She was 19, he was 22. “He just told me that he loved me and that I was the only girl that he had ever loved. That was enough for me,” Beth Mugo said in a past interview.
Few can tell the tale of a marriage that has stood the test of time, not just figuratively, but literally.
But once in a while comes a romantic story like that of nominated senator Beth Mugo and her late husband, Nicholas Muratha Mugo, who were married for 63 years.
Amb Nicholas Mugo, 85, died at a Nairobi hospital on Thursday morning after a long illness, the senator confirmed in a statement. He was born on March 5, 1936.
The pair spoke to The Standard in a 2019 interview, opening up about their marriage and how they overcome the obstacles over the decades to remain madly and truly head over heels with each other.
At the time, the happy pair were celebrating their 61st wedding anniversary.
The couple revealed that theirs was a courtship that followed all required African customs- which ultimately hold the acceptance of each party’s families in high regard. In that sense, their few dates were chaperoned.
“Those days we did not do much dating. Our parents were very strict. We were not allowed to go out with boys to stay out there. My father was very strict. He would say he doesn’t want the neighbours to say, ‘I saw Muigai’s daughter standing by road somewhere.’ He always encouraged us to bring them home. He always told us, ‘If a young man is interested in you or you like him, invite him home.’ My father always welcomed them home. All my sisters will tell you the same,” Beth said at the sitdown.
The couple narrated that their wedding was not without trouble- it had its fair share of challenges. Even the honeymoon did not come to be, but the circumstances did not stop the pair from starting their ‘happily ever after’ with each other.
“It was during the State of Emergency time. The evening before our wedding, Nicholas was arrested at Gathage Township. He told the European arresting him that he had a wedding the next day. He mentioned my father, Muigai, who was the District Officer of Gatundu then. And that is how he was released,” she said.
She said that after the wedding, the two could not immediately stay together as her new husband had to return to Nairobi for work, leaving her behind in the village. It was a time when locals needed to have a passbook to live in Nairobi, especially the Kikuyu community.
“Under the circumstances, a honeymoon was out of the question because the young couple did not have the money, and thanks to the emergency, there was nowhere to go. Thankfully, a reprieve came in the form of an opportunity for the couple to go to the US for further studies and here they are now, aging together and still happy walking hand in hand through life,” The Standard reported at the time.
But the next time Nicholas came home, she insisted she had to go back with him to Nairobi. She wasn‘t taking no for an answer.
“That first night in the city, we were almost arrested. They came knocking at our door. My husband told the man arresting us that we were newly-weds and even though I had no passbook, I had refused to stay in the village. The man relented and instructed him to take me to the offices the next morning and I get a passbook which we did.“
In the interview, Beth said their marriage “has been a happy one, full of respect for each other, communicating, because what we found is that no matter how big a problem is, if you discuss it, you can sort just about everything that comes your way.”
The couple had four children.