In the age of hookup culture, millennials are increasingly shying away from marriage buoyed by evolving social trends. According to a study by Gallup, many young adults – especially women - are choosing to marry later in life. Many insist on the need to build careers and be more established, especially financially, before saying ‘I do’.
While this gamble is as fulfilling as being in a loving relationship, the search for an ideal soul mate, perfect life partner or that special someone can, in itself, be challenging to those who may be looking in middle age or beyond. There are, however, beautiful stories of politicians who like fine wine aged into love. Hit by cupid’s arrow, they glided down the aisle soon after assuming office.
Kijana Wamalwa's 2003 wedding to Yvonne Nambia, barely six months prior to his death, was dubbed by some as the grandest of post-independence Kenya. Triumphant following the sweeping entry of National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), the late Nambia was chauffeured to his side in a Ford vintage car.
The eighth vice-President was in good company courtesy of fellow NARC heavyweights – former President Mwai Kibaki, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and the entire Cabinet, among other dignitaries. Musikari Kombo was the best man while Wamalwa’s cousin, UNCTAD's seventh Secretary-General Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, was one of the groomsmen.
In May 2020, Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ngeno quit the bachelors club in style after he formally asked for Naiya Ntutu’s hand in marriage.
Flanked by Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter, MPs Oscar Sudi, Alfred Keter, Sabina Chege, and Wilson Sossion, Ngeno’s entourage - comprising two helicopters and top-of-the-range vehicles, made way for dowry negotiation at Livingstone ole Ntutu’s homestead in Narok County to a rousing welcome before the commencement of the custom rich ceremony.
The MP was asked to engage the family about dowry in five or ten years’ time, as per tradition.
“According to the Maasai tradition, we require a Sahiwal (fine for not “passing through the front door” to woo Naiya). As for dowry, we want the couple to go and establish their family first and prove they can keep their love alive. We can’t talk about dowry in five or ten years’ time,” said the family spokesperson, former Narok Senator Stephen ole Ntutu. They wedded later that year.
Senate Majority Chief Whip Irungu Kang’ata wedded his long-time girlfriend, Mary Wambui, at Gathinja Catholic Church in Kiharu Constituency, Murang’a in September 2018. Graced by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka, Senators; Kipchumba Murkomen and Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, as well as Peter Kenneth and Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria, among others, the wedding was, according to Kang’ata’s best man Isaac Mwaura, planned in just three weeks.
"It is rare for him to attend weddings,” said Kang’ata of President's Uhuru’s presence, “So I don't take that for granted.”
In November 2018, Samburu West MP Naisula Lesuuda strutted off the market on saying ‘I Do’ to the love of her life Robert Kiplagat in an invite-only, green and gold-themed wedding at ACK St. Phillips Lesirai, Samburu.
In attendance was Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and former Citizen TV anchor Jacque Maribe.
"Hearty congratulations to Samburu West MP, Hon. Naisula Lesuuda, on the auspicious occasion of her wedding today to Mr. Robert Kiplagat. I wish you happiness and God's blessings,” shared National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi in a message to the lovebirds.
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru said ‘I do’ to lawyer Kamotho Waiganjo in a colourful traditional wedding ceremony at Kiamugumo Primary School in July 2019. Also graced by President Uhuru, Raila Odinga, Senators, Governors, Cabinet Secretaries and MPs, the event was attended by thousands in sharp contrast to their ruracio earlier that year done in great secrecy.
“We have gotten many comments from people who think we are hiding our feelings for each other. We will have our ceremony in a public event to show people that we have nothing to hide,” responded Kamotho.
Opening up about their relationship, Governor Waiguru said they hit it off aboard a ferry on Likoni Channel in Mombasa.
“We have been best friends and partners for 10 years. Very little will change after the wedding,” she said.
Senator Isaac Mwaura’s wedding, which featured 2,500 guests, to longtime girlfriend, Nelius Mukami, in June 2015 was a classy affair. The two exchanged vows in an exclusive ceremony witnessed by, among others, Raila Odinga at Citam, Thika Road. Guests were thereafter treated to a grand reception at Evergreen Park, Kiambu.
President Uhuru later hosted the newlyweds at State House, Nairobi.
"We had our own security because when you are a public figure anything could happen, but the President's security detail was there as well since he was to attend the wedding. That evening we went to Windsor, where Raila's people were waiting... It was described as a glamourous wedding," Mwaura told Sunday Magazine.
In October 2020, Senator Susan Kihika’s ancestral home at Marmanet in Laikipia West was a beehive of activity as leaders, family and friends flocked for her dowry negotiation ceremony.
Led by Deputy President William Ruto, who represented the suitor Sam Mburu, the successful negotiations saw the Nakuru Senator ‘being taken’ by the businessman. Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, flanked by former CS Mwangi Kiunjuri, Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), represented the senator's family.
Langata MP Nixon Korir in February 2019 wedded lawyer Beryl Zoraima at the Karen Blixen Museum in Nairobi.
The youthful, first-time legislator walked down the aisle with Zoirama in an exquisite Saturday wedding graced by family and friends as well as the who’s who in the political and entertainment scene.
On September 29, 2018, Samburu North MP Alois Musa Lentoimaga was talk of town after he wedded his second wife, Jamila, in a traditional ceremony at his rural home. Taking to social media in protest, Lentoimaga’s first wife Raphaella Lento said she felt betrayed.
“I was hurt because he forced this on us. I don’t know much about the young woman, but she is a graduate. I also graduated from the University of Nairobi in 2015. Maybe Mzee chose her because I’m old school. Jamila who is to be my co-wife is 24 years old with a three-year-old kid. I have been faithful to my husband because of the vows we both took at the altar,” said Raphaella.
In a rejoinder, however, the second-time MP told the Nairobian, “Raphaella was not happy and ran away, but we have sorted out the matter with elders, that is why I’m still held up in Baragoi. I’ve done my things in the open unlike those who kill to clear their footprints (sic). There are many reasons for a man to make such a decision. Having many children can help in managing wealth. We are taking her complaint into account and I will take her to the United States for a 10-day tour so that she can relax.”
Obviously not a Kenyan, considering the list above, but worth a mention, former Mikumi MP - Professor Jay- married his long term girlfriend, Grace Mgonjo, in 2017 at St Joseph’s church in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania months into his five-year term.
The rapper turned politician’s reception at Mlimani city was a star-studded affair and featured a special performance by Bongo Flava heavyweight and Wasafi honcho, Diamond Platnumz.
"Namshukuru Mungu nimetimiza ahadi ya ndoa kwa mchumba wangu ambaye tumepitia mabonde na milima,’’ the Zali za Mentali star was quoted as saying.