Dating dates back to time immemorial when lovers used to type on rocks and sisal love messages. Back then it was a taboo being seen with somebody’s daughter and especially if both parents had not arranged for it.
Funny enough were bush dates or dates along river banks especially when she had gone to fetch water or look for firewood in a nearby bush. Most often men could alert their lovers with funny whistles or throwing stones all in the name of making their lovers to be aware of their presence.
“During our days, it was a taboo to be seen with a man if you had not been married” notes Linda, 88 years old from Bungoma.She further says that it attracted a severe punishment in case you were caught by your parents.
It is also worth noting that using the phrase “mrembo” could land you in a trouble because it was a reference to a commercial sex worker. John Ikhachi 80, from Vihiga says that he once went through hell after he called his crush.
“She became mad at me and even threatened to report me to her parents for calling her ‘mrembo’, he says.
He further adds that taking your lover out on a date in a hotel or a bar was a taboo that no young women in her senses could warrant such. “Dates were reserved along river banks and bushes and done in secrecy” he adds.
The perception was that taking out your lover was related to using money to lure her which was a common trend among women with questionable behaviors.
Local dances in villages were also meeting points organized by young men although parents monitored keenly as consent could be sought from them first. Parents by then trusted their sons and daughters because they had good morals and were responsible.
Unfortunately this trend has vanished slowly with the advent of western culture in African setting. This explains why nowadays young people find it no issue to hang around with someone’s daughter anyhow. Some girls have now gone to the extreme end of dating where they invite their boyfriends in their parents’ home in broad daylight.
“It is so funny that in present day young people have gone against the norms and parents have no says” notes Ikhachi.
Initially parents were instrumental in dating more than their sons or daughters. After identifying the potential suitor, parents (especially mothers) could visit the girl’s parents for negotiation. By then it was a taboo for a girl to propose for a guy to marry after which some issues were looked into before proceeding with marriage talks. In contrast to today parents are only notified of the mystery once things have gone limbo.It so sad those moments are no more but what we have are relationships that are hatched on social media and in most cases are short lived.