Have you ever thought of the expectations that come with marriage? Women adopting their husband’s surname soon after marriage among other expectations brings out question of whether women should change their names, what is the right process to follow and what are the pros and cons of changing names.
Maria Lembeli,44, is a mother of three children and works as the communication official in one of the public offices in the city. Before she got married she used her father’s name and never had an idea of changing it until she got into a relationship.
She says she never thought changing of name is something that will ever happen in her life as she saw it as a bad practice that changes one’s identity.
“I grew up in a family that required us to work hard at school and while at home supporting our parents with family chores. My father told me that was the only way of becoming responsible adults who will in future honour his name,” says Maria.
Maria has been married for nine years now. A week after her marriage, her husband brought up the idea of her changing her name to his. She thought it is something light and never paid attention to it until her husband requested a special meeting with her just to discuss the matter three months after their marriage.
According to Maria, they later agreed on changing her name however it was a decision she made just to make her husband happy but she never liked it. They went to the court and started a process that only took them hardly four days and her name was officially changed.
Asumpta Gumbo* 36, is a mother of one child and was divorced five years ago. She regrets her decision to change her surname as things changed and they had to divorce.
“I was more than happy to change my name. As soon as we got married, we started the process and I submitted to the court documentation that also led to me changing my name officially. Five years later things changed and we divorced. There is a chance of changing my name again but I see no point as most of my documents and even professional credentials have the same name,” says Asumpta.
Adding to that she says, her ex husband is a well know person in the city. Majority of people doesn’t know about their divorce. So in most cases, people still ask her about her former husband.
She says, in the beginning she did it out of love and felt more confident about it. But when things changed, she felt embarrassed and sometimes get depressed as it reminds her of bad memories of her marriage.
Commenting on the matter, Reverend Aidan Mbulininge of St Peters Church in Dar es Salaam said the concept of a woman taking her husband’s name is not a biblical concept. Majority of women and people in the Bible were referred by where they came from.
He says, it is a culture that developed from Western world and majority of women in the country adopted the concept as well. So if a woman choose not to adopt her husband’s name after marriage, the church is not in a position to say anything about it.
“The church understands about the concept of adopting husband’s names for women. But since it is not biblical and the Bible is silent about it and does not affect church operations, the clerics have no power to make decisions on that. As long as the couple agrees and they follow right steps, the decision remains theirs,” adds Mbulininge.
Advocate Fulgence Massawe,the Legal Counsel in charge at the Legal and Human Rights Centre says, majority of people do not have proper education on the right process to follow when a woman wants to change a name.
He says, in reality anyone has the right to use a name he or she wants to. In doing so one needs to sign a deed poll form to the magistrate and submit the form to the Ministry of Labour and Employment to the register of titles office for other processes.
It is a process that requires legal advice and has to be followed to make sure one has the right to use his or her new name as the official name. Even when things go wrong somewhere and needs to change, one has to follow the same process to get a new name or previous name.
The deed poll form costs Sh32,000 plus other costs that can take up to Sh150,000 to finalise the entire process. It is something that people like doing but in reality it has to follow the right process and not just change names from home.
Sebastian Liganga, 35, is a banker, a married man and a father of two children. He says he sees no point on why women should change their names after marriage as all of the important documents are in different names.
With him, his wife wanted to change her name but he never allowed her as he sees no point in it. He says she remains his wife even if she doesn’t change her name and will still have all rights as a wife.
“As a father I am proud to see my daughter using my name for the rest of her life. Having said so, I encourage fellow men to let their wives use their names as changing names changes nothing in the relationship,” says Liganga.
Adding to that he says, keeping real names gives parents courage to be proud of their daughters. Fathers are close to their daughters so it is a good idea to let a women use their father’s name even after marriage.
Other interviewed women on the matter revealed that, changing names is being done in the beginning when two people are still in love. As life goes on, things change and they later regret their decision to change names.
Selina Njuka, a third year student at the University of Dar es Salaam says she has no plans of changing her name even after marriage unless the husband is a big personality for instance a famous politician.
She says, big names make news and no woman will hesitate to use such a name. But being married by an ordinary person and changing name is not something she will accept.
“I will talk to a man who will propose when the right time comes. I will tell him in advance of my expectations in marriage and we will see how we can reach a compromise to avoid being forced to change my name after marriage,” says Selina.
Majority of men confirmed that they become proud and feel accepted when a woman adopts his name. It shows how a women is proud to be married to that man.