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The number of interracial marriages is increasing rapidly in Kenya. Between 1998 and 2010, records at the marriage registry indicate that the number of interracial marriages grew by 85 per cent.
This trend reflects the changes in attitudes and declining social barriers between different racial groups.
This marked growth is a definite indicator of an evolving society where people are learning to open up to other cultures. The world is fast becoming a global village with the advent of the internet and cross-cultural marriages.
In Kenya, there are often mixed reactions to these unions. Some people are clearly not for them, while others approve highly. Whichever way one looks at it, when cupid’s arrow strikes, it does not matter or care about the colour of the skin.
Love does not discriminate. It is common knowledge that marriages between certain races are most likely to succeed as compared to others.
This is true of White/black marriages. The society seems to tolerate them more than Afro-Asian marriages. The most common marriages of people from two different races in Kenya are as follows:
Marriages between whites and blacks
Over the years, there has been raging debate about Black woman/white man marriages. Several opinions have been tabled about them with no viable conclusion. For quite a long time, marriage to a white man was viewed by some as a ticket to a better life.
This may be true in certain cases, whereas for others, it remains a pie in the sky promise. The largest numbers of white men who marry African women are Europeans from Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
There are a good number of marriages with men from the UK and France. Cases of white Americans and African women are on the increase, especially in the US.
The number of African men marrying white women is, however, on the decline today, and when it does occur, the vast majorities are women from the UK or Germany. All these unions face different challenges, the most common being the culture shocks that each party experiences.
African women are said to adapt quite fast and to fit in more easily to the new society than their white counterpart coming to Africa for the firat time. It is therefore logical to conclude that the most successful mixed marriages occur between African women and European men.
These unions often work out because both parties are mutually attracted to each other. One woman, married to a Belgian man says: “The European men find African women attractive. They appreciate our exotic features, find us humble and appealing, and treat us very well. They readily accept us as their wives and make us feel good about ourselves.”
Many African families readily accept these marriages and welcome the men with open arms. The two integrate and interact quite well, often pleasantly surprised to find that they have quite a lot in common in terms of certain cultural aspects.
The same cannot be said of African and Asian marriages, where one or both families are usually reluctant to admit each other’s children as their own. Many African parents find the prospect of their son or daughter getting married to an Indian to be daunting.