Margery Kabuya had been married 27 years when her husband, Muito Kabuya, died in 2010. Never once had she imagined a life without him.
“We were very good friends. We used to laugh a lot, watch TV together, share and confide in each other. I looked at him more like a friend than a husband because then I would not ask myself how I should treat him as a husband and how he should treat me as a wife. If you look at your spouse as a friend, communication is easier and friendlier.Our marriage worked because we were friends,” Margery says.
At 3 o’clock on September 30, 2010, Margery talked to her husband to inform him that she was preparing for the outing the two were supposed to have the following day.
“My last conversation with him was quite trivial. I was telling him how I was going to have my hair done since we were going for a party the following day.
“He said he remembered and then said he was going for an appointment before going to the church development committee meeting at 6pm. He never made it to the meeting,” Margery narrates in a chapter her book Celebrating Friendship among Women: The Power of True Women Connections.
Suddenly, the love of her life was gone forever.
“My husband died suddenly in an accident. I could not even pray; I was annoyed with God. I felt that His timing to take away my husband was wrong. I was very weak. It is at this time that I knew the true value of women friendships,” she says.
For several months, Margery’s two daughters, Dr Rachel Nyokabi Kabuya and Dr Beverly Wambui Kabuya accompanied her to the psychologist to help her fully come to terms with the death. In addition, her friends reached out to her.
“The support I received was touching. I had different people travelling from every corner of the world to come to comfort me, pray for me, cook for me and just be there with me,” Margery says, adding that it was these friendships that helped her pull through.
Throughout her healing process, the interactions she had with these women, who she considered true friends, kept coming back to her. She wanted to celebrate these relationships. Her visit to bookshops in Nairobi revealed that there were no books written about celebration of women friendships. The books she saw that touched on that were by American and European authors. It was her wish to have an African woman writer do the same and she gladly took up the challenge.
“I am one of those women who greatly appreciate the role played by women in society. They are nurturers, care givers and first teachers of all children. These are critical and difficult responsibilities. To carry them out successfully, women need to receive assistance mostly from other women,” she says.
And indeed, a sum-up of Margery’s life speaks of the power of women connections. Our meeting does too. Margery met a woman at an event and after a long chat, told her that she has a new book on women she would launch this year. This woman asked Eve Woman writer Sylvia Wakhisi if she would be interested in her story. Since Sylvia had exams, she sent the woman my contacts and evidently, there is power in women connections.
In our interview, Dorothy Nyong’o, a communications director (mother of celebrated actress Lupita), joins us to show support to her dear long time friend. This support and many others she had had, is what made Margery pen down her book Celebrating Friendship among Women: The Power of True Women Connections.
While doing research for her book, Margery interviewed more than 40 women across all races, religious and ethnic backgrounds and social statuses to speak about their friendships. When she went to the field to gather stories, she narrates that she never thought about the impact of women friendships.
“Most of the stories one hears on women friendships are the negative ones. There are many positive of strong, lasting and useful friendships including those of our mothers.
“For instance, I talked to two aged women who had been close friends when they were young and have lived to see each other’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” she mentions slowly and matter-of-factly.
Margery completely disagrees that women are their own worst enemies. She, however, says that there are toxic relationships, which she has highlighted in a chapter of the book.
“Somebody else is defining for us who we are. We have been told that so often, but if we have any problem, the one who comes to our rescue is always a woman. It is always a woman that we run to. Young women should stop allowing people to tell them how they relate,” she advises.
Other than celebrating women friendship, the book will be launched on the death anniversary of her husband, on September 30, at Tayiana Gardens Spa in Garden Estate.
She has dedicated her new book Celebrating Friendship among Women: The Power of True Women Connections to women.
Photo: Jenipher Wachie