What you need to know:
- Pastor Mulwa blames the Church and formal education for “brainwashing” men into believing it is wrong to have relations with more than one woman.
- A baby complicates the issue further. Kenya Assemblies of God Bishop Philip Kitoto attributes the secrecy to men’s fear of the unknown once they tell the truth.
Likoni MP Mishi Mboko is a straight-shooting lawmaker and she was in her element during a memorial service for the late Kibra MP Ken Okoth.
It didn’t help that she spoke after Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, who had revealed that Okoth had a lover with a child. Mboko then challenged men.
“I’m asking men to declare their position early… so that they don’t break our hearts as women when we are mourning,” she said in her signature sassy voice to those who had gathered.
Mboko wants every man who has sired a child out of wedlock to confess to his wife before he dies, rather than wait for the wife to learn the hard way during the reading of the will or at the husband’s funeral, or through court orders.
Lifestyle spoke with several men on secret lovers, why they are kept hidden and if they should be there in the first place.
Though he advises couples to be honest to each other and reconcile when it happens, Kenya Assemblies of God Bishop Philip Kitoto admits that having an affair out of wedlock is not an easy thing to tell your spouse.
A baby complicates the issue further. He attributes the secrecy to men’s fear of the unknown once they tell the truth. “We are never quite sure of the reaction of our spouse and children. What will happen after they know,” says Kitoto
Also, men like protecting their image. “No one wants to be seen as the bad guy. Each person has an image they have projected to their family, friends and workmates. It is said that few people live out their true selves.” Fear of being vulnerable also drives men underground
“Exposure and disclosure which are true elements of integrity are also hard to express. The pain of being vulnerable may be tough to bear,” he advises.
Men also have a sense of pride that can be wounded by such confessions. “At times, we keep things hidden because we are too proud to stoop low and confess wrong.”
Bishop Kitoto however still roots for complete disclosure. “Dealing with undisclosed sin or failure could bring strength to a relationship if handled well. No one is perfect; we are all imperfect people with a desire to be made perfect one day.”
But for 28-year-old George Bush, a bachelor in Nairobi whose native home is in Homa Bay County, culture and fear of ridicule is the reason he cannot tell the wife.
“Culturally and historically, a child belongs to the society. And a woman, as per our culture, belongs to the society. Our work is to procreate. After procreation, whatever happens after you’re gone, that’s the work of society,” he argues.
He adds: “Right now, we should not even be discussing about polygamy because, from time immemorial, men have been polygamous.”
Backing up Bush’s argument is 44-year-old Lawrence Oyugi, a father of five from Migori County who is an outspoken leader of Bunge la Mwananchi in Nairobi.
“According to my tribe, a man is everything. We believe it is unnecessary to give a woman such kind of information because, at long last, we Luos don’t reject children. We believe children are the continuation of the bloodline,” he says.
“So, when a child comes from somewhere claiming to be yours, you will automatically accept the child within the family. That’s according to my tribe.
"So, I don’t see the importance of approaching a woman on the topic of children with another woman; it’ll increase chaos in the family,” he adds.
Vincent Mboya Mulwa, the 54-year-old pastor at Christ Pilgrims Restoration Centre who has so far written two books to argue his case for polygamy, has a different view.
A polygamous man himself, Mulwa said the Bible is “a polygamous book” and as such, no Christian man should fear having relations outside his marriage and siring a child out of it. He believes none should hide it either.
He argues: “There comes a time when people need to face reality. Now, marriages in the West are failing yet we are just following their ways. What is better: having two wives or having one wife at a time and divorcing? Because in the West, you must divorce then get another one.”
Mulwa blames the Church and formal education for “brainwashing” men into believing it is wrong to have relations with more than one woman.
One man who is certain he will tell his wife about children he has with another woman is Vincent Kidaha, a 37-year-old father of three from Vihiga County.
“I will tell my wife exactly what has transpired because I do understand that men are polygamous by nature. We get attracted to what we see and sometimes emotions overlap conscience, and a child is born,” says Kidaha.
If his wife walks out on him after making such a revelation, he believes, that will be testament that she never loved him.
“If I have been with a woman for, say, 12 years, then she leaves me because of a mistake I did in a day, that will mean that she has never been mine from the word go,” he argues.
For David Oyola, a 29-year-old politician from Homa Bay County, the best time to let the cat out of the bag is when the man is about to die.
Oyola, who is currently engaged, says he has already revealed to his wife about children he had before they met.
But, if he sires a child with another woman in the course of their marriage, he reckons, it will be difficult to divulge that information.
“I reckon it will be difficult to disclose to avoid fights. However, when you are almost dying, you can bring everything out so that you put your house in order.
"Tell your wife, ‘during this time that we lived together, I had another relationship and a baby came out’. That is more understandable. After all, you’re going to die,” he opines.
Twenty-nine-year-old Elvis Mutuku disagrees with Oyola. He says there is no need to disappoint loved ones at the time of your death and to spark a property dispute at that critical time.
“To avoid this, it’s better for you to act early: to introduce that other woman or family that you have, even the children, to the current wife. I know there will be consequences but, as a man, you should be ready to face them,” he says.
Women, on the other side, also had strong opinions on the matter.
While there were those who said they would like to know whether their partners have children with other women, there were others riding on the adage, “What you don’t know doesn’t hurt you”.
There were some who vowed to “do something” to avenge their partners’ infidelity.
Lifestyle spoke with a woman in Nairobi who discovered, in the most unorthodox of ways, that her husband has a child with another woman.
The 35-year-old, whom we will call Sara, took to Twitter on August 3 to share her story.
When she shared the full story, it was clear she is yet to heal from the scar, having walked out of her 10-year marriage nine months ago.
“If heartbreaks were literal, I think I felt it that day: real, physical pain in my chest. I had always heard of stories about cheating husbands and never once did I put myself in that position,” she said.
A few years into their marriage, she narrated, she suspected that her husband was having an affair.
“I confronted him and he denied it, of course, but I knew it in my gut that he was lying and that something was going on,” she started.
After that conversation, they made up, only for her to be contacted via SMS one day by a strange woman.
“She told me she had an eight-month-old son with my husband, and that he had suddenly stopped caring for the young boy,” said Sara.
She then asked this woman why she had taken so long to report the matter. “She said he had been supportive through the pregnancy and then for the first four months after the baby was born.
"When I asked whether a DNA test was conducted, she told me that my husband had been present during the birth of the child and had even signed for the birth certificate,” Sara said.
He at one point told her that he felt relieved that she had unearthed the information.
The audacity with which he said it, Sara narrated, made her resent the man even more and she quit the marriage.