Wednesday, March 3, 2010



Francis and Nelly Njuguna when they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2008.

March 2 2010

Financially stable, good looking, educated. These seem to be the main criteria when one is looking for a partner these days. But is it possible to find true love without any of them?
“Yes,” says Agnes Waruguru Mungara, 65, who, after finding her true love, stood by him through thick and thin.

The mother of six married Patrick Ng’ang’a Mungara in 1963, and although he died 15 years ago, she still speaks fondly of the times they shared.

Agnes lives in Nairobi’s Buru Buru estate with some of her daughters, who look up to her as a role model for showing unwavering love towards their father.

As she walked down the aisle, Agnes thought it marked the beginning of a perfect marriage, where there would be no disagreements or disappointments. But this was not to be, and she came to learn that every relationship has its ups and down when they began experiencing one disaster after another.

First, her husband sank into depression when their only son, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty. Thereafter, Patrick was injured in a road accident.

But worse was still to come, when, after losing his job with a bank on medical grounds, he became an alcoholic.

“Dad was extremely depressed when he lost his job, but mum never gave up on him. She always told her friends what dad was going through and the challenges the family had to endure,” says her daughter Caroline, 37.

Caroline recalls that her mother, then a civil servant, would be called from work to go home and attend to her father; on his way home from the pub, Patrick often tripped and fell, sometimes injuring himself badly.

“Mum never got agitated. She never showed any anger in our presence. She always told us to try and understand what dad was going through,” Caroline offers.

Agnes recalls that, although she would occasionally get upset by her husband’s drinking, they would still go to church together. And when they had serious disagreements, she was always ready to forgive him.

Agnes says Patrick was her confidant, her love, her companion, her friend, her husband and the father of their children. That is why she always stood by him.

Caroline says that her mother showed inimitable strength when her father succumbed to a spinal injury.

“I remember how she stood by him, always by his side. I don’t know whether I would have been as strong if I had been in her situation. Maybe I would have walked out,” she says pensively.

In the last few days before he died, Patrick would tell everyone, including his daughters, how their mother was one of a kind, and how grateful he was that he had married such a wonderful woman.
“I love Agnes. She is the best woman I have ever known. I know I have wronged her, but I hope she will forgive me,” Caroline recalls her father telling them moments before he died.

“I had been sick for three years before he fell sick, and he had taken over some of the household chores. So when he fell ill, he knew he could count on me. He was no longer working, so I used the earnings from my small business to pay the mortgage and school fees for our six children,” Agnes continues.

She says theirs was true love and sometimes when she thinks of Patrick, she cries.

Caroline says her parents’life demonstrated true love — being there for someone when he needs you, and him being there for you when you need him.

Caroline recalls that when she was growing up, her parents always had breakfast in their bedroom, and that her father had endless stories to tell her mother, who was always beaming. Agnes says she cannot tell exactly why many relationships break up these days, but thinks it is because one partner cannot tolerate some of the things that happen in their lives, yet that is the real test of true love.

“If you love someone, you love him the way he is,” she asserts.

Her views are echoed by Francis Njuguna, 78 who has been married for 53 years. He says when hemet his wife, Nelly, in the 1950s, she had no shoes, but he loved her just the way she was — an ordinary village girl. Like many other couples, they have skillfully manoeuvred the tricky path of marriage.

Living caught up with the Njugunas at their offices at St Nicholas School on Ngong Road in Nairobi, which they jointly own.

They have had eyes only for each other since they met, and looking at them, there’s no doubt they enjoy each other’s company. Indeed, they look like two young lovebirds, although they got married on July 12, 1958, in Kiambu.

“I joke a lot with my wife. We don’t take life too seriously, otherwise we would age too fast,” says Francis.

To which the 75-year-old Nelly responds, “I’m sweet 16.”

So, what do they consider true love?

“True love is when a person gives his or her heart wholeheartedly to the other person. But today, love is influcenced by other factors such as family and educational background,” says Francis, adding that in his day, men concentrated a lot more on the girl than on her family because all they wanted was “a good girl — understanding and obedient”.

“You didn’t really worry about what your potential spouse had. The question of education and wealth did not arise,” interjects Nelly. Then she sits back, waiting for her husband, whom she calls “Daddy”, to say something.

“And pretty, of course,” Francis adds, bursting into laughter.
Before tying the knot, Francis and Nelly had known each other as teenagers. But their love blossomed when they found themselves teaching at Kirangari Intermediate School and again at Loreto Convent School in Limuru.

Nelly says that marriage has both its happy and unhappy moments, recalling that they had disagreements and at some point even thought it would not work out.

But she says that even if she had walked out and found a new love, things would have been no different. Besides, they had married in church and her parents would not have entertained a break up.

I ask Francis and ask whether he ever thought about marrying another woman when things were not going smoothly and he replies, “No, I fear God. There would have been no need because Nelly is the only one for me. When you decide to live with one woman, there is no need of looking for another one,” he says, bursting into laughter.

In their days, Francis says, a woman would not tell you she loved you but showed it though her actions. He says today, love has been diluted and many women do not look beyond a man’s wallet, which is why “These days many young women know every new restaurant in town.”

“I pity young men these days. They take a woman out, and all she wants is his money,” he says.

Asked why she chose Francis, Nelly responds: “Don’t you think he is handsome… and lively?

Also enjoying a stable marriage, although he took a less orthodox route, is William Nyasani. After dating for a while, Nyasani, then 19, and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Mary Nungari, moved in together as husband and wife, a rare practice among their contemporaries.

“I knew I was too young for marriage, but I was ready to fight for our love. I was prepared to become a father and husband,” says Nyasani.

Nyasani, now 36, is a pastor and has been with his 34-year-old wife for 17 years.

“True love is when someone loves you the way you are, without paying attention to your financial or social status,” he asserts.

He says when someone loves you, they persevere. “Fifteen years ago, when the police came to arrest me in a case of mistaken identity, she said she was ready to be locked up with me. Not many people would be willing to do that,” he remarks.

He says the very first time he saw Mary, he knew she was the one for him.

“How?” I ask.

“I felt she made me complete. When I talked to her, I felt a certain chemistry between us.”Then he adds, “That doesn’t mean that you won’t quarrel or disagree, but the other person is kind, concerned and not selfish,” he explains.
Nungari says where there is true love, material possessions don’t matter.

“I didn’t love William for what he had, but for who he is. Nowadays you find that even if a woman is working, she will go for a man because he has a car or owns a house,” she says.


Submitted by WanguiKenya
Posted March 03, 2010 04:41 PM

Committing to be with someone through marriage should not be based on material wealth. If a flood or earthquake, fire come and take it all away, what then? The heart and character of a person is what matters. Build your life together through hard work, respect each other and serve each other unselfishly. I am in a young marriage and I love every moment with my spouse. We are one team , united we stand, divided we fall.

Submitted by Isaya Baraza
Posted March 03, 2010 02:18 PM

Fifteen to tweny years ago marriage was a life time ministry. Nowadays marriage is a contract as in when you became broke then sorry it breaks. I personally prefer a marriage where you both work to hard and become financially stable and own joint properties.

Submitted by ohioWITpassion
Posted March 03, 2010 02:47 AM

Very good and inspiring article. Many marriages today are going astray for basing their love on material and flesh. Genuine love is vital and getting the right person is divine.