Q&A – 30 March 2015

Perusing my fathers Will

My father died in Dar es Salaam about 10 years ago and my brother was the executor. He tells me that my father did not leave anything for me, which I am fine with, but I would like to see the original Will. Is there a way I can get a copy? My brother says he doesn’t have the original.
TY, Dar

Very few people know this but the original Will which is attached to the petition for the grant of probate is not surrendered to the executor but remains deposited and preserved at the High Court and is open to inspection. We suggest you contact the registrar at the High Court of Tanzania, if that is where the probate was granted from.

Definition of marriage

My parents want me to get married but I am trying to still figure out what marriage is? I have searched the net for this but find it confusing. Can I marry more than one wife? Can my wife marry more than one husband? Is this an exclusive relationship? Is it true that the minimum age at which a girl can get married is 14 years in Tanzania? Why should I get married? I am confused, please help.
GT, Dar

Since you are resident in Tanzania and we assume will likely get married here, you will be bound by the Law of Marriage Act of 1971 which has defined marriage in section 9 as (l) Marriage means the voluntary union of a man and a woman, intended to last for their joint lives. (2) A monogamous marriage is a union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. (3) A polygamous marriage is a union in which the husband may during the subsistence, of the marriage be married to or marry another woman or women.

This law clearly recognizes both a monogamous marriage and a polygamous one. Section 10 states that (1) Marriages shall be of two kinds, that is to say (a) those that are monogamous or are intended to be monogamous; (b) those that are polygamous or are potentially polygamous. (2) A marriage contracted in Tanganyika, whether contracted before or after the commencement of this Act, shall (a) if contracted in Islamic form or according to rites recognized by customary law in Tanganyika, be presumed, unless the contrary is proved, to be polygamous or potentially polygamous; and (b) in any other case, be presumed to be monogamous, unless the contrary is proved.

Either type of marriage maybe converted into the other type. Section 11 states that (1) A marriage contracted in Tanganyika may be converted (a) from monogamous to potentially polygamous; or (b) if the husband has one, wife only, from potentially polygamous to monogamous, by a declaration made by the husband and the wife, that they each, of their own free will, agree to the conversion. (2) A declaration under subsection (1) shall be made in the presence of a Judge, a resident magistrate or a district magistrate and shall be recorded in writing, signed by the husband and the wife and the person before whom it is made, at the time of making. (3) The Judge or magistrate before whom a declaration is made under this section shall forthwith transmit a copy thereof to the Registrar-General. (4) No marriage shall be converted from monogamous to potentially polygamous or from potentially polygamous to monogamous otherwise than by a declaration made under this section.
You will note that for conversion of a marriage from one form to the other, both parties must agree to do so.

Lastly we must state that the law in section 11(5) disallows any form of polygamy between Christians and states that no marriage between two Christians which was celebrated in a church in Christian form may, for so long as both the parties continue to profess the Christian faith, be converted from monogamous to polygamous and the provisions of this section shall not apply to any such marriage, notwithstanding that the marriage was preceded or succeeded by a ceremony of marriage between the same parties in civil form or any other form.

As for the minimum age, it is true that a girl aged 14 can get married under our law, but by first getting leave of the Court. This is addressed in section 13 of the act which states that (1) No person shall marry who, being male, has not attained the apparent age of eighteen years or, being female, has not attained the apparent age of fifteen years. (2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1), the court shall, in its discretion, have power, on application, to give leave for a marriage where the parties are, or either of them is, below the ages prescribed in subsection (1) if- (a) each party has attained the age of fourteen years; and (b) the court is satisfied that there are special circumstances which make the proposed marriage desirable. (3) A person who has not attained the apparent age of eighteen years or fifteen years, as the case may be, and in respect of whom the leave of the court has not been obtained under subsection (2), shall be said to be below the minimum age for marriage.

Therefore the law allows a girl aged 15 to get married whereas a girl of 14 years requires special leave from the Court. This law has been criticized for decades now and despite several promises made has not been changed to date.
We are unfortunately not qualified to answer your question on why you should get married. The law does not force you to get married and you do so at your free will. We recommend you meet some counsellors who can guide you on this.