Woman-woman marriage: Meet the Kuria people of east Africa

The practice allows women who experience challenges with conceiving, to have a family and continue her lineage
Woman-woman marriage: Meet the Kuria people of east Africa

In terms of popularity, few ethnic groups come close to the Maasais in East Africa. Their vibrant culture and tradition, as well as their rural lifestyle, attracts curiosity from all over the world. 

However, the Kuria, another east African ethnic group with stunning history and neighboured by the Maasais, the Kalenjins, and the Luos, attracts just as much curiosity – the aspect of their culture that allows women marry women for non-romantic reasons.

The practice allows women who experience challenges with conceiving, to have a family that may ensure the continuation of her lineage. These sorts of unconsummated marriages are referred to as ‘Nyumba Ntobhu’, literally meaning ‘house of women’ in the native tongue.

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An older woman who possesses assets but is childless and fears that her property may fall into the wrong hands may marry a younger woman who will bear a child for her. The child, expected to be a son, would inherit her property ensuring the security of her lineage.

Similarly, Nyumba Ntobhu is becoming popular for women who seek to escape abusive relationships. However, the practice has received its fair share of disapproval. Critics say the arrangements of these woman-woman marriage unions remain lopsided, although it continues to be preferred by Kuria women.


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