In the African set up, marriage is almost a social obligation and is held in high regard. As a result, it has over time become just about everyone’s dream to settle down.
Is it your dream too? Ask Kenyan musician Ondi Madete and she will tell you it is definitely not. Although she once, like a lot of Africans, dreamt of it and was hasty in making it come true, it was short lived. In Kenya, it is not every day you encounter a 26-year-old who got married and divorced soon after. Ondi is one such an exception.
“I don’t believe in marriage. I don’t believe that it is necessary for two people to sign a document in order to do anything,” Ondi says. “People get married because of safety and for the sake of their children. If something happens to your children when you are married, then they are protected in a way.”
Ondi’s experience taught her this: A lot of Kenyan youths are in love and forever dream of spending the rest of their lives with their current partners. Ondi was in that situation as well. In fact, she was so obsessed of getting married that she did the unthinkable to realise it. At 22, Ondi got pregnant on purpose to have a reason to stay with her then boyfriend in a lifelong relationship.
They made a mutual decision to get married for the sake of the child. Without the consent of their folks, Ondi and her ex-husband (whose name she chose to protect) went to the Attorney General’s Chambers and signed documents that would officially make them husband and wife.
It started going downhill for Ondi after she got married, however. First was the challenge of informing her parents that she had gotten married.
“When you are surrounded by family and someone can tell you that you are being an idiot so you get tired and just go to your sister’s place, who lives far from home,” Ondi recalls. Her family came to support her later as she was already expectant.
Marriage as it turned out for Ondi was not as fun as she had hoped. She terms herself as a feminist and says the role of a woman in marriage is what made her regret getting married the most. She had secured a full-time job and was having a hard time balancing taking care of her newly-born son and work.
“I wasn’t doing all the things that I used to do. Making music, performing, interacting; all those things that made me who I am. That, on my side, made it difficult to live with somebody else,” she narrates.
Continuously doing chores and taking care of the baby while still going to work got to Ondi’s nerves. She did not feel the relationship was fair. According to her, she was doing more than her husband and yet they were in it together.
She could only stand this for two years. Having studied law, Ondi knew how to get divorce without destroying either party. She used this knowledge to get the divorce after she felt she had had enough.
Divorcing, according to her, was a decision she will never regret. In fact, she does not plan to ever get married again. After the divorce, she went back to doing music and is set to launch her first album this coming month.