Fifty-three days from tomorrow, it will not be business as usual when it comes to marriage.
The government will start registering customary unions like it does with those done in churches or at the Attorney-General’s chambers.
At the moment, two people can be recognised as husband and wife after dowry is paid and other rites performed.
An affidavit sworn by the couple is all that is needed to officially prove the marriage. But things are set to change drastically.
In a notice in the Kenya Gazette today, the Registrar of Marriages announced that starting August 1, certificates will be issued to formalise customary marriages.
To obtain the certificate, the couple has to notify the registrar prior to performing their marriage rites.
“Parties who wish to contract customary marriage [from August 1] must obtain prior authorisation from the Office of the Registrar of Marriages.
“Marriage certificates shall be issued to parties upon successful application,” the notice placed by Attorney-General Githu Muigai, under whose office the Registrar of Marriages falls, read.
Those already married through customary law — which is the only one that allows polygamous marriages — also need to start registering their unions from August 1.
The new order will mean that those who are in polygamous marriages will have multiple certificates.
“If one marries 10 wives, each wife will have a marriage certificate; hence 10 certificates will be issued,” George Gachihi, the Deputy Registrar of Marriages, told the Saturday Nation in an email in February while discussing a related matter.
In the gazette issue, the registrar also announced that those married under Hindu customs will need to register their marriages between August 2017 and January 2018.
Equally, those who wish to wed through Hindu customs will from August 1 be required to get authorisation from the Registrar of Marriages.
What’s more, Hindu priests have been asked to get a licence to solemnise marriages under their religion.
“All ministers of faith under the Hindu Religion are required to apply through the Hindu Council of Kenya to the Registrar of Marriages for a licence to solemnise Hindu marriages,” the notice added.