What should I do?


Negative ethnicity though wrong is a practice being held dear by some in our society. From the onset, sadly, let me state that you are not the only young adult facing such a dilemma. Many young people are still being confronted by parents who still are of the view that intermarriage defiles the family line.

First, negative ethnicity is one of the factors responsible for poor societal integration and national cohesion. While many of the younger generations have moved to integrate with people of other races and tribes, a number of the older folk still find this a problem. Exposure through education, travel, migration and urbanisation has made the world a global village. Racial integration for example has boosted skills transfer and trade.

Secondly, in relationships, love knows no boundaries. The rich and the poor intermarry just like the educated marry the uneducated. True love looks beyond tribe or race to shared ideals, dreams, and expectations. You may need to interrogate your definition of love and just ensure that it complies with its true meaning. Love is a choice to accept the other no matter the cost. As for you, you should be willing to pay the price even when your relationship with your parents or siblings is on the line.

Five years of dating has been long enough to give you the opportunity to know what you are looking for in a woman. After all, there are many who have married from the same race or tribe but their marriages never lasted. On the contrary, there are many others who were from different races and clans who enjoyed many happy years together. I must qualify here by insisting that, marriage is about two people seeking to overcome their differences and make a life together and build on common ideals.

As much as parents are important and hold a special place in our lives, marriage is about the two of you and what you aspire to see in your relationship. There is nothing as painful as leaving someone you truly loved and were compatible with and ending up marrying another out of respect for the parents. Yes, I understand honour is important, but when you are forced to do what you know to be truly wrong, it may require going by what is right rather than living in regret or maybes.

Choices, attitude

Tom and Tina (not their real names), while facing a similar situation, chose to do what was right and continue with their marriage despite the parents’ objections. Ten years of pain and exclusion passed by, but finally, the father came to his senses and allowed his son to bring his wife home. I have witnessed similar stories over the years of my counselling experience. What matters is your choices and attitude. Of course, there are moments when parents may see a certain flaw in the relationship that you may never have seen. In that case, be a good listener and doer of what is right.

Education, sports, business and migration and urbanisation have brought communities together under one roof. The quicker your parents learn this the better it will be for them. Just ensure that your choice is based on sound judgement and not fleshly desires and momentary infatuations.

I suggest that you get an open discussion going possibly with the help of a much more open-minded elder. In addition, don’t marry out of hate or rebellion against your parents’ actions. If they choose to hold onto their beliefs, then get married for the reasons you can defend while continuing to respect and honour your parents.

Let me add that you will need to make the choice to marry out of love regardless of the consequences. Basing your love just on feeling will defeat the purpose of why we are called to marital love. Love must go beyond feelings to the intellect. Finally, relating intelligently will mean that you make the choice to love your partner the same way you love yourself or the way God loves you. Such understanding will create a willingness to make the necessary sacrifices for the survival of the relationship. When we learn to love and affirm our decisions, we will find it easier to defend our partner without feeling manipulated.

I suggest that you be sure of the qualities you want in a wife. Base your decision on sober judgement. Second, face your parents lovingly but firmly with your convictions. Your convictions must be realistic and must make logical sense. Third, refuse to be dragged into tribal feuds. God made us all equal before his sight. Finally, if the parents refuse to side with your choice, then stand with your partner lovingly and courageously. Don’t let their feelings hurt and affect how you relate to them.

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