INVOLUNTARY CELIBACY

How racism, costly gold dowry put Salim Swaleh off marrying

One can be killed for hanging out with Iranian women, he says

In Summary

• After six years in Iran, he returned to Kenya and married his childhood sweetheart 

Churchill with NTV's Salim Swaleh
Churchill with NTV's Salim Swaleh
Image: courtesy

NTV Swahili anchor Salim Swaleh says racism and costly gold dowry made him not marry in Iran, where he worked for close to six years.

Speaking during an interview on Churchill Show, Swaleh said dowry is paid in the form of gold in Iran.

"When marrying a Persian woman, her weight is recorded and her dowry is set at gold that weighs a quarter of her weight," he said.

Swaleh added that the dowry is paid even if you leave her, something that has given women a lot of power, and the penalty for not paying the dowry is imprisonment.

"The law says even if you decide to leave her, you will pay her gold that same day."

After working at the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting for several years, he married his childhood sweetheart.

"I would see her during my visits to my grandmother’s place in Gilgil and tell myself that one day, she would be mine," he said.

The news anchor also said Iranian men don’t like to see their women hanging out with Africans, and one can be killed for it. "I am very dark compared to their complexion," he said.

"They have some form of racism, where they gossip about you without knowing you also speak Persian. If the men from Iran see you with their women, they might kill you.

"You would enter a shop and hear them say to each other that 'midnight has arrived', even if it is 11am and you’re buying breakfast. It means a dark person has entered the room," he said.

He said the worst was a time he went to print a passport size photo and a client asked why the passport photo was white.

Swaleh said moving to NTV was the best decision for personal reasons. "Not because of what I am reading online. My salary and the little I get from my businesses is enough money for me. I am a professional journalist who has worked with international media entities," he said.