Laban Sabiti, a 29-year-old retail businessman from Bishayu Village, Ruhija Sub-county, Rubanda District, Uganda, as pictured above has been left stranded with five children, including a 13-month-old toddler.
Mr Sabiti was left stranded with the children after his father-in-law, Mr Geoffrey Kakona, a resident of Kirima Village, Bushuura parish in Kanungu District, allegedly reclaimed his daughter after Sabiti allegedly failed to settle bride price arrears totalling Shs6 million.
“I indeed delayed paying the bride price, but I had planned to do so in December of this year.” “I was surprised when my father-in-law came and took my wife, Ms Prize Twikirize, even though I had explained to him that I was willing to fulfil my traditional obligation,” Mr Sabiti, who has filed a case of child neglect with the police, says.
Mr Sabiti’s eldest child is ten years old, while the youngest is still nursing and enjoying the bonding experience
Mr Sabiti’s plight exemplifies the marginalization and weakening of young males planning to marry.
Mr Sabiti’s case, according to Ankole Kingdom Premier George William Katatumba, violated traditional norms because there was no recognized marriage.
“Sabiiti has to pay a fine because he has sired children, which usually consists of millet flour, a jerrycan of Tonto, a goat or sheep,” Mr Katatumba explains.
Mr Steven Tumwiine, a senior probation officer in Mbarara District, chimed in on the debate, claiming that the government had outlawed bride price.
“Dowry or bride price has been abolished under Ugandan law, and anyone over the age of 18 has the right to marry a man or woman of her or his choice. As a result, the old man [Ms Twikirize’s father] is violating his daughter’s rights. The old man is also violating his grandchildren’s rights by denying them the opportunity to have parents.”
The Constitutional Court, on the other hand, dismissed a Mifumi Ltd petition in 2017 in which the constitutionality of the bride price was challenged at first instance. The court ruled that “the in question marriage custom was not unconstitutional.”
Previously, in 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that refunding a bride price upon dissolution of a customary marriage is unconstitutional.