Couple seals pledge with silent ‘I do’

Mr Wilson Mumo and Ms Cecilia Wanjiru, who are both deaf and dumb, exchanged vows in a colourful ceremony held at the PCEA Church in Nakuru West. Photo/GEORGE SAYAGIE

What you need to know:

  • Outstretched arms waved ululations after union of deaf and dumb couple

When Mr Wilson Mumo and his bride Cecilia Wanjiru said “I do” in front of a packed church, very little human sound was heard from the assembly.

It was not that the congregation was not happy for the couple, but rather much of the crowd, including the bride and groom, were deaf and dumb.

Indeed, the ululations were a muted gesture of outstretched arms with splayed fingers waving in the air.

Joyful faces

But the silent jubilation did not take away the obvious ecstasy displayed in the joyful faces of the friends and relatives of the couple who celebrated their union at the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) Nakuru West Church.

Rev Joseph Gichinga who presided over the ceremony, described it as “historic”.

“Never before has this church witnessed the marriage of two deaf people, and it is a special day for us,” said Rev Gichinga.

“I hope that there will be more similar weddings,” church elder Reuben Gitonga said of the union.

That the day was a special one for Cecilia could not have been more evident. She was radiant, both from the smile on her face and her obvious inner joy.

She blew kisses and waved to friends, family and even total strangers at intervals during the occasion, and was inarguably the star of the moment.

A touch of happy tears touched her shining eyes when, kneeling before the pulpit, Rev Gichinga finally declared the couple husband and wife.

Wilson, the bridegroom who is a painter in Nairobi, was beside himself with joy as he kissed his bride, sending the crowd into a frenzy of hand-clapping and ululation.

“I give you this ring as an ornament and pledge of the promise I have made to you.

“I am taking you to live with me in a bond of fellowship from today onwards in times of peace, in times of hardship, in times of prosperity, in times of poverty…so help me God,” they repeated after the preacher, aided by translators, as they slipped the rings on each other’s fingers.

Three sign language experts helped to translate the proceedings to the deaf multitude who nodded or clapped at intervals to show that they understood.

Cecilia and Wilson met at the Emmanuel Church for the Deaf in Nairobi a couple of years ago.

The two started a fulfilling relationship after meeting at one of the deaf schools they were involved in preaching in from time to time.

“We have been attending the same church and know and trust each other,” Cecilia said in an interview through an interpreter.

She works as a matron at the Ngala School for the Deaf in Nakuru.

“Wilson and I have been praying for the big day and we have the full support of our parents and friends,” said Cecilia.

Wilson is hoping that he will get a job in Nakuru soon so that he can join his new wife and they can live together.

Saturday’s wedding was not short of entertainment, with a silent dance by youngsters from the Ngala School for the Deaf leaving the crowd enthralled.

Part of the crowd may not have understood sign language, but everyone gave the young dancers a standing ovation for their performance.