Social relations

These are relations that are found between different people in the society; at family, clan and community level. People are related to one another either by blood or through marriage.

Cultural activities

These are activities which members of a community do together as a group. They include festivals, ceremonies, games and sports.



Marriage takes place when a man officially unites with a woman to become husband and wife. Marriage can be conducted according to religious, customary or civil laws. There are two kinds of marriage.

  • Monogamous marriage: This is the most common kind of marriage today. It involves a man taking only one wife. If the spouse dies, then the husband or wife is free to take another partner.
  • Polygamous marriage: This is when a man has more than one wife. Under the Islamic law, polygamy is acceptable but is not a must. The Islamic law allows a man to have up to four wives at any one time.


Systems of Marriage

There are three systems of marriage in Kenya. They are:


1. Religious marriage: Conducted following different religious customs. Main religions in Kenya are Christianity, Islam and Hindu. Christian and Hindu marriages allow monogamous marriage only while Islamic marriages allow polygamous marriage up to four wives.


2. Civil marriage: Presided over by a representative of the Attorney General.


3. Customary marriage: Also known as traditional African marriage. This marriage is conducted in different ways according to the cultures of the different African communities. Many cultures practice polygamy and the husband is expected to treat all his wives equally.

A Christian Kenyan Wedding

A Kenyan Customary Wedding


Importance of the institution of marriage

Marriage is important because of the following reasons;

  • The husband and wife become companions to each other.
  • Marriage provides an opportunity for people to bear children. This continues the family tree after the parents die.
  • Through families, traditional values and culture are passed on from generation to generation.
  • Marriage provides identity to members of the family. This gives them a sense of belonging and self-esteem.
  • Marriage creates a family. Many families come together to form a clan, many clans form a community and eventually several communities form a nation. The family is the smallest unit of a nation.


Roles and Responsibilities of Spouses in a Marriage

  • In a marriage, each partner must be allowed to exercise his or her rights and freedoms that are allowed by the law.
  • Each partner needs love, support and protection from torture, cruelty and inhuman treatment.
  • To provide all the basic needs of the family.
  • Spouses should provide a peaceful and friendly home for the comfort of the children and all the other family members.
  • They should ensure that every member of the family is guaranteed the right to life regardless of age, gender, physical or mental ability.


Succession and Inheritance of Family Wealth

Succession means taking over responsibility, title or property after the owner dies or stops being the owner. In marriage, succession is taking possession of the property of a family member who has died or abandoned the property for one reason or the other.

In some traditional societies, when a man died, his property was taken over by his brother or close cousin. In some cases, they took over his debts too which they paid.

Inheritance also means succession.

The person who inherits property or a title is called the heir. Heirs in many societies were always men, but with the passing of the Succession Bill into law, girls are treated as equal members of the family who are allowed to inherit family property.

Some people write a will in which they make their wishes known. In this will, they name the person to inherit the property. However, some people go to court to contest the will if they think that such a will was not written freely and voluntarily.

If a person has not left a will, then the property is given to the person considered to be the rightful successor of the deceased, usually the wife or husband and children.

A will is a document written out and kept with a lawyer or close trusted friend, outlining how property should be shared out in the event the writer of the will passes on.