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The Evolving Family Set Ups

What is this that irks us about how diverse, different forms of families that we have and continue to emerge? Why do we continue to selectively choose the values that suit us and the community we come from, why do we continue to discriminate against part of the communities, families, groups of people because of the structure of their families?

Family means a lot more than we think, see and experience.  No one should be deprived from essential benefits because they are in a form of a relationship which some people disapprove. What does a family mean to you? Let us change the narrow meaning of a family. A family is not only a father, mother and a child. Families are evolving and its totally okay. We have seen single mother headed households, father headed households among others. Stop pressurising persons that they must be in the nuclear sort of structure.

Families are supposed to be this safest haven for all of us; whether you’re the father, mother or even the child. But for the longest time, Families have become sources of struggle, pain, abuse, neglect, disintegration, hate, violence. 

A Kenya human rights commission report published in 2011 indicated that 18 percent of lgbtq+ Kenyans had revealed their sexual orientation to their families; of these, 89 percent were subsequently disowned. Countless LGBTQ+ persons create chosen family when they are rejected by their family of origin or when wanting to create families that share their values, aspirations and love.

Laws and policies should be inclusive and embrace the fact that families are evolving and will continue to. Discriminative laws, structures, programs will continue to discriminate against other forms of families that would not appear as the typical structure that the society has “approved” Our laws should move away from the idea that there is one ideal family form and value all families as they exist. People should be at liberty to create family relationships with the people who provide us with the meaningful support that they need and deserve.

What does family mean to you? As the world celebrated The UN Day of the family on 15th May 2022 let us challenge the narrow meaning of family. My family has Single mothers, divorced parents, polygamous families, adopted children, sex workers, persons injecting drugs, people in rehab who we miss and wish them well, child headed households, LGBTQ+ members, Intersex children, relatives we took in from the HIV scourge, kids with different dads, surrogate mothers, Children born from IVF, Children born outside marriage and many other groups of people. Messy to you, well not to me, I value them all. We love them all and this should be embraced. This is the alternative, real and the African narrative of families.

Embracing different forms of family and their structure remains key to ensure no one feels discriminated for what life has to offer. Stop silencing the new, diverse and emerging families because of your perceived structure of what a family should be or look like. Our families and will continue to be diverse, stop invisibilising issues of the different forms of families within laws and policies. What are we really afraid of? What are these family values, community values that we continue to uphold that continue to leave people, groups, families out of the current system.

Groups that continue to push for the exclusion, discrimination of emerging families must be shut! I continue to urge you to embrace, nurture, the different, diverse emerging families, it could be within your family, yourself and your extended family

Alvin Mwangi

Youth Activist

Nairobi, Kenya

Twitter: @alvinmwangi254