Couples that proclaim love in black and white

A couple spending time at a beach.  

Photo credit: Nation| File

What you need to know:

  • Bonface told Lifestyle that the coronavirus pandemic has, however, ruined further plans.
  • Bonface said there were mixed reactions to his proposal, which captured the attention of news blogs in Kenya and beyond.
  • Bonface admitted that the manner in which he proposed has managed to keep him faithful.

Some people think the Sh72,000 that Brian Oboga and his wife Phyllis spent in running a newspaper advertisement last Sunday to announce the first anniversary of their wedding should have been spent elsewhere.

Bu the couple does not think so. They believe it was money well-spent.

“There are people who said we should have spent the money in a trip to, say, Dubai. For our honeymoon, we went to Dubai. We need to tell them that. We have invested. So, it (the amount) is not a big deal,” says Phyllis.

Brian adds: “It was something worth it.”

They are a long-distance couple, living 13,000 kilometres apart. Brian, a secondary school teacher of geography and history, is in his home in Nyacheki, Kisii County, while Phyllis, a nurse, stays in the US state of Minneapolis.

They wedded in August 2019 at Kamel Park Hotel in Kisii, and they say the advert, which ran in last week’s Sunday Nation, was a way of telling their critics (apparently they have many of those) that the flame is burning bright.

“We wanted to send a message to some of our haters,” Brian says. “Back in 2018, we were to wed but it never happened. So, there were lots of rumours out there. But we wedded in August 2019. We wanted to send a message to tell people we’re still strong.”

Brian and Phyllis Oboga, who wedded in August 2019. They ran a newspaper advert in the ‘Sunday Nation’ of August 2, 2020 to mark their first  anniversary. PHOTO | POOL

Photo credit: NATION MEDIA GROUP

Phyllis notes: “We have been through a lot. We have had to persevere a lot, but I see we have now made it. We have decided to make it public so that people can let us be.”

Videos from the couple’s wedding feature in a popular Kisii wedding song, Ekio Nki Ekio? (What is That?), by Mcubamba Robbah. It was released the same month the couple wedded. It had 605,577 YouTube views by Thursday.

Propose to girlfriend

The newspaper advert and the music video place the couple in a unique league of individuals who have made their proclamation of love in black and white, and in public.

It has happened before. In February this year, a Ugandan man bought an eighth of a page in the Sunday Monitor, a sister publication under the Nation Media Group, to propose to his girlfriend.

“Dear Linda Rosset Buluma, will you marry me?” he wrote, signing off with “Yours, Bryan.”

The advert ran on February 9, and Valentine’s Day fell on the Friday after. It has not been revealed how Linda responded to the gesture.

Still in February, a proposal happened within the pages of Saturday magazine. Twenty-eight-year old teacher Bonface Ong’era Masese was one of the people interviewed for the February 29 edition of the magazine. He is one of the people born on February 29, meaning they have a proper birthday every four years.

Francis Onyiso’s apology. PHOTO I POOL

“Today, as I mark this day, I only have one wish. To my fiancée Turah Mokeira, will you marry me?” he said. The magazine editor highlighted those lines in red for greater impact.

Turah said Yes on that very Saturday. Bonface told Lifestyle that the coronavirus pandemic has, however, ruined further plans.

“We are still engaged. Tough times have put our wedding plans on hold for the foreseeable future,” said Bonface. “The wedding would have happened this December but as it stands now, that’s a long shot.”

Then he delivered the news: “We didn’t put everything on hold, though. We are expectant.”

Bonface said there were mixed reactions to his proposal, which captured the attention of news blogs in Kenya and beyond.

“Naturally, most of my married friends were happy to welcome us to the club with encouraging messages. The boys, were mostly disappointed — that’s a member of the Team (Mafisi) gone,” he said, making reference to the infamous reference to the marauding bachelors.

We asked Bonface whether he can one day buy newspaper space to mark a milestone in his marriage, like Brian and Phyllis did.

“For me, that’s a No. A small gift for her would suffice,” he replied. “Unless I am marking my territory, which would mean I am insecure.”

Bonface admitted that the manner in which he proposed has managed to keep him faithful.

“I am not too wayward a guy but the public nature of the proposal kind of keeps me in line,” he noted.

Staying in the line was the theme of a 2014 advert in The Star newspaper that was placed by former Harambee Stars goalkeeper Francis Onyiso.

Apologise to wife

“I, Francis Onyiso, take this opportunity to apologise to my beloved wife Janet Aoko Owino for the pain I have caused her and the family. I ask for forgiveness and promise never to repeat again,” he wrote in the ad that had a bold title: “Apology.”

That Onyiso, a Kenya Defence Forces sergeant, could be so yielding as to run an apology to his wife baffled many. But the retired footballer considered it the best way to show his wife that he meant what he had told her.

“I am confident that we shall be able to work through our problems,” Onyiso told Nairobi News on the day the advertisement ran in May 2014.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal advertising on the newspaper. My aim is just to show my wife I love her and to say sorry over the matter,” he added.

In an interview with a local publication last year, Onyiso revealed that the advert “softened” the wife.

“It did what it was intended to do,” he said.

Away from newspapers, there are those who have expressed love outdoors, like comedian Eric Omondi who, in January 2018, placed a billboard at the exit of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to welcome his then girlfriend, who was returning from Italy.

Her photo was displayed prominently in the billboard alongside the words: “Welcome home, Chantal.”

He would later tell a local news blog that the idea took him two months to plan, and that at one point he approached a digital TV provider to partner with him.

“I opted for the billboard placement because it is a move which, until then, had not been pulled by any couple in Kenya. I’d initially thought of placing the message on a screen at the airport. Unfortunately, there are no screens at the JKIA, which left me with no choice but to go the billboard way,” Omondi told Nairobi Wire.

Went separate ways

Omondi and Chantel went their separate ways in May 2019.

Weighing on those publicised ways that some individuals have used to send messages to those they love, relationship counsellor Maurice Matheka thinks there are two reasons a person can do it: One, being romantic (and rich); and two, covering up for mistakes.

“There is a guy who will do it out of love, but you need to assess who is doing it,” he said.

Matheka does not think anyone should pull off such a move to mark territory on the person they love, “as this would be stupid”.

“If you put a billboard to  show that you love your wife, and to fend off suitors, that’s even worse, because now you’re telling people exactly where she is, who you are and stuff like that. You must be an idiot to do that,” he said.

For the man who wants to do something grand after erring, Matheka said, this could be a perfect way to numb his partner’s pain.

“Think of a guy who fails to return home for four days, and because he can afford it, and to avoid a lot of arguments that may last for a long time, he decides to buy his wife a car on his way home,” said Matheka.

“Now, that guy didn’t buy the car out of love. He bought the car because it is a soothing way in for him, so that he won’t be put through a rough time.”

Matheka also knows there are people who make such public moves as publicity and marketing stunts, because such news is likely to spread far and give free marketing to a person or a brand. He gave the example of Simon Kabu and his wife Sarah, the founder of Bonfire Adventures. In 2017, Simon gifted Sarah a brand new Range Rover on her birthday.

Previous birthdays

“What people did not see is that that was marketing for them. It was marketing you cannot buy. The papers featured this, radio stations were talking about it — for free,” said Mr Matheka.

But Mr Kabu, in a past interview, said it was not meant for publicity because he had done greater things on her previous birthdays.

Brian and Phyllis also believe that they were not out for publicity; just to make public their commitment.

“Some responded positively, saying some Kisii men are romantic. Then there are those who have been saying, ‘Can’t they buy land with this money?’” Brian says.

Phyllis adds: “Others were saying, Msichana ameangukia (The girl has chanced upon a good man). I was so excited. Appearing on the newspaper, you know, is no joke. I was so happy to have been recognised.”

Phyllis, who travels to Kenya regularly but has been forced to stay in the US due to the travelling restrictions accompanying the Covid-19 pandemic, wishes that their plans can sail through so she can live with her husband.

“I’m hoping we’ll soon stay together,” she says.

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