The process of courtship and marriage in sub-Saharan Africa has changed remarkably. These changes, however, have received scant attention because recent research has focused on adolescent relationships' links to HIV/AIDS rather than to marriage. Drawing on detailed reports of 1,365 romantic and sexual partnerships from youths in Kisumu, Kenya, we found that marital aspirations, school enrolment, emotional attraction, pregnancy, and independence from kin are all predictors of getting engaged or married. Furthermore, though men and women are much more likely to marry partners they believe are sexually exclusive, men who have multiple partners are actually more likely to get married. By focusing on the contemporary process of marriage, this paper offers an alternative portrayal of premarital relationships in sub-Saharan Africa.
Journal of Marriage and Family (2010) 72 (1), 73-88 [DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2009.00684.x]