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AMBANI: Should a woman change her surname after marriage?

Friday August 30 2019

Kamotho Waiganjo, Anne Waiguru

Kamotho Waiganjo and Anne Waiguru share a piece of meat during their traditional wedding ceremony on July 13, 2019 at Kiamugumo Primary School in Gichugu, Kirinyaga County. PHOTO | COURTESY 

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My parents got married in 1967 in a little church. The wedding was attended by the whole community in the village. It was just a few years after independence and 13 years later, the law was amended to include women in the in the registration of person’s ordinance the then known Kipande, and change it to the first generation paper identity card.

My mother did not have any reservations in taking up her husband’s name. You see, her ID and all important documents carry’s her given name plus her husband’s name and not that of her father.

This was the common phenomena to most couples of this era, but not anymore as times have changed.


I’m not against any woman opting to take up her husband’s name, but let it be because it is her choice and not be forced down their throats like bitter medicine.

Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru’s marriage to city lawyer Kamotho Waiganjo hit the headlines in July and their union was dubbed ‘wedding of the year’.


The question on everyone’s lips was if she would take up her husband’s second name. Some news outlets went ahead to refer to her as Mrs Waiganjo.

The more cautious members of the Fourth Estate could not risk going back to their respective newsrooms without getting the answer to that one ‘golden’ question, as they accosted her outside the Supreme Courts after winning a case against politician Martha Karua who challenged her election to the gubernatorial seat.

The Governor has built her political brand around the Waiguru name so why would she want to change it? Given that she has been taunted with other names like “Minji Minji” and “Cat-walking politician”, one would imagine that her second name is her distinct brand and one which she would want to stick to.  

You see, building an image and a brand takes a lot of time and hard work. Years of sweat, ridicule and facing bullies. But nothing can compare to the feeling of satisfaction when you are able to beat the odds and stand victorious.

Award-winning American rock star Tina Turner knows this too well and the only thing she asked of her abusive husband during their divorce hearing was the permission to keep his last name.   

Women now are more inclined at keeping their fathers’ names rather than taking up their husbands’ names.

Maybe because it is the name that is probably on all her important documents and introducing another name is a long and tedious job.

Gone are the days when women married men for just the value of their names in the society. The fairer sex is now more determined to achieve by breaking the glass ceilings and making a name for themselves.

There are better ways to exact your masculinity to a woman, and demanding her to start changing her names after your nuptials is not one of them, plus it’s the man she is marrying and not the name.