Bill and Melinda split puts divorce in sharp focus

By Stephen Ndegwa
Thursday, May 6th, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
Bill and Melinda Gates at a past event. Photo/PD/FILE

The rich also cry, so states an over-used saying when referring to first world problems.

The sudden announcement of the divorce between Bill Gates and his wife Melinda on Tuesday seems to have caught everyone by surprise. It is simply a case of prominence.    

Divorce has been made easy in some societies. Western societies have found convenient legal ways of calling it quits when the union becomes untenable.

Islam has religious sanctioned channels out of cantankerous relationships. The African culture also had polygamy as a way of spreading the inevitable stresses of marriage.   

Therefore, those drawing parallels between Bill and Melinda with our own circumstances do not get it.

These are two different leagues worlds apart, running on a lane which we cannot overlap.

We cannot even start grasping the financial implications of the development simply due to the sheer numbers involved.

Divorce in the West is mainly a capitalist, gold digging affair. Oftentimes, those who marry into riches or get hitched to those with great potential have schemed what they will rake in when the deal is done. 

It does not matter what value they added in making the fortune, or even whether they were more of a liability in the union.

It is also big business as law firms and other divorce ‘service providers’ position themselves to make a killing. 

Divorce among the working and middle classes does not elicit much interest because there is no fortune to talk about.

In many cases, one party just wakes up and moves out. The biggest fight in this league is custody of the children and their support.

But make no mistake, it is also skewed against men. It is always the man’s fault, even when evidence points to the exact opposite.  

The Bill and Melinda split is set to replace the US$38 billion divorce between Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and wife MacKenzie Scott in 2019 as the most expensive in the world.

The latter catapulted Scott to the league of the richest women in the world. Some observers might see Melinda as having been inspired by this scenario owing to the likely pay out from the couple’s fortunes.

We cannot deny the fact that the divorce will not have some global reverberations.

Between them, the couple command billions of dollars’ worth in philanthropy stretching across various humanitarian concerns, including research funds for HIV and ongoing vaccine research for Covid-19.

The talk is revolving around how they will share funds in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The divorce also comes at a time when there is heightened focus on conspiracy theories that accuse the couple of diabolical plans to depopulate the earth mainly through the production and administration of vaccines.

They have also been accused of profiteering from the production of genetically modified foods through manipulation of both food and cash crops. 

Well, if there is an iota of truth in these allegations, the divorce might leak some pointers.

But their separation papers must surely have some watertight clauses to gag Melinda from publishing any incriminating information, presumably because women are prone to give tell-all-tales for either vengeance or commercial purposes, or both.

To give credit where it is due, the duo has parted ways amiably without unnecessary drama.

They have also been able to keep their marital problems out of the prying eyes of the nosy media, which has preserved their dignity and that of their children as well.

Ultimately, divorce is never an easy option when children are involved. Gates children are of course torn in between, most likely unable to choose who deserves their allegiance more.

Luckily though, they are all grown up and can live with separated parents as they are also out of the nest or the verge of flying off to independence. — The writer comments on international affairs