Initiative to preach harmony ahead of the elections launched

Pastor Hodari Wagalla chairperson Intermarried Couples Nest (ICN). Picture File
Pastor Hodari Wagalla chairperson Intermarried Couples Nest (ICN). Picture File

A Nakuru pastor is fighting for the recognition of a 44th tribe in the country and its population captured in the subsequent national population census.

Pastor Wagalla pointed that the 44th tribe will constitute intermarried couples and their children.

The man of God started Intermarried Couples Nest (ICN) Organization to promote peaceful coexistence between tribes after the 2007-2008 post-election violence.

Pastor Wagalla was a victim of the post-election violence and was rejected by his family for marrying a woman from what they termed to be a ‘wrong’ tribe.

Wagalla was born at Kadiang’a, Upper Nyakach, Kisumu County and attended Bungumeri Primary School before heading to Onjiko Boys High School.

“After high school, I studied Counselling Psychology at Kenya Institute of Professional Counselling, a constituent of Egerton University,” Wagalla explained.

The organization was first formed in Nakuru by intermarried couples across Kenya in 2007 dubbed Inter-Tribal Marriage Association and Campaign Youths.

Clashes

In 2007, the group had 40 members but they were displaced following the 2007-2008 post-election violence which thwarted their activities.

“We rebranded to Intermarried Couples Nest in 2010 after the number of members increased.”

During the post-election violence, says Wagalla, most of the couples separated and others divorced due to negative ethnicity and tribal animosity.

“A couple comprising a Luo man and a Kikuyu woman were our members and had children together but the woman’s father came all the way from Nyeri and took away his daughter and grandchildren and left the man alone with nothing,” Wagalla recalled.

Another unfortunate scenario happened when a couple comprising a Kisii man and a Kikuyu woman were separated by parents.

“The woman was sent packing by her in-laws who branded her an outcast.”

Ethnicity

Pastor Hodari Wagalla with his family (wife) Janepher Nelima (son) Phinney George  (daughter) Darlene Harriet. Picture File

Pastor Hodari Wagalla with his family (wife) Janepher Nelima (son) Phinney George (daughter) Darlene Harriet. Picture File

After listening and seeing the effects of negative ethnicity, Wagalla utilized his psychology counselling knowledge to guide intermarried couples.

To start with, he married his Luhya girlfriend despite his family rejecting the relationship.

“I am a father of two with my first born son being 10 years old and our second born is a girl, he says.

“I have given my children two English names to avoid them being subjected to negative ethnicity.”

Although the children have African names, they have the option of choosing to use them when they grow up.

Inter-married couples should have the option of using   any language of their choice and there should be no preference if only to avoid conflict.

The Inter-Couples Network aims to address the plight of intermarried couples due to stigmatization by antagonistic tribalism.

It also cultivates national cohesion and integration through multicultural marriages, multi-ethnic parenthood and products of intermarried couples.

The idea has been welcomed by majority of intermarried couples.

Naomi Njeri who is married to a Luo points out that such a move will help in ethnic reconciliation.

“I am happily married with two children. Let us embrace each other regardless of our tribes,” she says.

Recognition

Wagalla says they will be going to court to demand recognition of their children who are neither considered by tribes of their mother or father.

“I have studied the national population census report but there has been only information about 42 tribes excluding the products from intermarried couples which is not unconstitutional,” says the Pastor.

He would like to see a society that does not demonise intermarriages citing everyone is created in God’s image.

As the General Election edge closer, Wagalla would want to see a situation where politicians to shun negative ethnicity and embrace everyone regardless of their tribe.