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Generational Changes in Marriage Patterns in the Central Province of Kenya, 1930-1990

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It is the argument of this paper, which compares the experiences and attitudes of three generations of Kikuyu women in Kenya, that the practices of female circumcision and polygyny, the payment of bridewealth, and the age of first marriage were all affected over the sixty year period of this study by a combination of changes in the material world and by the proselytization of Christian missionaries. Most of the women in the third generation, who were in their twenties in 1990, have abandoned female circumcision and all of them reject the idea of polygynous marriage. Most of them are attempting to construct a marriage arrangement that reflects their understanding of western Christian practice, but the marriage age is now much more fluid and marriage itself much less certain.

Affiliations: 1: Department of History, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Western Australia 6009, Australia


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