The marriage between Boniface Odero Nyimbi and his beautiful bride, Violet Juliet Jones in 1970 no doubt goes down among the shortest in history.
The two (pictured below) met in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, both total strangers to each other. Reminisces Odero: “I was in the Ugandan capital distributing drugs for an American pharmaceutical company and she was on transit to Lusaka, Zambia to renew her expatriate teaching contract there. Coincidentally, we had booked up at the same hotel.”
He continues: “When I woke up in the morning and shuffled to the dining hall for breakfast, a young, attractive girl having her breakfast and seated alone caught my eyes. I quickly marshaled courage and approached to join her for company. She did not object.”
“We exchanged introductions. She was born in the Caribbean twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago and was travelling from London. As fate would have it, we struck an instant rapport on learning that we were both single and eligible. She was flying out the following day.”
“I offered to drive her to the airport 25 kilometres away in Entebbe and again fate visited. My vehicle had developed mechanical problems, forcing us to drive slowly. We had agreed to marry by the time we reached Entebbe.”
He recalls: “But it required three months to make marriage arrangements, we were informed at a registry close to the Entebbe State House. The alternative involved paying Sh1,100 for immediate formalisation. I paid. I quickly called a student friend from Makerere University to be the best man. For the maid of honour, I looked no further than the typing desk where a secretary was at work on our documents. She reluctantly agreed to play “best maid.”
The next session was even more unique: “We strode to a nearby restaurant and ordered four sodas that we drank in a pseudo reception. It was all over and we were from that moment, Mr and Mrs Odero complete with rings hurriedly bought at Entebbe. The rest as they say, is history,” he says.
Mrs Odero chips in: “It was that fast and simple. I traveled to Zambia, a married woman; I terminated my contract there and was on the next plane to Nairobi where my husband, his relatives and friends received me at Embakasi International Airport.”
She continues: “The next day I got a job as a teacher at St Georges School now St Georges Girls Secondary School, where Agnes Murgor, now a High Court judge was among my students.
“Agnes was a bright little girl. I remember her coming to me, curiosity splashed all over her young, innocent face and asking where I came from because I was speaking with an accent similar to her mother’s. The following day, her mother came to see “this teacher from back home in the Caribbean”. I got to know many other people from the Caribbean living in Kenya at the time, among them Cecil Miller.”
Besides St George’s, then a primary school, Mrs Odero taught at Ogande Girls High School in Homa Bay and Kisumu Boys and Kisumu Girls High Schools. Among her students at Kisumu Boys High school was Prof Larry Gumbe.
After 14 years at the two Kisumu schools, Mrs Odero detoured into private schools and had a stint at the elite Rusinga School in Nairobi where among her students was Kenyan Oscar Award winner, Lupita Nyong’o whom she describes as “a girl in a class of her own” and “simply out of this world.”
“I taught her English language. She excelled in it, but it was in drama under the tutelage of the late Mutegi Njiru where she was totally unmatched. We all knew she was a genius in that area. I am not surprised by her achievements.”