The Marriage Trap: Unveiling the Kigali Proposal

If you break it, you own it. And as many boyfriends have learnt to their chagrin once you get a girl pregnant, you better marry her or you’re dead! Or at least that is what they are warned. 

If you break it, you own it. And as many boyfriends have learnt to their chagrin once you get a girl pregnant, you better marry her or you’re dead! Or at least that is what they are warned. 

Often it seems that people are tricked into marriage after months or years of dating simply because children born out of wedlock are frowned upon and sometimes even disgraced. Couples are forced to  use marriage as a sort of ‘alibi’. Hence the ‘Kigali Proposal’.

If you don’t believe the Kigali Proposal is evident, then why are most healthy babies in Kigali born 4-6 months after the wedding? And we can’t eliminate the fact that there are some couples that go as far as saying that the baby was born premature.

According to 31-year-old Paul*, he got married to Grace* after dating for just four months. Despite his obvious love for his 5-months-old daughter, he feels that he was not ready for marriage.

“I love my daughter so much, but a year ago when Grace got pregnant, I was pushed by both our families to get married. Honestly speaking I was not yet ready. I had plans to get married one day, but not to rush into a marriage just because a woman is pregnant,” Paul says.

He adds that he married Grace when she was five months pregnant, due to his family’s attempt to save face. 

“I was ready to look after Grace and my daughter even though we were not married but both our families insisted that we get married. I can’t say that it has never crossed my mind that this is what Grace wanted.  Frankly, she got pregnant on purpose because the day she conceived she told me that it was safe. I fell for it because I trusted her. Little did I know that she had it planned all along,” Paul reveals.

He continues, “She planned it quite well. When I told her we couldn’t have a wedding because I didn’t have enough money for such a big occasion, she offered her savings. And with no way out, we got married.”

He also says that he overheard his friends saying that women will get pregnant just to get a ring on their finger, but he thought they were lies until it happened to him.

What religious leaders say

According to Emmanuel Ntayomba, a senior pastor at Healing Centre Remera, fornication is a sin.

“Getting married because of a pregnancy is usually not acceptable in our church and is considered a sin based on biblical teachings. A couple may lie and we marry them off when we don’t know. But when we realise that that is what happened, we advise them to repent,” Pastor Ntayomba discloses.

He says that marriage based on a lie never lasts.   

“We always advise the youth in our church to spend some time courting before they get married so as to know their future spouse better.  Quickening marriage because one is pregnant causes many problems in future. We advise the youth to always abstain until marriage. Sex is a gift from God to married couples so unmarried people have no business having sex,” Pastor Ntayombya emphasises.

He adds, “If a couple rushes into marriage because the woman is pregnant, there are high chances that there will be no trust in the relationship. The fact that you were sleeping together before you got married will raise suspicion every time one comes home late.  They will suspect that you are cheating on them.”

A woman’s story

While it’s known to be a woman thing, some men have also resorted to dirty little tricks to get the girl.

Amanda* has a friend whose boyfriend took issues to another level.

“My friend was dating this guy for three years, but as time went by, he grew weird and she got bored with the relationship. When the guy noticed things were not going his way, he decided to take matters into his own hands. First, he brought her some rare tablets claiming they where birth control pills but luckily she didn’t take them because she only used Postinor 2. Next, he decided to use the withdrawal method but only did it after he was sure some of his offspring were already in,” Amanda says while pausing to take in some air. 

It was evident by the way she snapped her fingers in protest that she had no kind words for the man.

It’s not our culture to have single mothers – Mzee Muherwa

According to 68-year-old Jacob Muherwa, shaming the family name isn’t an option. The tall, dark skinned man with the old amasunzu hair style is a father of four girls and three boys.

“Should a girl get pregnant, then the boy should take responsibility for the baby and that means marrying the girl. First of all, I wouldn’t want my daughter to be the girl that had a baby with some random man but again, it’s not our culture to have single mothers when the father of the baby still lives,” Muherwa says with an angry tone.

From the look on his face, if a guy ever got his daughter pregnant, he would marry her with no questions asked.

Unlike today, things were quite different in pre-colonial Rwanda. 91-year-old Mzee Ezra Mpyisi says back in the day, a girl would be drowned in Lake Muhazi.

“The girl wouldn’t be killed because she is hated but the vice was seen as a bad omen to the nation and killing her was believed to take the omen away,” Mpyisi says softly. 

“It was seen as a very bad act and the girl’s mother would also be branded careless. The girl’s brothers would also make the boy pay for his actions by paying with his life, though it was done secretly,” he emphasised.

As for Paul*, he has come to terms with the situation and is moving forward positively.

“Each day I grow to love my wife because our daughter strengthens the bond between us. When she is happy, we are all happy. The more I get to know Grace, the more l appreciate her,” Paul reveals.

Therefore, one can say that the Kigali Proposal is not just about treachery but that good things can come out of it too. This goes mainly to men who take forever to pop the question. At times they just need a slight push.  


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