When wedding photos of Peter Mbugua looking dashing in a brown suit emerged, he made headlines, not for the glamour, but because the 25-year-old had married a 67-year-old widow in 2003. The widow happened to be Ms Virginia Wambui Otieno. The marriage was criticised by many, but also defended by others.
Then just 25 years old and naive, Mr Mbugua had defied the norm in African culture and married a woman 42 years his senior in a civil wedding. They later had a church wedding in 2011 but the controversial freedom fighter died in August 30 of the same year and was buried at the family farm in Upper Matasia in Ngong, marking the end of the marriage.
But on Monday, Mr Mbugua was celebrated as he walked a young woman down the aisle in a colourful church wedding. He tied the knot for the second time at Archbishop Harrison Ng’ang’a’s Christian Foundation Fellowship Church (CFF) in a mass wedding.
And on Monday, unlike his wedding in 2003, Mr Mbugua, now 45, was this time in church to solemnise his marriage to the mother of his three children, who is 10 years his junior.
Wearing a dark blue suit, a white shirt, a floral tie and a pair of black shoes, he walked majestically into the church, at 9am, hand in hand with his spouse, Ms Anne Wangari Njuguna, who was dressed in a cream wedding dress.
They walked, their faces beaming as they kept glancing at each other.
Standing at slightly over five feet tall and having added some weight, the shy man has adopted a new attitude to life.
Mr Mbugua and Ms Njuguna were among the 40 couples who took their marriage vows in a mass wedding organised by CFF church.
In an exclusive interview with the Nation, Mr Mbugua intimated that his first marriage was marred with controversy, especially after his wife died. Although the marriage had its ups and down, he says, their age difference did not bother him.
Mr Mbugua said before the dust had settled, he was embroiled in a property tussle with his stepdaughters.
He was kicked out of the Matasia home, and forced to move to Kitengela to make a fresh start. His life journey became bumpy and lonely.
“When my wife, Wambui, died, I felt as if a part of me had gone with her. Little did I know that the battle had just begun. I was being fought from all directions by my stepdaughters, so I had to maintain a low profile, away from the Matasia home, for the situation to cool down.
‘‘But our marriage certificate protected me and shielded me from being disinherited. That was one phase of my life and I have never regretted,” said Mr Mbugua. He said he has never visited his late wife’s graves and has moved on.
Although his life was bumpy and lonely after his first wife died, Mbugua has found love, and has two sons and a daughter with Ms Njuguna. Mr Mbugua, who now operates a glass merchant shop in Isinya town, has since shed off his youthful look.
“The law allows me to remarry after the death of my spouse. The first marriage certificate is not longer binding,” he said at the CFF church, occasionally looking at his wife.
Sometimes he appeared in deep thought, his eyes misting over with tears as if he was reflecting on some painful memories. Bishop Ng'ang'a, in his witty style of preaching, did not disappoint, urging the newly-weds to show tolerance for each other and to respect the tenets of marriage.
"Marriage must be respected as stipulated in the Bible. A man is allowed to have only one wife and can remarry only if he is a widower. All couples who have renewed their vows today must be transparent and respect each other,” he said after the couples took their marriage vows.
Mr Mbugua revealed that, since he remarried, he had been toying around with the idea of solemnising his marriage so when the church floated the idea of a mass wedding, he seized the opportunity.
"Life has taught me how I can secure my family in case of any eventuality. The young generation fears weddings, not knowing the danger they are courting.
‘‘It is God’s idea that a man and his wife should solemnise their marriage. My wife and relatives have been supportive, aware that the past has nothing to do with the future,” he said.
His wife said she has no problem with his first marriage and declared undying love for him, describing their love as “unimaginable’’.
Speaking to the Nation, some of Mr Mbugua’s relatives who attended the wedding said they were happy their son had married a young woman who had borne him children. They hold no grudges and want the past forgotten.
That the couple was happy was evident as they walked from the church to join a small convoy headed for Kitengela.
After the church service, visitors and relatives were treated to a grand reception at the family’s Milimani home in Kitengela.
His late wife’s relatives did not attend the wedding.