58-year-old Mzee Selemia Ayeko Wandago from Likoni, Mombasa County, Kenya married Phyllis Okisa, 64, a woman he had been secretly admiring close to four decades. "Finding true love has not been easy, especially after I parted ways with my first wife with whom we bore two sons (now grown ups) and my second wife who passed away, leaving me with three young children," says Ayeko whose wife from his second marriage died while giving birth.
Ayeko says they knew each other decades ago when Okisa regularly came visiting her sister, who was married to the former’s uncle. The two love birds confessed that at some point they got attracted to each other, but could not date for fear of stigma associated with relative (however distant) who fall in love.
"We knew one another when we were both young. We liked each other, but we were never romantically involved," says Okisa.
In 1969, months after they met, the then 17-year-old Okisa got married. His wife gave birth to a baby boy who died a year later. Ayeko, on the other hand, got married and even had a family.
"I developed complications during my second pregnancy while in my 20’s. Things got bad and my uterus had to be removed due ectopic pregnancy related complications," says Okisa whose fate was later sealed after her then husband’s relatives got him a second wife whom she couldn’t get along with, leading to a nasty separation.
Decades later the two found themselves living in the same neighborhood at Maweni in Likoni, with Okisa making regular visits as a relative.
"She (okisa) used to regularly visit and we continued to refer and treat each other as shemeji. My second wife was very kind and welcoming and always welcomed Okisa in our home and treated her like the relative she was," says Ayeko who confesses that much as he still was attracted to Okisa, he suppressed the affection without knowing that the feeling was mutual.
When Ayeko’s second wife died in 2011, while giving birth due to high blood pressure, he had nobody to take care of him and his young children other than Okisa, whom he insists they still had not had any romantic involvement whatsoever at that point.
"She would come, wash clothes and cook for me and return to her home. I will never forget 2015 when my hand hurt with mdudu (a painful infection on fingers common at the Coast). No neighbour came to assist me and the three small children but her,"
He says he was touched when she told him she would continue taking care of him and the kids even after his hand healed. I told her to come and live with me so that she she would take care of the children since she was chased away by her husband for lack of children."
"I had given up on finding love. Ayeko is a blessing to me, says Okisa, a vendor who originally hailed from Luanda in Vihiga County. The two love birds got married at Christ Evangelical Church in Shimanzi with the blessings of Bishop John Oketch Olwande who presided over their nuptials in May 1 2016.
"I love my husband since he does not drink alcohol." Ayeko says he intends to take Okisa to meet his relatives now that they are now husband and wife.