On a beautiful Friday morning, December 9 last year, retired Canon David Kinyanjui and his wife Rosemary Mugure exchanged rings at ACK All Saints Hyrax Section 58 parish in Nakuru City to mark their golden jubilee in marriage.
In a colourful ceremony attended by family, friends and hundreds of parishioners, the couple renewed their vows in a thanksgiving service as they celebrated 50 years of marriage. Their faces were radiant with joy and hope for the next phase of their life together, a feeling that was reflected by the attendees as they followed the service.
The officiating minister, Right Reverend Dr Joseph Muchai, led David and his bride in exchanging the vows:
“As the rings never end, so my love will be never-ending. As the cords bind to each other, so to you will I be bound? As precious as the gold it is made from, so precious are you to me; I love you David as this ring will always remind you.” The church erupted in joyous celebration as the couple turned to face them, triggering a trip down memory lane to where their love story began…
They met at a Berea Theological College in Nakuru, in 1971. David was 28 and Rosemary was 23.
“I went to volunteer at the college and saw David as I was serving the elders some food. He did not express any special interest in me at that time. However, shortly after that encounter, another elder came to see me at Michinda Primary School in Elburgon where I was a teacher. He told me that David had sent him, expressing an interest in me. I was hesitant at first and told him that I was still a young girl, but the elder told me that I wasn’t going to be a young girl forever,” narrates Rosemary with a chuckle.
She asked the elder to give her time to pray and seek divine direction from God on whether David was the right man to be her future husband. They spent the next year getting to know each other.
“There were qualities I was looking for. A humble Christian and faithful young man. I wanted a sincere person. David seems to possess these qualities. Those days we had strict instructions not to have sex before marriage. Every time he visited me he came with company.”
On December 9, 1972 David and Rosemary tied the knot in Londiani, Kericho.
“I cried a lot on my wedding day, praying that I hadn’t made a mistake. Over the years, I realised that I had made the right choice,” shares Rosemary.
David recalls the first time he laid eyes on his wife as if it were yesterday.
“I think she was meant to be mine from day one. I had two girls in mind. One was my college mate at Church Army Training College. I expressed my feelings to her but she told me to look for Jesus. I wrote another letter to a girlfriend who was a teacher in my home village in Kinangop to meet but she did not honour my date.”
“When I saw Rosemary serving the elders. I saw this as a miracle from God. I saw her as the woman of my dreams. I proposed to her and though she had some hesitation, God intervened and we got married a year later. I can’t honestly remember the qualities that attracted me to her. At the root of every marriage journey is a strong and hidden and unexpressed love. I think the conviction from God worked wonders in me when she walked into my life in Berea Theological College.”
David is quick to add on their love story, especially at the beginning.
"Marriage is an interesting institution. There was a misunderstanding but we reconciled. I remember there is one time she was very bitter and angry and was almost regretting why she married me. She left and sought refuge with the couple that introduced her to me. They came back and we sorted out our misunderstanding. I repented and we started moving together.”
Laughing at those sweet and bitter memories Rosemary responds: “You know darling, I was very young. I married you when I was 23 years old. You were 28 years old and you were a mature person.”
She adds her own memories of the tough times:
“I remember there was a time I interrupted him while he was talking with his friends, men, at our home. He got angry and went to sleep and left me with the guests. That night I cried because I thought the guests will think David had married a bad woman. Since that time I learned to keep silent when he is talking with his men guests unless they ask me to talk and this has made our union to be strong.”
“He is the only person who understands my strength and my weaknesses. When I left him with our children to pursue a master’s degree in management in education and policy-making in Birmingham United Kingdom he was patient.”
To which David notes,
“I thought when she completes her degree in the UK she will change but she remained the wonderful woman I married. Her humility did not change.”
“For the last 50 years of our marriage, the longest time we were angry at each other was 24 hours. We talked over and whoever was at fault sought forgiveness and we prayed and moved on.”
From Rosemary’s experience, marriage can be viewed as a bank account.
“You must deposit money for it to remain active and for a rainy day. He invested a lot in the welfare of our family and was always there for us as we celebrated anniversaries and public holidays. That is the deposit in our marriage that I cherish to this moment.”
Furthering the bank analogy, David describes Rosemary as a priceless investment in his life.
“She is a very responsible person. Given another chance I will still choose Rosemary. She is the blossoming rose flower of my heart. This is the gold that God gave me. She is like the goalkeeper of our marriage. She guards the marriage goal with genuine love and that is why our marriage has lasted half a century and still counting. May God add her more years so that we can live together. That is my prayer.”
As the couple smile at each other lovingly, a question lingers on what could be the secret to their happy union. Rosemary intuitively speaks up:
“The secret to a happy marriage is respect and love. Don’t hold small grudges for long. I respect him as the father of our home. He loves and takes care of me and our family. For example, I gave birth to all our three children through caesarean delivery. Before my wounds healed he took full charge of the home. He never allowed other women to cook for me. He took care of me like a baby. That is the kind of love he has for me and the flame is still burning.”
She continues: “I avoid unnecessary quarrels. He does so much so I try as much as possible to avoid quarrels. We have never allowed our children to come in between our marriage.”
On his part, David notes that prayers have played a pivotal role in getting them this far.
“If you allow God to be in your marriage you will have a peaceful life together. Praying together has helped us gain tolerance and faith in God, therefore, strengthening our marriage.
We see each other as helpers and it has made this marriage to be enjoyable. I have discovered her heart. I know when she is happy and when she is unhappy I comfort her.”
Rosemary adds: “I feared our marriage breaking because of disrespect. I am an active member of the mothers union in ACK, and while serving as the provincial coordinator of ACK Diocese in Kenya, I preached to many women about building their homes. I strived to practise my preaching at home as well.”
David and Rosemary have three children: Beatrice, 49, John 47, and Sarah 44, and they are blessed with grandchildren as well. Their children have added to the marriage’s happiness and are their pride and joy.
“Beatrice holds a doctorate in Business Management, John is also a doctorate holder in Education while Sarah is a lawyer,” says David glowingly.
During the golden jubilee celebration, John shared a heart-warming speech which said in part,
“As a student of history, it is important for me to put this occasion in the context of world happenings over the last 50 years. Can you believe that Kenya was only independent for less than 10 years when you got married? Can you believe our current president, Dr William Ruto was in standard One when you tied the knot?
And just three years before you got married, the first man landed on the moon. So, getting to your 50th wedding anniversary is no small feat. A lot in our world has changed. On a personal level, there have been many times of joy, pain, success and failure. But the constant has been your enduring love for God, love for each other and for your family and friends.”
“Our parents are unique and rare people because of their enduring love they are the most forgiving people you will ever meet. They set a great example and taught us to always forgive. They are such a formidable team in pushing for progress in their many years of work in the church. Their clarion call of ‘the integrity of the family is the integrity of the nation’ will continue to inspire us forever.” shared John.
The couple says their happiest moments as servants of God are endless but preaching the gospel and helping broken families to stick together after counselling them makes them happy.
They are both retired teachers and run Morning Star Education Centre together which is an Early Childhood Education college that has nursery and primary school wings.
“We are looking forward to what the future holds in the next phase of our life together,” concludes David.