I know this may sound like bragging, it may even sound like 'madharau', but it is not – when I married Fiolina, the lucky laugh of my enviable life, she had nothing. After getting a strong D+ in KCSE, she was at home doing nothing, with no future to look forward to. She never used to dress well, had never visited a salon and the only shoes she knew were slippers.
I do not disagree that she is beautiful by Mwisho wa Lami standards, but no one saw that beauty then – except me! Truth is, the day Senje Albina introduced me to Fiolina is the day her life changed. Forever.
I still remember that day, in 2012, like yesterday. I had visited Senje Albina; and like every good aunt, she invited Fiolina to serve me food. Dre ni nani? I put my best foot forward – I dropped my best pick-up lines while showing her how sophisticated I was. Unsurprisingly, two days later, Fiolina paid me a visit, never to return. And just like that, I was married.
Like a private equity fund which buys an undervalued asset, I embarked on transforming Fiolina. We went to Kakamega, bought a few clothes, shoes, earrings and artificial hair. I introduced her to the salon, and in a few months’ time, people started noticing the changes. Everyone, including those who had looked down upon her, started calling her Dre’s First Lady, The Duchess of Mwisho wa Lami.
Proud of her
Even her family became proud of her; and soon, Tocla, her brother, would tell everyone that I had married his beautiful sister. He also made me his ATM, always visiting whenever he had a financial problem. He would even drink at Hitler’s in my name. “Mnaishsi na msichana wetu na hamjalipa kitu,” he would tell Hitler. “Wacha Dre alipe tuta-subtract kwa mahari.” To address this, I opened dowry negotiations with Fiolina’s family; put together a panel of Mwisho wa Lami Eminent Persons, with Rasto as leader of the delegation, and we agreed to pay some tidy amount as dowry.
“Bibi ni bibi, wanawake wote ni watoto” said Rasto, who disagreed with my intention to pay more. I paid 30 per cent of what was agreed because dowry is never paid in full..
Unknown to many, the journey of transforming Fiolina had just begun. A few months later, I enrolled her at the prestigious Mosoriot TC. Soon after she had joined the college, I received a letter from her father, clearly written by an enemy of development, asking that we reopen dowry negotiations.
“When we allowed you to take our girl, she was just a Form Four leaver. As you are aware, she is now in college meaning that her value has increased substantially, and once she completes college, she will become a teacher, earning like you, or even more. And the salary she will earn will go to your family. This is therefore to invite you for a meeting to review the dowry terms and conditions.”
I never responded to this letter despite several reminders; but, in her second year at Mosoriot, Fiolina became restless, saying I needed to address the dowry issue. At the time, I had just been appointed Deputy HM, and Tocla was moving around telling everyone that I was a deputy who could not pay dowry for his wife. My family did not approve of me re-discussing dowry with Fiolina’s family
“Mnataka kuongeza n’gombe na hatujaona mjukuu?” Asked my mum when she heard of our plans.
Anyway, the Eminent Persons Dowry Delegation led by Rasto paid Fiolina’s family a visit, and we put up a strong defence, reminding her family that while it was true that Fiolina was in college, I was the one paying fees.
“You are paying fees because we gave you a bright lady,” their Head of Delegation said. “If paying fees is important, can you take this tree to college?” He asked, pointing at a huge eucalyptus tree.
Rasto reminded everyone of the many teachers who had no jobs, and he was adamant that the only thing on the table was when I would pay the next installment of the dowry. There was a stalemate. Fiolina’s father called me aside.
“My son, thank you for taking my daughter to school,” he started. “I am not the type to demand pay for my daughter but you know in our culture, no one slaughters his own cow. For me what is important is to see my daughter happy in her marriage.”
He went on: “But having invested heavily in raising up your wife for over 20 years, you will agree with me that it would be immoral for you to live off her salary while I suffer.” I agreed with him and proposed that we re-open the discussions after Fiolina gets a TSC number. That broke the stalemate.
I forgot about this promise, but Fiolina’s father, it seems, did not. About two months ago, when news of Fiolina’s new, well-paying, sales job with a big company in Kakamega spread far and wide, I received a letter from her father, congratulating me on Fiolina’s appointment. A month later, I received another letter from him, clearly written by a first year Economics University student.
Excerpts: “My son, as you will realise, Fiolina’s value has grown exponentially, and the fundamentals and market indicators show that it will keep growing. Unfortunately, this value of equity from her net earnings, and the dividends thereof only go to your family. Based on the investments we have each made in this Special Purpose Vehicle, we believe that we are not getting commensurate share capital gains and dividends. This is therefore to invite you for a Special AGM to re-look at each party’s stake and equity in this JV, and review our shareholding.” In short, he was asking that we re-open dowry discussions.
I responded, reminding him that our agreement was that we review this when Fiolina gets employed by TSC, which had not happened, and will not happen, given that TSC cannot afford her.
Thanks to Tocla and my sister Caroline; this matter got ugly. Last week, Fiolina’s father met my father, the result of which is that an In-Law’s Conference has been called for next weekend.
Knowing that my father, who also feels financially left out, would not be on my side, I have reconstituted the Eminent Persons Dowry Delegation. Hitler will now lead this consortium as we go to Fiolina’s home next Saturday to pursue an out-of-court arbitration.
How should we prepare? What should we tell them?