Yesterday, a sunny Easter Monday morning. Excitement is rife at the Christian Foundation Fellowship Church, Baricho Road, Nairobi as couples wait solemnly to tie the knot in a mass wedding.
There are nearly as many people standing as those seated, with curiosity more than relations, ramping up the spectator numbers.
But of the 40 couples waiting solemnly to wed before archbishop Harrison Ng’ang’a, one, Peter Mbugua and Ann Wangari, stole the limelight.
Mbugua became an instant media sensation when he married a former freedom fighter, Wambui Otieno, in a civil wedding ceremony at the Registrar of Marriages, Sheria House, in July 2003.
It was no ordinary union, but one that defied the norm and traditions with the husband then being 26 and bride 67.
The two are said to have fallen in love after Mbugua, who worked as a mason, assisted the ailing Wambui up the stairs to her bedroom in the evenings after work.
And after enduring a highly controversial eight years in which Mbugua was labelled a gold digger and accused of causing the death of his mother, the two renewed their vows at St Andrews Church in Nairobi.
The ceremony had been planned earlier, but Mrs Mbugua’s illness had often stood in the way, Rev Geoffrey Gathairu told friends and family at the church.
Wambui, then 75 and on a wheelchair at the ceremony, sang praises for her then 35-year-old hubby: “I love Mbugua because he has taken care of me for the last 10 years, even in my condition.”
Six months after the wedding, she succumbed to her illness ushering her widower into a protracted battle and found himself kicked out of their matrimonial home by his stepchildren.
And yesterday, Mbugua, 45, in a dark blue fitting suit, white shirt, floral blue tie and black shoes walked down the aisle, Wangari 35, by his side. A colourful reception followed at Mbugua’s home in Milimani estate, Kitengela with thousands of guest in attendance.
Mbugua said he had been dating his new bride for a while since the death of Wambui and are blessed with three children.
Conspicuously missing at the ceremony, however, were Wambui’s relatives even as the groom told People Daily he was in good terms with the family after the long court battle.
He said they have since resolved their differences, terming Wambui’s death “the toughest moment of my life”. “I had to undergo a lot of counselling as I was mentally disturbed and confused, especially the first year after her demise,” he said.
He is optimistic of now visiting his late wife’s grave for the first time after being barred from doing so by her family, who accused him of preying on their wealthy and aged mother.
“Marriage should not be defined by age, but how well you can blend with someone and share unending love,” he said, attributing rampant domestic violence to people marrying the wrong partners to please the public.
Mbugua said he has obtained justice at the courts urging the need to legalise marriages to help resolve family disputes.