Originally published in the Sept 2012 issue of Destination Magazine
Interracial relationships are becoming more and more common in Kenya, but what’s changed to make them more accepted? Caitlin Nordahl looks at life for people in mixed couples – the hard, the impossible and the love that makes it all worth it
Meet the Parents
“When it was just me and her, the relationship was really good,” explains William, 30, “but with the external forces, her family, her friends, it became a bit awkward.”
William works in procurement for a major Kenyan company and met the woman he ended up loving when she was giving a presentation at his office. With immediate attraction on both sides, they started seeing each other and became something mostly alien to the Kenyan population, an African and Indian couple.
“Her folks never knew we dated, the whole year.” While they did meet him, he was always introduced as just a friend. While William didn’t want to pressure his girlfriend, he took her home to meet his family. This wasn’t the first interracial relationship he’d been in, and they didn’t have any issues with it. In fact, his sister got along with her really well, and when William was ready to “settle down” she helped him pick out the engagement ring.
But things didn’t work out as planned. A week before he was planning to propose, they went for a romantic weekend in Naivasha. On the way home, she surprisingly advised him, “I don’t think this is working.”
“I was like, ‘What’s wrong with the car?’” William says, explaining how unexpected the breakup was. While they spoke on the phone a few days later, those abrupt words were basically the end of the relationship.
“It sucks, it really sucks,” he says. “I know we are coming from different cultures. The whole point of me taking her home and introducing her to my friends was, you know, I’m with you not because you’re Indian, I’m with you because you’re an individual by yourself. There were things about her I liked and there were things about her I grew to love. So I was like, I hope you see me for more than the black that I am.”