Television anchors Lulu Hassan and Rashid Abdalla made history as the first couple to be paired together in news a bulletin. The husband and wife team now anchor Citizen Nipashe Wikendi together.
Lulu took to social media to welcome her husband saying, “Meet my new partner in crime... karibu nyumbani” while Rashid posted a photo of them together captioned, “#sisemikitu ukipanda pantosha utavuna pankwisha.”
The move surprised Kenyans as most companies discourage couples from working together for myriad reasons, including bossing each other, promotions, earning power, jealousy, kuzoeana and bringing shida za boma to the workplace.
But there are more and more couples now reporting to the same employer. Think of a doctor who injects a co-worker nurse with love or a geography teacher who maps out the PE teacher for life.
John Allan Namu and Sheena Makena's love story started when they both worked at KTN. In an interview with Only Love on Ebru TV the couple now eight years married revealed that though they were family friends, their love blossomed when Namu went for internship at KTN where Makena was a “scary” editor who brooked no nonsense.
Namu was an investigative reporter and their lives jelled in the edit suit where “my stories would run late because we were talking and that sort of thing… that is basically was how we developed our relationship, it was sort a buildup and it reached an inflection point in 2008…” recalled Namu adding that at the work place, Makena was supportive of his work while retaining her “tough love approach” and “whenever I was foolish she would call me out.”
Sheena roped in adding that the nature of media was such that “we had long periods apart because of his work and I was trying to focus on living my life.”
Sheena got pregnant and the couple married in 2010 followed by a honeymoon in the Seychelles. They left KTN and now work at Africa Uncensored in their respective capacities.
Then there is Jenipher Naswa and Samson Ndiwa who work together at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret. Jenipher had been there as a permanent staffer for nine years before her hubby joined two years ago after applying through a newspaper advert.
Ndiwa is now the senior administrator at AMPATH Oncology and Hematology division on contractual basis. Jennifer works in a different department and before taking the job the couple figured their work dynamics.
“We looked at the benefits and the challenges if we worked together and the benefits were more. We reduced on the fuel cost because we share one car, we moved to a new house near our daughter’s school where we drop and pick her together and we use public means when one is held up.”
Ndiwa adds: “On special occasions I get to spoil her (Jennifer) because she is near and I know how her day was, we also plan our quality time together. In cases of family emergency I reach her quickly and arrangements are made fast on among us will handle it compared to when we worked in different organisations.”
Besides these benefits, the couple concur that working together is not for the faint of heart.
“The organisation is a public institution and as a couple you get more attention besides always being attacked with rumours of affairs and gossip,” says Ndiwa. “If you don’t trust you partner you might end up divorcing.”
He adds that “job security is another factor if two of us get fired at the same time and have to depend on our savings. When you partner is complaining about work related issues you want to do something but at the same time you have to follow the right channels to solve the problem,” said the couple.
They have also addressed issues regarding boredom and power struggles and for which she encourages the wife to excel since if she earned more “it is a benefit for the family and there is now power struggle. When we get to the office our days are already planned and we have so many responsibilities. Most of the time, I don’t get to see her until when we are going home,” says Ndiwa who spends his tea and lunch time with his colleagues.
But what does the Kenyan law say about couples working for the same company in view of couples who work together for the government?
Well, the Employment Act 2007 Section 5 prohibits discrimination as when during recruitment people are never interviewed or employed as a couple but as individuals making it difficult to force one to resign by dint of being married.
Besides marital status, employment cannot also be terminated on grounds of race, colour, tribe, religion, political persuasion, national extraction, nationality, social origin, HIV status or disability.
You can also not be fired simply because your boss hates you. But gross misconduct, poor performance, physical incapacity, retrenchment or participating in an illegal strike can send you packing.
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