Pete Odera wanted to marry a noble woman with a penchant for the finer things in life and in his wife Christine, he got all that and so much more
Christine Rose Odera is a very sophisticated woman, as described by her husband Pastor Pete Odera. Not just because he is her husband and has to say nice things about her, but because he purposed to marry a true lady. 19 years later, he is still awed by her.
"I always tell her she deserved to be the wife of an ambassador," he jokes. "Seriously. With this girl, I'm in over my head." Conversation between the two is filled with warmth and laughter, indicative of a great friendship that was the basis of their relationship from the very beginning.
The two met in front of Standard Chartered Bank on Kimathi Street. At the time, a carpooling system that Pete was using had stalled, so he had to take the bus instead. It turned out that Christine was on the same route and they immediately hit it off.
Those days, travelling by bus around Nairobi meant you had to stand, and they had many conversations while standing in public transport.
None of them were looking to date. "I had neither the time, nor the money for dates," says Pete. He was working on a major music project, was in the studio recording and was also going to Bible school.
Christine had also determined that she was tired of games, and had decided that the person she was going to marry had to be honest. She was more interested in a friendship with Pete than anything else.
The one date that Pete remembers was when they went to watch Independence Day. He had a gig writing for a monthly magazine and part of his job was to review movies. That day, he took his friend Christine with him. "Fifteen minutes into the movie, I realised, 'Wow! This girl is in my life and she is not just a friend. This could actually be it!'"
Other than sophistication, the girl he would marry had to be Christian, intelligent and genuinely love children. He had been in another relationship where he had even gotten engaged only to break up so he was not taking any chances.
"So I put her to this crazy test: Capital FM was holding a children's party and they invited me, so I went with her just to see how she would interact with the children. As soon as we got there, there she was being all Miss Graceful Ambassador's Wife," he says. He was sold.
He proposed by calling her father's landline and asked her to marry him. She hung up and said she would call him back. He immediately began to pray about it. She eventually called back to say yes.
"I did not have much money but I managed to get her a cheap engagement ring, which I gave her very publicly at a concert I was headlining," he says.
They would get married on December 13, 1997, approximately one and a half years after they met. Christine had mixed feelings the night before the wedding. "There was kind of a party mood but my father was very ill and we were not sure he would be able to give me away at the wedding," she says. But he made it to the wedding and was very excited about it. He passed on three months later.
On their tenth anniversary, Pete got Christine a new ring under the guise of fixing the old one, which she had kept for its sentimental value. "It was our tenth anniversary plus the 'I'm really sorry I gave you a cheap ring' day," he says.
Their marriage has weathered major storms. "Everything we said in our vows, we have been there, done that," he says. But Christine says that despite the challenges, they have made many happy memories and two beautiful children Mikayla, 14 and Ariel, 16.