Love is something everyone craves for. It is given to us in abundance at birth and after that, we chase it like a drug for the rests of our lives.
We go from one relationship to another, until we feel satisfied enough to stop and devote ourselves to one special person.
For many this ends in a long lasting and meaningful relationship, but for others, violence becomes the order of the day, sometimes leading to murder.
It is either an estranged lover killing a partner or a wife turning against her husband or vice versa – call them deaths in the name of love.
One may wonder, what exactly is love at this rate?
A compilation of the latest deaths paints a worrying trend of a disgruntled lot, impatient in resolving even the most trivial of disagreements.
To them, killing seems the only answer to their problems.
Tens of such deaths have been recorded across the country, and even before detectives can resolve one, another happens.
On social media, Kenyans are torn between condemnations while another group is on a justification spree.
Others are busy creating memes from the incidents. None seems to know the cause or the solution.
“We are investigating and once done, the culprits will be brought to book,” a statement from detectives that has become synonymous, every such an incident happens.
But there is a silent group, who have undergone through the pain of losing a loved one.
In the last seven days, at least five incidents where young women have had their lives cut short through gender-based violence have been documented according to Faiza Mohamed, the Director Africa Office, Equality Now.
“This speaks of a dire situation given that many other cases are undocumented,” Mohamed told Capital FM News.
Although domestic and intimate partner violence has been acknowledged worldwide as a violation of basic human rights, Mohamed says ” women and girls continue to bear the brunt and are disproportionately affected.”
According to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (2014) five percent of women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence.
“The main perpetrators of physical violence against women were husbands,” she said.
About 4 in 10 every-married women (39pc) have experienced physical and/or sexual violence and slightly less than half (47pc) have experienced at least one of the three forms of spousal violence.
“Considering that there is a culture of silence and victim shaming even after death has occurred, where women are blamed for these acts of brutality by their partners, some women and girls do not report these abuses,” Mohamed pointed out.
“This therefore makes it difficult to know of the exact number of women who have been maimed or killed by their partners.”
During an interview with a local daily, outgoing chair of Women Students Welfare Association (Woswa) Wangui Muchai, said she had handled cases of acid burns, people thrown out of their houses and even violent beatings.
According to Wangui, the cases were diverse, but all boiled down to people who probably loved each other so much, and decided to have serious relationships.
“People fall in love. I call it kukaliwa chapo. And most times they lack exit strategies so they stayed in those relationships,” said.
Worrying case studies
Though not the most recent case, despite having happened just a week ago, the gruesome killing of Ivy Wangechi has sent a chilling message to the authorities and Kenyans that all is not well. The latest, being of the KEMU University female student who was found murdered in her hostel room while the boyfriend’s lifeless body was found hanging in the bathroom of the house.
Wangechi was pursuing medicine at Moi University.
In broad daylight, Wangechi was hacked to death by a male friend for the simple reason that he was “heartbroken.”
Few days later, a 24-year-old woman died after she was stabbed using a knife by her ex-boyfriend in Nyeri County.
The resentful man killed Mary Wangui, a mother of two at her rental house in Nyaribo area, within the County.
Not more than a week, a woman and her two sons were arrested in Makueni for killing a 70 old granny and her son.
The granny and her son were hacked to death while ploughing their farm.
In Machakos County, a 30-year-old man strangled to death his son after a quarrel with his wife on January 26.
He then committed suicide.
In Kitui County, a man hacked to death his 34-year-old wife and two children- son 14, and his 3-year-old daughter on January 14.
In Machakos, Makueni and Machakos County, there have been more than 10 cases of killings following family dispute since January to date.
In 2017 for example, there were 2,774 cases of homicide.
In the same year, police recorded 1, 213 cases where men had committed murder against 222 women perpetrators.
Though police are yet to release 2018 statistics, thousands of lives were lost in the hands of people close to the victims.
Some of the high-profile murder was that of Monica Kimani, the lady whose body was found inside a bathtub in her Kilimani apartment, with her throat slit on September 19.
The other one was that Sharon Otieno, the 7-month pregnant Rongo University student in Migori County.
Otieno, who was a girlfriend to Migori Governor Okoth Obado.
Both cases are active in court, but the mystery in their killing remains to date, months after it happened.
Counselling Psychologist Josephine Macharia said students aged between 21 and 24 tend to be more emotionally volatile, and they tend to take cases of infidelity very seriously.
“It’s an age where people start to look for serious identity and a sense of self. We are all looking for something, once you get it, it hurts to realise betrayal,” said Macharia.
Sheila Wachira, a counselling psychologist at Shewa Relationships in Nairobi, encourages couples to argue whenever they have a disagreement instead of holding grudges that explode with tragic consequences.
“Most couples prefer to keep quiet over issues. That’s why you see an argument spilling over to the media because the anger has been boiling for a long time. Upbringing also counts. Parents should avoid fighting in front of their children. You know what they say about students surpassing their teachers?” warns Wachira.
University of Nairobi sociology lecturer, Ken Ouko, blames the upsurge of spousal killings on devaluation of human life, poor courtship that locks unfamiliar partners together in doomed matrimony and the stress and frustrations of marital life.
“Many married people are so frustrated in their marriages but can’t leave because of children or fear of social stigma. One day, they will reach a breaking point, pick a knife and kill the spouse. The quiet ones, who are church-going and nonviolent, are the type that when frustration reaches appoint they can’t take anymore, will resort to deadly violence,” explains Ouko.
Sheikh Ayub Shariff, an imam, says marriage has gone to the dogs because many married couples don’t follow the teachings of the Quran or Bible.
He adds that simple teachings like the instruction for wives to be submissive to their husbands, and men to act like the heads of home and provide for their families are deemed too old school. But these are the basic principles on which marriages are built.
“Those are simple instructions given to us by God. But nowadays, men don’t provide, they want to sit at home and wait for the woman to provide. How then do you expect a woman to be submissive to a man who can’t provide?” he asks.
Like Ouko, Ker Willis Otondi, the Chairman Luo Council of Elders, blames poor upbringing and courtship.
“In the Luo culture, the parents advised their children on whom to court or avoid. Back in the day, there was a go-between who championed the process of uniting a man and a woman. Today, very few parents even play a role in the growth and development of their children,” says the Luo elder.
Criminal lawyer Cliff Ombeta says most cases of spousal killings are usually instantaneous.
“In very few occasions will you get that a woman or man planned to have the partner killed. In many cases, they are usually crimes of passion that happen without forethought or planning,” says Ombeta.
University lecturer, Dr Masibo Lumala, blames hopelessness, failed dreams, stress and misplaced priorities for the string of murders involving lovers and spouses.
Bishop Allan Kiuna of Jubilee Christian Centre argues that pressure to make it in life has condemned many young people to loneliness. Back in the day, an individual’s predicament was shared not only within the family, but by the whole community. However, in the modern society, it is every man for himself.
Kenyans listed happiest in East Africa
According to the latest World Happiness Report by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Kenyans are the happiest in the East Africa region.
The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness that ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be.
In 2019, the World Happiness Report focused on happiness and the community: how happiness has evolved over the past dozen years, with a focus on the technologies, social norms, conflicts and government policies that have driven those changes.
Kenya is ranked position 121 globally, out of the 156 countries surveyed. South Sudan scored the list across the world at position 156.
“We and others have found that the effects of happiness equality are often larger and more systematic than those of income inequality. For example, social trust, often found to be lower where income inequality is greater, is even more closely connected to the inequality of subjective well-being,” reads a section of the report.
According to the report, Finland has topped the world in the happiness chart for two years-2018 and 2019.