PEACEFUL ENDING

In world of drama, you can divorce gracefully

Mutua's separation from Lilian shows couples can have a cordial split

In Summary

• Major splits in Kenya have been characterised by drama and fights between couples

• It gets worse when properties and children are involved, but it doesn't have to be so

Alfred Mutua with his ex-wife Lilian Ng'ang'a during his birthday
Alfred Mutua with his ex-wife Lilian Ng'ang'a during his birthday
Image: CHARLENE MALWA

Divorce and separation are usually noisy and messy. They are a long and tedious journey, which exhausts the parties emotionally, physically and even economically.

Often, the couple does not see eye to eye, especially when they choose to head to court.

The situation gets worse when children and properties are involved, with some people going as far as killing the other party just to get rid of the “problem”.

Meru Senator Mithika Linturi’s ongoing divorce to Marianne Kitany is one of the most dramatic divorces in recent times.

For more than three years now, Linturi has had a dramatic and acrimonious divorce from his estranged wife, Kitany.

The couple, who had moved to court, took turns in washing each other’s dirty linen in public, maybe innocently or out of anger.

At one point, Kitany even accused the legislator of impotence.

“Linturi was unable to rise to the occasion in the bedroom on several occasions, claiming exhaustion, sickness, but for the most part he simply could not,” she said.

Kitany described how their relationship started as a fling before it blossomed into an intense love affair and later to marriage.

The ex-wife, however, told the court she got the shock of her life when she snooped on Linturi’s phone and found photos of women and also pornographic videos sent to him by several women.

Linturi on his part insisted they were never married and that Kitany was a stranger who moved into his house.

Image: PXFUEL

In Mombasa, former Nyali MP Hezron Awiti and his ex-wife Lucy Adhiambo also created a spectacle when they filed a divorce suit in 2009.

Awiti accused his wife of adultery and wanted the court to declare their marriage null and void.

He accused Adhiambo of infidelity and stealing Sh8 million from his company.

In return, Adhiambo accused the former lawmaker of cheating on her with five women.

She also said the aspiring governor has erectile dysfunction, thus denying her conjugal rights.

She told the court she had not enjoyed sex since 2005 due to her husband’s impotence.

The ex-wife accused Awiti of forcing her to undergo rituals, which have in turned affected her psychologically. The politician is also accused of assaulting his wife multiple times, causing her bodily injuries.

DIGNIFIED SPLIT

The script changed with the recent divorce between Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua and his wife Lilian Nganga. It brought a whole new meaning to ending a marriage.

Their separation was not characterised by the drama and abuse usually witnessed especially when politicians and celebrities are involved.

Both Mutua and Nganga took to their Instagram accounts to announce their separation after close to eight years of blissful marriage.

In their messages, they showered each other with beautiful messages and praise.

Mutua said they had separated two months earlier and the former power couple were on amicable terms and remained close friends.

“Our love for each other is permanent but I think at times, space and new directions are important,” Mutua said.

“I thank God for bringing Lilian into my life and the many ways we have made each other grow. We have had a laugh and at times a tear but all in all, we have been a power couple and very happy. We celebrate life and are pleased that we have reached this decision in a mature, agreeable manner.”

Mutua stressed on how he was a blessed man to have met Nganga and promised to support each other.

On her part, Nganga expressed how grateful she was to God for having brought them together.

She said she had to end her long-term relationship with Mutua but they will remain friends.

“The only constant in life is change and we must be present and aware to appreciate and embrace it,” Nganga wrote.

Nganga said her charity work and projects will not be interfered with by their actions and she will continue carrying them out through the Lillian Nganga Foundation.

And true to their word, their friendship was manifested when Nganga attended Mutua’s birthday at Ole Sereni Hotel.

They shared the high table and even offered each other a piece of cake.

Mutua’s latest separation was in stark contrast to when he divorced his first wife Thitu Maundu as he seems to have learnt some lessons in the process.

The governor divorced Maundu in 2015, having being married to her for 15 years.

The divorce was noisy and messy both in public and in court as both parties fought for properties and the custody of their children.

In the neighbouring country of Uganda, an ex-husband and wife shared dinner moments after finalising their divorce.

Immaculate Nantago took to social media to share photos of them having a meal and later a cake written, “Happily divorced.”

Instead of antagonising, Nantago celebrated their marriage, which had resulted in two handsome boys, and further celebrated their friendship, co-parenting and maturity.

TO SPLIT OR NOT?

These decorated cordial splits begged the question of whether it is better to let go when it is not working or continue holding on to the irredeemable marriage.

Divorcee Jane Mshindi says even though divorce is painful and heart-wrenching, in some instances, it is the best decision for both parties.

She said it gets worse when parties cannot agree over some issues, such as division of properties and custody of the children.

“I am speaking from experience. I have walked through that journey and it was not easy,” she said.

Mshindi and her former husband had been married for close to eight years when his mistakes made her fall out of love with him.

She said she got tired of their union as the love she had for her husband evaporated into the thin air and minor arguments or mistakes ignited anger inside her.

“When he made the mistake and apologised, I forgave him but as time went by, I could not forget his betrayal and I sometimes wished he just disappears.”

Occasionally, she would think of walking out but then she would think of society’s perception and also her family deterred her from making that step.

“One day, I just woke up and just walked out of that house and never to look back. It is three years now and my sons and I are at peace,” she said.

She never thought of having a discussion with her husband because she was sure he would restrain her from leaving her matrimonial home.

Mshindi said the reason it took her so long before taking that decision was her worry about how society would perceive her.

She was also scared of what would happen to her sons who would grow without a father and whether they would understand her action of walking out of her marriage.

Her silent walkout, however, became her healing point and she, alongside her ex-husband, reached a consensus to co-parent. 

WHEN TO LEAVE

Marriage therapist Wendy Kabiru says even though her work is to champion and encourage couples, some marriages are irreconcilable.

Kabiru said marriage counselling only works when both parties are willing to listen to and forgive each other.

“However, the couple should separate if one of them is not willing to be part of that union. There is no need of forcing people who do not want to sleep on the same bed to continue doing so,” she said.

“When it comes to separation, we advocate a peaceful, drama-less and dignified separation. This then gives them room to rethink and in some instances reconcile.”

She further said a cordial divorce also protects children from the drama that comes with a fight for properties and custody of the children.