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Jeniffer Njeri Gachanji & 2 Others V Purity Wamwirua Gachanji & 2 Others [2013] eKLR

Case Number: Civil Case 85 of 2003 Date Delivered: 11 Oct 2013

Judge: Anthony Ombwayo

Court: High Court at Nyeri

Parties: Jeniffer Njeri Gachanji, Samuel Wanjohi Gachanji & Charles Mureithi Gachanji v Purity Wamwirua Gachanji, Peterson Muriu Gachanji & Alfred Mwaniki Gachanji

Citation: Jeniffer Njeri Gachanji & 2 Others V Purity Wamwirua Gachanji & 2 Others [2013] eKLR

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Bianca Kabura Mwangi V James Kinuthia Mwangi [2013] eKLR

Case Number: E.L.C. 112 of 2013 Date Delivered: 11 Oct 2013

Judge: Anthony Ombwayo

Court: High Court at Nyeri

Parties: Bianca Kabura Mwangi v James Kinuthia Mwangi

Citation: Bianca Kabura Mwangi V James Kinuthia Mwangi [2013] eKLR

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Joseph Kamau V Republic [2013] eKLR

Case Number: Criminal Appeal Nai 215 of 2008 Date Delivered: 11 Oct 2013

Judge: Roselyn Naliaka Nambuye, Daniel Kiio Musinga, Stephen Gatembu Kairu

Court: Court of Appeal at Nairobi

Parties: Joseph Kamau v Republic

Citation: Joseph Kamau V Republic [2013] eKLR

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Republic V Chairman Suneka Land Disputes Tribunal & 3 Others Ex-parte Dominic Maangu Nyabwengi & Another [2013] eKLR

Case Number: E & L Misc. Civil Application 105 of 2011 Date Delivered: 11 Oct 2013

Judge: Samson Odhiambo Okong'o

Court: High Court at Kisii

Parties: Republic v Chairman Suneka Land Disputes Tribunal, Land Registrar, Kisiil, Chief Magistrate, Kisii & Attorney General Ex-parte Dominic Maangu Nyabwengi & Charles Mauta Maangi

Citation: Republic V Chairman Suneka Land Disputes Tribunal & 3 Others Ex-parte Dominic Maangu Nyabwengi & Another [2013] eKLR

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Moses Hannington Ambani V Somak Travel Limited [2013] eKLR

Case Number: Cause 112 of 2013 Date Delivered: 11 Oct 2013

Judge: Stephen Radido Okiyo

Court: Industrial Court at Mombasa

Parties: Moses Hannington Ambani v Somak Travel Limited

Citation: Moses Hannington Ambani V Somak Travel Limited [2013] eKLR

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E S A V D J D [2013] eKLR

Case Number: Divorce Cause 53 of 2012 Date Delivered: 11 Oct 2013

Judge: Maureen Akinyi Odero

Court: High Court at Mombasa

Parties: E S A v D J D

Citation: E S A V D J D [2013] eKLR

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Eliud Maina Mwangi V Margaret Wanjiru Gachangi [2013] eKLR

Case Number: Civil Appeal 281 (A) of 2003 Date Delivered: 11 Oct 2013

Judge: Roselyn Naliaka Nambuye, Wanjiru Karanja, Kathurima M'inoti

Court: Court of Appeal at Nairobi

Parties: Eliud Maina Mwangi v Margaret Wanjiru Gachangi

Citation: Eliud Maina Mwangi V Margaret Wanjiru Gachangi [2013] eKLR

 

Cases:
East Africa;
1. Atemo v Imujaro, [2003] KLR 435- (Mentioned)
2. Gituanja v Gituanja [1983] KLR 575 – (Expalined
3. In Re Estate of Priscilla Nduta Gitwande Succession No 616 of 1997 – (Explained)
4. Kaittany, Sakina Sote & another v Mary Wamaitha Court of Appeal No 108 of 1995 – (Mentioned)
5. Kanyi v Muthiora, (1984) KLR 712 – (Mentioned)
6. Kanyuira, Johnson Ndegwa & others v Nyambura Maina & others Court of Appeal No 145 of 2002 – (Mentioned)
7. Karanja Kariuki v Kariuki, (1983) KLR 209- (Mentioned)
8. Katam, Monica Jesang v Jackson Chepkwony & another High Court Succession Cause No 212 of 2010
9. Kimani v Gikanga, (1965) EA 735 – (Explained)
10. Mbugua, Millicent Njeri v Alice Wambui Wainaina No 50 of 2003 – (Explained)
11. Njuguna v Njuguna (1984) KLR, 527 – (Mentioned)
12. Selle & another v Associated Motor Boat Company Ltd & others [1968] EA 123 – (Explained)
13. Wairimu, Zipporah v Paul Muchemi, High Court Civil Suit No 1880 of 1970 – (Explained)
Statutes:
East Africa;
1. Probate and Administration Rules (cap 160 Sub Leg) rules 64
2. Evidence Act, (cap 80) section 51, 52(2);
3. Succession Act (Cap 160) section 29
Text and Journal
1. Cotran, E.,(Ed) (1968) Restatement of African Law: Law of Marriage and Divorce London: Sweet & Maxwell vol 1 p 13
2. Kenyatta, J., (Ed) (1962) Facing Mount Kenya USA: Vintage
 

 

The existence of a valid kikuyu woman-to-woman marriage is dependent on proof that the requisite ceremonies took place.

 

Eliud Maina Mwangi v Margaret Wanjiru Gachangi

Court of Appeal at Nairobi

Civil Appeal No. 281A of 2003

R. N. Nambuye, W. Karanja, K. M’inoti JJA,

October 11, 2013

Reported by Emma Kinya Mwobobia and Obura Paul Michael

 

Brief facts

This appeal relates to the Estate of Keziah Wanjiru Kahiga (deceased) who died in 1993. The central question was whether the respondent, Margaret Wanjiru Gachangi, was married to the late Keziah Wanjiru Kahiga in a woman-to-woman marriage under Kikuyu customary law to entitle her to a grant of letters of administration of the estate of the deceased and to inherit the deceased’s property.

Both Keziah Wanjiru Kahiga and Margaret Wanjiru Gachangi were previously married with husbands who predeceased them. Keziah had no children with her husband while the Margaret had four children with her husband.

When the Keziah’s husband died, Margaret moved with her four children into Keziah’s house where they lived till the time she died.

Upon the deceased’s death, the respondent and her brother jointly applied for grant of letters of administration, which was granted and confirmed by the High Court on the basis that she was the widow to the deceased. She had also listed her four children as beneficiaries.

The appellant on the other hand was the deceased’s brother-in-law, who applied for summons of revocation of the grant but was dismissed by the same High Court.

 

Issues

  1. Whether the respondent’s claim for woman-to-woman marriage was valid under Kikuyu customary law.
  2. Whether the respondent’s children qualified as dependants of the deceased.
  3. Whether the trial judge erred in law in not revoking or annulling the grant of representation issued to the respondent.

 

Customary law- customary marriage- kikuyu customary marriage- kikuyu woman to woman marriage- burden of proof of such marriage- where the respondent moved in with the deceased after her husband’s death- where she had children prior to the alleged marriage- where she was dependent to the deceased immediately prior to her death- where she claimed to have performed all ceremonies required in such marriages- where she only brought in one witness who was not even the deceased’s relative or a clan member- whether there existed a woman to woman marriage in such circumstances- Evidence Act, sections 51,52

Law of succession- child dependants- child dependants in a woman to woman marriage- what qualifies a child dependant in a woman to woman marriage- where the respondent’s children were born before the subsistence of the purported marriage- where the respondent moved in with her children to the deceased’s home after the death of the deceased’s husband- where the respondent’s children were dependent on the deceased immediately prior to her death- whether the respondent’s children qualified as dependants of the deceased in the circumstances- Law of Succession Act, section 29- Probate and Administration Rules, rule 64

 

Words and phrases: General custom- rights common to any considerable class of persons.

Rule 64 of the Probate and Administration Rules provided:

“Where during the hearing of any cause or matter any party desires to provide evidence as to the application or effect of African customary law he may do so by the production of oral evidence or by reference to any recognized treatise or other publication dealing with the subject, notwithstanding that the author or writer thereof shall be living and shall not be available for cross- examination.”

 

Held

  1. The existence of a woman-to-woman marriage was a matter of fact which was to be proved with evidence. Under section 51 of the Evidence Act, opinions of persons who were likely to know of the existence of any general custom or right were admissible where the court was required to form an opinion of the existence of such custom or right.
  2. Kikuyu customary marriages involved elaborate rites and ceremonies. The essential steps and ceremonies must be performed, irrespective of the form in which they are performed. The following procedures, rites and ceremonies were involved in a typical woman-to-woman marriage:
  1. A proposal is conveyed to the girl.
  2. Girl’s parents are invited to the home of the prospective husband to partake in the njohi ya njurio, the beer of asking the girl’s hand.
  3. First installment of the ruracio is taken to the girl’s father. Further Installments follow until a sufficient amount has been offered and accepted.
  4. A day is then fixed for the engagement ceremony ngurario i.e the pouring out of the blood of unity.
  5. A ram ngoima ya ngurario is slaughtered and girl eats kidneys as a sign of consent to the betrothal.
  6. The ngurario is followed by a further ceremonial feast guthinja ngoima. This feast is attended by members of the parties’ clans.
  1. Where a husband died leaving a childless widow, who was past childbearing age, the widow may marry a wife. The widow pays ruracio to the family of the woman selected, and arranges for a man from her deceased husband’s age set to have intercourse with her. Children resulting from such intercourse would be regarded as the children of the widow’s deceased husband.
  2. No marriage would be valid unless the ngurario ram was slaughtered and that there could be no valid marriage under Kikuyu law unless a part of the ruracio has been paid.
  3. From the respondent’s evidence, it occurred that one of her witness was not related to the deceased or even from the same clan but was merely from the same village as the deceased. There was also non-involvement of the deceased’s relatives or members of her clan in the purported marriage ceremonies.
  4. The respondent only brought one witness to support her cause. Under the Evidence Act, the matter in issue could be proved by a single witness.  However, since the central dispute was whether a valid Kikuyu customary woman-to-woman marriage was contracted between the deceased and the respondent, it would have been expected that more of the alleged participants in those essential ceremonies would be called as witnesses.
  5. The purpose of customary woman-to-woman marriage was to preserve and perpetuate clans and their lineages. What was presented in this appeal was not such preservation, but rather, the translocation of the entire family of the respondent into the deceased’s clan. It was more of a mass adoption of the respondent’s family rather than a customary woman-to-woman marriage.
  6. The respondent failed to prove that she had contracted a valid kikuyu woman-to-woman marriage with the deceased.
  7. There was evidence that the deceased had taken the respondent’s children into her family as her own children within the meaning of section 29 of the Law of Succession Act and was maintaining them immediately prior to her death.

 

Orders

The order of the High Court dismissing the appellant’s summons for revocation of grant was set aside and substituted for an order allowing the summons for revocation or annulment of the grant, to pave way for the respondent and her children to file, if they so wished, an appropriate application before the High Court as dependants of the deceased. It would also provide an opportunity for the appellant to be heard.

Each party to bear its own costs.

 

Publications relied on:

Dr. Cotran- Restatement of African Law: Kenya Vol 1

The Law on Marriage and Divorce, Sweet & Maxwell, 1968

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Samson Gitau Muiruri V Muiruri Mbaci [2013] eKLR

Case Number: Civil Case 196 of 2011 Date Delivered: 11 Oct 2013

Judge: Anthony Ombwayo

Court: High Court at Nyeri

Parties: Samson Gitau Muiruri v Muiruri Mbaci

Citation: Samson Gitau Muiruri V Muiruri Mbaci [2013] eKLR

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Akamba Public Road Services Limited V Tabitha Kerubo Omambia [2013] eKLR

Case Number: Civil Appeal 89 of 2010 Date Delivered: 11 Oct 2013

Judge: John walter Onyango Otieno, Festus Azangalala, Sankale Ole Kantai

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Parties: Akamba Public Road Services Limited v Tabitha Kerubo Omambia

Citation: Akamba Public Road Services Limited V Tabitha Kerubo Omambia [2013] eKLR

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Case Number: Cause 40 of 2012 Date Delivered: 11 Oct 2013

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Citation: Ismail Hassan Abdullahi V Kenya Ports Authority [2013] eKLR

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Case Number: Criminal Appeal 365 of 2010 Date Delivered: 11 Oct 2013

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Case Number: E & L JUDICIAL REVIEW 8 OF 2012 Date Delivered: 11 Oct 2013

Judge: Samson Odhiambo Okong'o

Court: High Court at Kisii

Parties: Republic v Land Disputes Tribunal Board Marani District & Chief Magistrate’s Court At Kisii Ex-Parte Lawrence Mironga Bichange & Joseph Oindi Getonto

Citation: Republic V Land Disputes Tribunal Board Marani District & Another Ex-Parte Lawrence Mironga Bichange & Another

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Case Number: Cause 50 of 2012 Date Delivered: 11 Oct 2013

Judge: Stephen Radido Okiyo

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Citation: Mary Mutanu Mwendwa V Ayuda Ninos De Africa-Kenya (Anidan K [2013] eKLR

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Case Number: Adoption Cause 21 of 2013 (Os) Date Delivered: 10 Oct 2013

Judge: William Musya Musyoka

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Parties: In Re BABY S J [minor]

Citation: In Re BABY S J [minor] [2013] eKLR

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Case Number: Succession Cause 2314 of 2010 Date Delivered: 10 Oct 2013

Judge: William Musya Musyoka

Court: High Court at Nairobi (Milimani Law Courts)

Parties: In Re the Estate of Cecilia Wanjiku Ndung’u

Citation: In Re The Estate Of Cecilia Wanjiku Ndung’u (Deceased) [2013] eKLR

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Case Number: Civil Case 9 of 2012 Date Delivered: 10 Oct 2013

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Citation: Zacccheaus Gitonga Turuchiu V Kenneth Kirimi Kaburu [2013] eKLR

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Case Number: Miscellaneous Civil Application 308 of 2008 Date Delivered: 10 Oct 2013

Judge: George Vincent Odunga

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Parties: In the Matter of an Application By Salt Manufacturers for Orders of Mandamus

Citation: In The Matter Of An Application By Salt Manufacturers For Orders Of Mandamus

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Case Number: E&L 280 of 2012 Date Delivered: 10 Oct 2013

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Judge: George Matatia Abaleka Dulu, Said Juma Chitembwe

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Case Number: Adoption Cause 115 of 2011 Date Delivered: 08 Oct 2013

Judge: Luka Kiprotich Kimaru

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V S G V B V

Case Number: Divorce Cause 182 of 2011 Date Delivered: 08 Oct 2013

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B G P V K B B [2013] eKLR

Case Number: Divorce Cause 63 of 2011 Date Delivered: 08 Oct 2013

Judge: Luka Kiprotich Kimaru

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