With Valentine's Day just around the corner, we bring you a story of four couples whose relationships redefine love.
David Edward Mwangi 41, vitiligo ambassador, filmmaker and photographer, and Jane Sirintai Babu, 36, administrative assistant
David Mwangi was born in Nyeri, the second born of three brothers and a sister, but his family moved to Narok when he was four years old.
He wanted to become an architect but after completing his secondary education at Kirimara High School, Karatina, in 1997, he joined Utalii College in 1998 and got a diploma in hotel management.
He was then a member of the Holy Trinity Church choir in Buru Buru. His love for music later saw him release a reggae gospel album, My All.
“I always had a thing for the arts. In 2005, I joined Shang Tao for an advanced diploma in multimedia studies, which I completed towards the end of 2006. I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur, so I set up my own studio, Natned Digital Studio, in 2007,” he says.
As a student, David, popularly known as Babu, was completely focused, with love being the last thing on his mind. But that changed when he bumped into Jane Sirintai on his way to college.
He decided to make small talk but they ended up talking for a long time, and before they knew it, they were heading in the same direction.
“I was a student at Shang Tao, studying for a diploma in mass communication and had promised myself to focus on my studies and not get into a relationship. I guess he was too good to ignore, and some of my colleagues pushed me to give him a chance, and so I did,” says a beaming Jane.
David recalls bumping into her countless times in college, until he decided to take her out for lunch. It would become a routine.
Their first real date was at the Bomb Blast Memorial Park in Nairobi's central business district, when they talked till evening. That marked the beginning of their love story.
“That was in 2005. We hadn’t dated for even a year before we decided to settle down. We were blessed to get our first born, Lucy, on May 1, 2006.
My wife had put her studies on hold to bring her up. After two years, she did a diploma in business management, and then a degree in leadership and management at Strathmore University.
Everyone supported us although we at times struggled financially, since I was still trying to establish my photography and videography business.
We eventually tied the knot October 13, 2007 in a beautiful ceremony that was the best day of our lives,” David recalls.
KEY TO HEALTHY LOVE LIFE
Jane says she was drawn to David by his virtuous and focused nature. He had most of the characteristics she wanted in a husband.
He was God-fearing and loving, plus she had a strong feeling that he was “the one”. She adds that she was comfortable around him.
Some people urged her to take her time because they felt she was still young but she believed that, if you get that chance in love, you grab it with both hands.
“Looking back, Jane never really mentioned anything about my vitiligo. She accepted me as I was. In fact, the one time she ever researched on the condition was when I our second born daughter developed white patches on her skin at the age of two.
That’s when she got concerned and we took our daughter to hospital. The doctors said it wasn’t genetic, but that there was no known cure. We encourage her to accept and see herself as uniquely beautiful,” David says.
They advise couples to remain good friends and committed to one another.
They believe in open communication, saying if you communicate, you can understand and resolve issues effectively.
In any relationship, put God first. Respect goes hand in hand with submission. You should also strive to keep the fire burning and treat your spouse as if it’s the first day you met.
* * * *
David Ndung’u and Priscilla Mumbi, both 25, run an electronics shop; she is hearing-impaired
David Ndung’u came from a humble background and was brought up by his grandmother in Nakuru.
He cherished peace and always dreamt of finding the perfect mate. And his journey to finding her began when he joined Karen Technical Institute for the Deaf in September 2015 to pursue a diploma in information, communication and technology (ICT).
He had been told that it admitted students with hearing-impairment and those without. But he later learnt that most of the students were hearing-impaired, and that he would have to learn sign language to fit in.
After he learnt sign language, his colleagues would go to him whenever they needed to pass a message to someone via phone, which made him popular.
“I joined the institute in May 2016 to pursue a diploma in ICT, when David was in his final semester of the first year. Since I knew many people in the school, I asked around and got wind that David was smart in ICT. So I reached out to him and he helped me understand some of the concepts.
We became good friends and he would frequently check on me via text messages. After about two months, he asked whether we could be more than just friends, but I refused because I wanted to focus on my studies. Besides, it hadn’t really crossed my mind that we could be more than just friends,” Priscilla says as David interprets.
NO DULL MOMENT
Because David had never seen a woman as beautiful as Priscilla, he decided to be patient, praying that he would be able to make her his one day.
With time, she came around and saw him as more than just a friend, which made him the happiest man in the world. That was in September 2016.
Another thing that drew David to her was her intelligence and jovial nature. Priscilla was mostly drawn to his humility and how smart he was.
There was never a dull moment and they got along very well. With the great chemistry between them, they soon became inseparable in college.
“Actually, I was not born hearing-impaired. I got meningitis in Standard Five and lost my hearing as a result. It was quite challenging at first because I had to learn sign language. I even had to switch schools and go to Kerugoya School for the Deaf, where I completed primary school in 2011.
With time, I got used to my condition and even made friends, who made me feel better about my situation. My family always thought I’d marry someone who was also hearing-impaired.
They were actually surprised when I introduced David to them but eventually welcomed him with open arms,” says Priscilla.
ACCOUNTABLE TO EACH OTHER
They got married on December 28, 2019, which they describe as the happiest day of their lives.
They felt it was time to make their relationship official. Their wildest dreams had come true.
They say marriage has made them both better people because they are now accountable to each other.
To spice up their relationship, they attend different events, share lots of stories and watch movies together.
“Yes, we do have conflicts, but we usually communicate and ensure that the other person doesn’t feel ignored. It is important to identify the cause of the problem and try to solve it before it escalates. It’s also good never to assume anything. Always communicate clearly to your partner, for example, about your whereabouts. It’s good to be honest,” David says.
* * * *
Alex Parsaloi , 55, and Shiphra, 48
A wife, three children and two grandchildren? That is more than Alex Parsaloi could have asked for.
It all began in 1990 in Olooseos, Kiserian, when Alex took a leap of faith and approached a woman on whom he had set his sights on for some time.
It led to a home full of love and fun. He and Shiphra have been married for 29 years and are happy to have found true love.
“He was the answer to my prayers,” Shiphra says. A native of Nyandarua, she had prayed for a man from the other end of the country.
A man who would truly love and care for her, who not hurt her with words if they had a misunderstanding. And she found those qualities in Alex.
“I doubted that she would accept me with my condition, but shock on me, that was never an issue to her,” Alex says.
They were lucky their families never raised any questions about their union, but were supportive and happy that they had found love.
However some of Shiphra’s friends and colleagues raised concerns about her love for a man with albinism. But she ignored them.
“I never doubted my decision and I was okay with people questioning my choice of Alex. He is my mzungu husband for life,” she asserts.
They describe their love as God-given, which has seen them enjoy almost three decades of marriage. “She is the one person who always has my back and encourages me when I am low,” Alex shares.
People stare at them and comment but they ignore them and focus on their love for each other.
“I have never looked at him and seen his condition. I have always seen the man I fell in love with, the father of our children, and the man I want to grow grey hair with,” Shiphra says.
Their love is evident in the way they talk about their relationship and how grateful they are to have found the right partner.
* * * *
Graham Cheche, 36, and Mercy Cheche, early 30s
In 2014, Mercy Graham joined the church where Graham Cheche had just started serving as a pastor.
She volunteered to work in Sunday School, leading to her meeting with him. What began as a working relationship blossomed into a marriage.
Working together gave them an opportunity to become close friends and prayer partners. The people around them actually thought they were dating because they were often together.
The friends, who knew that they were just friends, wondered why they had not taken the relationship to the next level. “We both found a safe haven to share our challenges without holding back,” Graham says.
Mercy’s previous relationships had made her wary of falling in love. To reassure herself, she asked Graham to introduce her to his family and friends in order to find out their reaction to her disability.
“I had no idea that was her reason. I liked her for her strong will and giving personality, among other things, and I was not diffident about introducing her to the people around me,” Graham says.
The warm reception she received from his family and friends enabled her to give herself a chance to fall in love with Graham.
“I noticed how Graham would defend me around people and not shy away from introducing me. I knew he was the right man for me and I could not help but fall in love with him,” Mercy says.
“I developed osteomyelitis (a bone disease) when I was 10 years old and it changed my life,” she says.
Her supportive, loving and highly protective family helped her develop into a strong woman, who loved herself despite being different.
She did not allow people to put her down or stop her from dreaming big.
They got married in 2017 and have a one-year-old son. “I found true love and friendship in Mercy,” Graham says, “the mother of my child and the one I want to grow old with”.
Mercy says there are certain household tasks she cannot do, but Graham has never made her feel less of a woman. In him, she found a man who understands and supports her where she is limited.
Mercy finding true love and strong will and personality birthed Ability Africa & Rare Beauty, a Valentine’s Day dinner during which they share their story with other interabled couples and singles looking for inspiration to find true love.