Ethnically mixed Kenyan couples share how election puts strain on their relationships

Ethnically mixed Kenyan couples share how election puts strain on their relationships

- The Kenyan election has complicated the lives of ethnically mixed couples

- Some have moved to "safe" areas as a precaution

- They say perceptions of which parties they support are sometimes wrong

With memories of the 2007/2008 post-election violence fresh on their minds, several ethnically mixed Kenyan couples have shared how the election has complicated their lives.

Speaking to the BBC, one couple, Naomi Wangui and Malaki Samson, said their daughter shocked them by asking. "Mommy, do you hate Raila or Uhuru?"

Naomi said the fact that their daughter used the word "hate" took them by surprise. She attributed it to media election coverage.

Naomi Wangui and Malaki Samson. Photo: BBC

Naomi Wangui and Malaki Samson. Photo: BBC

Malaki (Luhya) and Naomi (Kikuyu) live in Nairobi's Kinoo area, which is dominated by the Kikuyu ethnic group. Malaki brushed off concerns by his family over his safety and refused to relocate.

Another couple however moved to a "safe" area as a precautionary measure. Manuel Mikewa (Luo) and Elizabeth Njeri (Kikuyu) live in Muthaiga. However, they moved temporarily to Kileleshwa.

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George Obiero and Millicent Wanjiru. Photo: BBC

George Obiero and Millicent Wanjiru. Photo: BBC

They said perceptions are strong that people automatically support candidates or parties from their ethnic groups, something that is not necessarily true. However, it is better to be safe than sorry, they said.

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George Obiero (Luo) and Millicent Wanjiru (Kikuyu), who have been married for eight years and toshave two children, shared the same sentiments.

Manuel Mikewa, Elizabeth Njeri and their children. Photo: BBC

Manuel Mikewa, Elizabeth Njeri and their children. Photo: BBC

George said: "This is the most challenging time for mixed ethnicity couples because we suddenly find that our relationships are exposed to the negative effects of ethnic political competition."

The couples are hopeful that the election will pass without violence.

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