Wilberforce Saenyi Murunga who was granted a dowry refund from his in-laws by a Kitale court after a successful legal battle now wants to step into the shoes of the late Mzee Jackson Kiprotich Kibor’s role as ‘the Chairman of the Men’s Conference.’
The 52-year-old says he’s the only person who can ably represent issues affecting men, citing the successful pursuit of his dowry from his in-laws after a failed marriage as a perfect case study.
“I might be among the first Luhya men to have come out to declare before the public and court of law that I am man enough to demand my dowry back,” he told Nairobi News.
On Saturday at around 9.30 am, Mr Wilberforce Saenyi Murunga and his brother Fred Matumbayi walked to Kiungani at the Chief’s office in Baraton to pick up his three cows and a goat from his former in-laws.
It followed a divorce between him and his former wife, and a protracted court battle.
The dowry refund was made possible by a Kitale mediation Court which ordered that three cows, a she-goat, and Sh20, 000 be given back to Mr Murunga.
The animals will be transported to his village home in Chwele, Bungoma over the weekend for his Balunda clan to confirm.
For his marriage, Murunga had paid Sh50,000, three Ayrshire heifers, one cross Ayrshire bullock, one she-goat, one pair of gumboots, and a hat as bride price. That was on April 27, 2019, in Bungoma.
However, in the undersigned parties’ agreement, Mr Murunga forfeited one cow and Sh30, 000 as token of appreciation and the rest of the items.
“I am excited and happy that the court has done justice for me. Since the defender happens to be a lawyer I never thought I would win this case and I thank God.”
According to Murunga, many men are suffering in silence and they need someone to speak out for them. “So I would be the best suitable person to become the next Kibor,” he said.
Mzee Kibor died at the age of 88 on March 17, 2022 while receiving treatment at an Eldoret hotel after being diagnosed with kidney failure.
In February 6, 2020, the prominent businessman-cum-politician set new rules for men’s conference declaring that men should not send women transport to visit them-coined under “msitume fare” (don’t send fare).
Kibor announced that men who sent fare to ladies would not be allowed to address the members.
The demise of Mzee Kibor left a vacuum in the ‘men’s conference chairman’ slot, a popular following on social media platforms.
“Since Kibor was from Uasin Gishu, the seat should rotate and come to Luhya land. We can have a deputy either from Coast or North Eastern or the borders of our country,” Mr Murunga said.
Mr Murunga who had indicated that he would be going to the United States in May and is willing to represent both men in the country and the Diaspora.
He says when the Daily Nation highlighted his story demanding dowry refund, it ignited a public debate.
“My social media handles had over 2, 000 followers and the number keeps increasing each and every day,” he said.
According to Murunga, the huge following demonstrates that people are keen about justice.
According to Murunga, his ex-wife had told him that she would walk over the case, but his determination kept him going. “I believe everyone is equal before the law and it does not matter your status,” he said.
He said that his in laws were unable to give back all the animals and money due to the harsh economy.
“Now we are officially not husband and wife anymore. She is free to move on and likewise since the dowry has been refunded,” he explained.
He says his win in the dowry case shall be a win for all men. His message to men is that they should rally behind him and not to suffer in silence.
He says his only reason to seeking dowry refund is to disassociate with his ex-wife.
“Since I got divorce from court, it was in order to get my dowry back from my in-laws. Otherwise culturally, I would still be married to my ex-wife,” he stated.
Mr Murunga divorced from his wife Irine Khasoa on grounds that she had deserted their matrimonial home. The marriage was dissolved on October 12, 2021 by a Kitale court.
In court documents filed on December 6, 2021 when he started pursuing his dowry refund, he had said he had lived with his ex-wife for about one year and six months when she started deserting their matrimonial home on several occasions.
On April 14, 2022, a Kitale court referred the case to mediation. Chief Magistrate Julius Ng’arng’ar who handed the matter to a court mediator had indicated that if it was not successfully settled, it would go back to the court for a judgment.
“I have decided to refer this case to court-annexed mediation for possible settlement. I do not see anything difficult in resolving the matter. Let’s try this one first and in the event the matter is not settled then it will come back to me for judgment,” the magistrate had said.
Throughout the court appearances, Mr Murunga had insisted that it was his right to get back his dowry, arguing that he was representing men who suffer in silence.
“I had issues with my ex-wife, like children. Customarily, if we had a son, that would be two cows and a girl that is one cow. So I demand what is mine and my black sweat,” he said.
Following, Mr Murunga has called on men suffering in silence to come out of their comfort zones and trust court for justice.
“When the case was referred to mediation, the mediator indicated that I deserve my share back,” he said.