Caroline Nanyange is 32, but marriage is the last thing on her mind. The photo of her two-year-old son, graces her phone screen, her sitting room wall and her purse.
“He is all I need. He is the love of my life,” she says of her Josh.
So why would a woman, whose appearance and character make men turn their heads in awe, shun marriage life? “Relationships are a lot of baggage,” the banker says, adding: “Besides, I am a happy single mum. Taking care of my son is not a problem.”
Unlike Nanyange who has a son to show for a relationship that some would consider close to a ‘complete traditional family,’ Stella Aloyo is not considering marriage or having a child at all.
At 28, Aloyo says her goal is to grow higher in her advertising career and enjoy the ‘freedom’ that comes with being single. “It’s not that I don’t like children. I do, but having a husband and children will just suffocate my career goals.”
Just like Aloyo and Nanyange, several men and women today increasingly find reason not to get into marriage, a trend elaborated in the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) 2011.
Dr Maud Kamatenesi –Mugisha of Makerere University, although speaking in a personal capacity, says most women choose to remain single after giving birth early and especially, when the father of the child abandons them.
She explains that in western Uganda where she hails from, when a teenager conceives, she is regarded as “crap” and will most likely fail to get married in future because “their self-esteem goes down”.
Dr Kamatenesi–Mugisha, however, says the situation is slightly different if the girl goes back to school and becomes self-reliant.
She adds that some women are single because “they waited for the right man who never came”. This trend, she says, is common among the elite.
Dr Euzobia Mugisha Baine of Makerere University Gender Mainstreaming department, also speaking in a personal capacity, says most men are reluctant to commit to marriage because they “benefit more from cohabiting when the relationship does not work out”.
The situation, among men, is not any different, with men choosing to remain single or ‘in an open relationship”.
Agnes Achieng, a student, believes that men choose to stay single because they do not want to face the responsibility of taking care of families or foot the marriage bills.
“An ‘open relationship’ therefore makes a man have a partner but with others on the side,” she says, adding that commitment is difficult in an ‘open relationship’.
However, Michael E. Omoya, a communicator, says the commercialisation of marriage and general unfaithfulness among men and women, makes it increasingly difficult for people to commit. “The belief has been that men cheat, but women also cheat a lot these days, even married ones.”
Mr Brian Bwesigye, an assistant lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at Makerere University, has a different view: “Being single is an inadvertent protest against society’s overbearing institutions such as marriage. It is part questioning the justification of marriage and part statement that an individual can exist outside society-imposed institutions.”
Mr Johnson Omara, a child rights activist, says some men choose to remain single after several failed relationships, that were characterised by mistrust and maltreatment.
In light of the above, some men have decided to remain single or cohabit.