Early this week, news emerged that the popular gospel artiste Peter Omwaka alias Guardian Angel had married his long-time love, Esther Musila, with whom he has a 20-year age gap.
Photos of the beaming pair, aged 52 and 32 years were officially released on social media on January 5 and it appeared to be an intimate and emotional affair that was every bit as elegant as the polished duo.
Fans and industry friends reacted with warmth and support for the newlyweds, who have had had to face criticism and scrutiny for their age difference when they first went public.
Taking to his official Instagram, Guardian shared an intense clip from the colourful ceremony, where he serenaded his bride as guests cheered and sang along.
“Sweetie, sweetie, haikuwa rahisi tufike leo, walisema mchana usiku wakalala na bado tunapendana na leo tunaoana,” Guardian sang in a deeply passionate moment.
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The Kiswahili lyrics interpret in part as, “although the journey has not been easy, they spoke about us, but we still love each other and today we get married.”
And fans think that this was a cryptic message by the artiste to naysayers.
“Congratulations to you both! Just beautiful!” media personality Joyce Omondi wrote in a comment on the post.
Gospel singer Emmy Kosgei responded with a string of fire emojis, celebrating the couple.
And when Guardian uploaded a photo of himself with his bride captioned “My wife,” congratulatory messages streamed in.
“He who finds a wife,” wrote gospel singer Kambua Mathu, referring to the popular Bible verse that speaks about how good it is for a man to find a wife.
“Congratulations,” wrote Reverend Lucy Natasha.
Previously, Guardian spoke out about the challenges he faced as an artiste on the rise and the instrumental role of Esther in his life and career while calling out questions about her being older than him.
“By the time I began speaking to Esther, when she wanted us to do a song together, I was giving up on music. But she came in and told me, ‘God’s work must continue,” Guardian told media personality Felix Adiwour, better known as Jalang’o, in a September 2020 interview.
He added: “All my ministry has been encouraged and pushed by the person that you think is the wrong person. If she had not come at that time, I would not be here, singing now. You do not know this person and why she is so regarded or respected like this in my life before you even utter a word.”
The concept of a wide age difference has been debated as a cultural issue over the years, with couples that have a wide gap often facing disapproval from society.
A 2018 study by Australian news agency The Conversation suggests that an age gap is usually wider in non-Western countries compared to their Western counterparts, noting that a majority of people opt for people their own age.
“About eight per cent of all married heterosexual couples can be classified as having a large age gap (10 years or more). These generally involve older men partnered with younger women. About one per cent of age-gap couples involve an older woman partnered with a younger man,” the piece, Mind the gap - Does age difference in relationships matter? reads in part.
The report adds that the idea that men prefer younger women while women desire older men has all to do with reproductive fitness.
What’s age got to do with it?
“Although men and women place importance on a partner who is warm and trustworthy, women place more importance on the status and resources of their male partner. This is largely because, with women being the child bearers, the investment is very high on their behalf (time and effort in childbearing and rearing). So they are attuned to looking for a partner who will also invest resources into a relationship and family,” the study adds.
Further, a 2010 research conducted by the American National Centre for Biotechnology information proposes that “having a younger spouse is beneficial for men, but detrimental for women while having a much older spouse is detrimental for both sexes”.
“The most common concept is homogamy or assortative mating, which presumes that people, predisposed through cultural conditioning, seek out and marry others like themselves. One assumption is that a greater age gap is associated with a higher marital instability,” the report, how does age gap between partners affect their survival? reads in part.
Guardian and Esther may have caused a stir over their love story and the age difference involved, but they are not the first prominently known couple to have had such circumstances in their union.
Popular social media personality, content creator and image consultant Catherine Kariuki, who goes by Fashionable Stepmum, and her wealthy husband, retired army Major Michael Kariuki have an 18-year age gap between them.
Catherine is reportedly 37, while Michael is 55. Speaking to a local station in 2018, the pair gushed about each other as they narrated how they run their blissfully blended family.
“One of the greatest things I have learned from Cathy, as much as she is a lot younger than me, is that she is not the type of lady who will go to bed angry, going without talking for days? Never. If you cross her lines you will have to deal with it that day, whether you like it or not,” Michael said as he shed light on how they resolve disputes in their marriage.
Catherine said the couple’s dynamic as a blended family requires a lot of honest and open communication while dealing with all emerging family issues.
Michael has four children from a previous marriage, while the two have two children together.
Another pair whose age gap has attracted public attention is musician Bahati and his social media celebrity turned rapper wife, Diana Marua.
Bahati and Diana are known for their flashy displays of affection not only on YouTube and on social media, but also in their music.
While theirs is only a two-year age difference, Diana is the older of the couple, making the two fall on the smaller, rarer side of the typical statistics where the woman is older.
Bahati has reiterated his love for Diana’s maturity time and again in the past, saying in a 2019 interview that he “has always wanted an older woman”.
“I am proud of my wife’s age, I always wanted an older woman, I matured up at the age of 12, growing up in the ghetto and I knew I would want a woman who would not stress me out,” Bahati said.
And on an episode of the YouTube reality series, Being Bahati in March 2019, Diana echoed her husband’s words, that their age difference does not affect their relationship.
“The comments are there, the DMs are there,” Diana said on groupies chasing after her husband.
“But at the end of the day, it is about trust. People look for everything to pull you down. Si kwa ubaya, lakini niangalie. Do I look like a shosho?” Diana posed to a girlfriend while out at dinner on the episode, praising her youthful good looks while insisting there is no way she would look old.
And they livedhappily ever after
Gospel singer Emmy Kosgei and her Nigerian pastor husband are another couple.
Emmy is 22 years younger than Revival Ministries leader, Anselm Madubuko.
The Taunet Lelel singer and her pastor beau held the wedding of the decade in 2013, sparing no expense as they celebrated their big day.
“He understands my music, he respects the people’s love for me and he has always supported me. And he has always given me the platform and opportunity to grow in my career,” the singer said lovingly of her husband in a 2016 interview with Nigerian magazine, The Sun.
And in an exclusive interview with The Standard in September last year, Kosgey said she still feels that she married the right person, one who appreciates and supports her as she chases her dreams.
“It is a privilege in life when you get married to the right person. In terms of destiny and everything, to me, it has been a plus. I think I am better in all spheres. I have grown spiritually and otherwise. He is a blessed man to have me. Kenyan women are very good. People do not know that, it is just that sometimes you underestimate us!” Kosgey said.
Counselling Psychologist Benjamin Zulu discourages lovers from marrying or being involved with each other seriously while below the age of 25 years.
“Maturity is the result of two processes. One - your age and two - your growing processes. You are mature when you have attained a certain age for your biology to be able to handle some things,” Zulu said in a 2020 interview.
He added: “Human relationships are not cast in stone. Any two people can work on their relationship, and it will work despite the age difference. The main concern should be what it will take and what it will mean for each party to live in such a relationship.”