Mary Kilobi, a Kiswahili TV anchor with KTN, has finally opened up about her private love life, admitting that COTU boss Francis Atwoli, whom she calls ‘Mr Amazing’, is her husband.
Social media went wild last week after a seemingly jilted Bungoma politician Jack Wanami Wamboka, claimed that Atwoli eloped with Kilobi who was his wife.
But Kilobi has dismissed Wanami as a joker out to ruin her blossoming marriage to the 69-year-old veteran trade unionist.
Kilobi told The Nairobian that, “I love Atwoli, he is a caring man who is always there for me. Given another chance, I will still fall in love with him.” Yet when Atwoli first proposed to her, she turned down the offer.
“He proposed to me but I said no. But he insisted, saying that he was serious and would wait for even 1,000 years for me to say ‘yes’ and marry him,” reveals Kilobi. In retrospect, the TV anchor says she turned down the proposal because of their age difference.
“But I have now realised that age should never be a key consideration in a relationship. Atwoli is that guy who is never bothered about mundane issues that sometimes break up marriages,” says Kilobi.
She describes the COTU boss as a responsible man who comes home straight from work. The couple lives at their IIbisil home in Kajiado after Atwoli finally won her heart in 2016.
“He told me he was lonely and needed a wife to live with in Kajiado. I challenged him to visit my parents and make his intentions known if he was serious. He readily responded by sending a delegation to the village about two months ago,” reveals Kilobi.
The two started living as man and wife after Atwoli fulfilled the Luhya traditional formalities. Two months ago, Atwoli sent a delegation to Kilobi’s parents in Kavula village, Bumula sub-county, where he was officially granted permission to marry the 34-year-old TV hottie, who was also attracted to him because of his prayerful nature.
“Katibu (Atwoli) is very Godly. His commitment to God really attracted me to him. I had never come across a man who fears and loves God like him. He prays every morning for all of us,” she explains.
Kilobi is Atwoli’s third wife and she has no problem being part of a polygamous family. Kilobi says her previous relationship to Wanami did not work out because he was never serious like Atwoli, who made the marriage proposal seven years ago during an outing date at a restaurant in Karen, Nairobi.
She describes her relationship with Wanami, who reportedly accused Atwoli of using money from poor workers to wreck people’s homes, as a disappointment.
“He should show you where our matrimonial home was and whom he gave the bride price if indeed he was married to me as he claims,” says Kilobi.
“I have never been married before, in fact, it is him who used to stay in my Lang’ata house. I never went to his house for the three years of our disastrous courtship,” claims Kilobi.
She accuses Wanami of lying to her that he was single and begging for her hand in marriage yet “after one year, his wife came out of the woodwork. I felt cheated. I was naive, but I now know the type of men who are committed to marriage.”
Kilobi is happy that Atwoli is now there for her since “he showers me with love and always shows genuine concern. He calls several times during the day to check on me. I am with him because of love, not money.”
Her first encounter with Atwoli was way back in 2005, when she was at Makerere University pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature and Kiswahili. She was an intern at Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) in Kampala at the time, where the union boss had come for an interview.
“Someone in the newsroom alerted me that there was a Kenyan working there. Naturally, I got interested in meeting that person,” says Atwoli adding that they exchanged pleasantries and contacts with Kilobi.
Six years later, when she returned to Kenya, Kilobi and Atwoli opened lines of communication and the COTU boss instantly expressed his undying love for her.
Her father, Samson Weyusia, maintains the daughter has officially been handed over to Atwoli, a man he once met in Kajiado following an invitation. Weyusia says he knew Wanami as a friend to Kilobi, but not husband.
“He never showed serious interest in marrying my daughter, so he should stop crying foul,” warns Weyusia.
According to the old man, a marriage is recognised when both parties fulfil certain conditions, like a formal introduction to the girl’s parents or a written agreement about the pride price.
“But Jack (Wanami) has done none of these. He came here once as a friend of my daughter. After that, I never received any official communication from him about his real intentions with Mary (Kilobi). I have no business with him,” says Weyusia.
The mzee reveals that the daughter informed him about her decision to marry Atwoli six months ago before Atwoli sent a delegation to his home.
“I respected her decision since she is mature. There being no objection, I gave my consent and blessed the union,” adds Weyusia.
While on official duty in Kisumu, Atwoli declared that Kilobi is his wife. “I have many wives, but I snatched none of them from any marriage. Before I get hold of a woman, I do enough background check with the family to ascertain that she is not married to another man,” said Atwoli.
He said before he asks for a lady’s hand in marriage, he does a background, either directly through her parents, or indirectly through trusted friends, in this case, Francis Wangara, the Kenya Union of Sugar Plantation and Allied Workers secretary-general, whom he said participated in ‘vetting’ his latest wife.
“Wangara, whom I dispatched to find out if that woman was seeing someone, brought back a report that the lady was free, and that her parents had not received bride price from anyone,” he said.
Atwoli’s views on polygamy are a matter of public record. In an earlier interview with The Nairobian, he said there are more women than men in the world.
“If we don’t marry many wives, who will marry our daughters? I am encouraging my sons to marry more than three wives so that we can reduce the population of unmarried women. It’s a taboo in our community to bury our daughters where they were born. They must be married somewhere,” said the veteran trade unionist.
Asked if she is carrying Atwoli’s child, Kilobi said, “Pregnancy is God gift. If it is there, it will reveal itself in due time!”