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Why I married a fellow woman

At 83, Kaloki Wambua’s greatest pride is her wife and family.

Wambua was married for 20 years but divorced after a childless marriage. “I left my husband. We stayed together for 20 years. He married a second wife and treated me like a nobody. He was not violent. He never beat me. I was submissive. I had no children so I had to do everything he said. His second wife had eight children,” a bitter Wambua told the writer during the interview in Kibera’s Laini Saba slums.
Wambua explains. “He would take three months without seeing me. I lived with his mother. He was a surveyor. He did not give me a single penny,” claims Wambua.
Taking advantage of the Kamba culture that allows a childless woman to marry another woman, Wambua married Victoria Wavinya and she became Mrs Wavinya Wambua.

My very own
“I bought my own shamba. I have a family. Not my father or my mother’s but my very own. I married Wavinya when she already had three children at her father’s home. I gave her father five goats. Now we have seven children, six girls and one boy.”
She says her children love her like a shilling and always take very good care of her. She says her wife Wavinya loves her too and feeds her and ensures she never lacks for anything. Wavinya is a vegetable hawker in South C, Nairobi while Wambua now lives in the village, in Makueni.
How I made my money

According to Wambua, after Kenya’s first President Kenyatta died and President Moi took over, she was already a member of Nyakinyua Women Dancing Group.

She says although some people ridiculed the Nyakinyua dancers as idlers, it was in Nyakinyua that she broke even and made her wealth. “We sang for former President Daniel Arap Moi at Embakasi Airport. I was a wizard at blowing the whistle.  Every day, we could get between KSh50 and KSh300.  I was introduced to a women’s merry-go-round by Mama Emmaculate Musya in Kibera. She took us to Garissa Lodge in Eastleigh and bought us two pairs of uniforms so that we could be visible enough to outshine other entertainers. She divided us into groups of 40. That is how I ended up buying a Shamba in Kayole at KSh120,000. Wambua later started her own Utanu Women’s Group of 27, where they specialised in Akamba dances. The group bought ten plots in Kibera and have a title deed of another plot in Kayole. They are also enlisted at the Nairobi Stock Exchange.

“Being foolish (ignorant) women, we lost one of the plots in Kayole since we did not know much about how to process the title deeds. Now we are wiser and we ask women who know to show us the way,” says Wambua cheekily.

“My father had three wives and 15 children. Three died and now we remain 12,”says Kaloki Wambua Kaloki, now 83.

Copyright Omwa Ombara 2012

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