A 63-year-old love story: How Beth and Nicholas Mugo met

Ambassador Nicholas Mugo and his wife Beth cut a cake during their 61st wedding anniversary celebration in Nairobi in 2019. [File, Standard]

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 husband, Nicholas Muratha Mugo, who were married for 63 years.

Ambassador Mugo, 86, died at 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 overcame obstacles over the decades to remain madly and truly head over heels in love 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 family in high regard. In that sense, their few dates were chaperoned.

The jubilant couple during their 61st wedding anniversary celebration in Nairobi in 2019. [File]

“Those days we did not do much dating. Our parents were very strict. We were not allowed to go out with boys or to stay out. My father was very strict. He would say he doesn’t want the neighbours to say, ‘I saw Muigai’s daughter standing by the 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 during the interview.

The couple revealed that their wedding was not without trouble. It had its fair share of challenges. Even the honeymoon did not materialise, 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 State of 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.

The next time Nicholas came home, Beth insisted she had to go back with him to Nairobi. She was not taking no for an answer.

The couple had four children.