Kenyans react to ruling on land inheritance for married women

Kenyans react to ruling on land inheritance for married women

The country is abuzz after a ruling by a Nyeri court affirming the right of married women in inheritance of their father’s land.

On Thursday, reactions were varied with men who talked to CitizenTV surprised and even shocked, especially in communities where men have been grabbing all inheritance from their parents.

The ruling by Lady Justice Lucy Waithaka held that married daughters qualify to inherit and  are entitled to benefit from the deceased’s estate.

This has since triggered intense debate among people of Nyeri County.

According to Simon Njaramba, a Kikuyu elder, Kikuyu customary law did not forbid women from inheriting their parents’ property.

“When a lady was married it meant that she is gone to the other family and her children belong to another clan,” said Njaramba.

Married women were considered to belong to their marital clan and land then belonged to the clan, he said.

Njaramba was however quick to note that times have changed.

Maendeleo ya Wanaume National Chair Nderitu Njora was of the opinion that the ruling is unfair and contrary to African values.

“We are against that ruling as its unfair to men and it’s against African culture,” said Nderitu.

Maendeleo ya Wanawake Nyeri Town chairperson Emma Njora however felt that it is a step in the right direction adding that any positive change in the our cultures should be welcomed.

“It is the same Kikuyu who are now educating girls which was not the case in the past, so this should be welcome.” said Emma.

Some other Nyeri residents had varied opinions, with the bulk of the men feeling that the ruling disadvantages them.

“I am a father of girls and they belong to where they got married not my home,” said one male resident.

Most women we spoke to were in support of the ruling.

“These marriages are not stable, you can break up with your husband and you need a place you can call your own,” one said.

“At least now when women die they can be buried at home and not a public cemetery,” another one added.

The ruling could bring about a lot of changes in property ownership not only in the region but across the country.

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