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Zawadi and John's Love Story

Christmas of 1999 was the loneliest holiday of my life. I had reached a point in my life that all I wanted now was to have a companion. I wanted to get married. I was no longer preoccupied with my career. I wanted a man who was handsome, loving, respectful to women, fun to be with, but the most important a practicing Christian. Lastly but not least it was very important he was from the kikuyu tribe (my tribe).
I felt the ingredient for a good marriage was good communication and understanding each other. So on 31st ‘Watch Night’ 1999 at my church, I had two specific prayer requests. 1. For a new Job that would help me put my feet to the ground and 2. I prayed for a husband. It was against this backdrop that I found myself on May 1st 2000 seated at the back of a white Toyota Car with a young white man waiting for a driver. I had just been offered a job in a Missionary Organisation to be based in Nairobi to provide support to missionaries who were running projects inside Southern Sudan.
This job was a dream come true because my travels were cut down by 80% and I was back at my home base in Nairobi with a normal office job like normal people! I noticed the young white man was impatient and was shifting on his seat. I secretly stole a look at him. He was dressed casually in a pair of jeans and an off-white oversize T-Shirt. His eyes and hair were brown. He had been introduced as John it was his first working day too. He was going to be based in Southern Sudan as a missionary.
I thought he looked lost and nervous because he kept grinning aimlessly. Well, the one thing I will never forget about that first day is, during the lunch break they asked John to say grace for the food, and I think due to nervousness he mumbled something incoherent! “Oh my God!” I thought to myself. “He is not only lost, he is a pagan missionary! He will need a lot of help!”
Later we discovered we were the only new staff members so we sort of found ourselves talking to each other more and we often unintentionally huddled up together in meetings and slowly became friends. Since I had concluded he was a pagan missionary who needed to be converted, I invited him to my church. The first time I took John to my church, just like I had anticipated, I was faced with many questions. All my friends wanted to know who John was to me.
I introduced him as a colleague and it was acceptable. Then he travelled to the field in Southern Sudan. On 15th August, 2000 late afternoon, I was in my office, completely engrossed in some work I needed to finish before five o’clock which was fast approaching. I heard a soft knock on my door. “Come in,” I said. The door opened and there he was! It was John!
I had completely forgotten about him. He had just come back from the field for his Rest and recouperation (R&R). How quickly time flies! This means he had been out in the field in Southern Sudan for almost two months. I was pleasantly surprised and excited to see him again. After exchanging a few pleasantries, the unexpected happened, he asked me out for dinner. It caught me off guard because it was the last thing I was expecting from him. We were just good friends as colleagues so going out to dinner together in my view was a no-go zone. I actually felt a little bit incensed by the thought that he was making a pass at me. I was quick to say a big NO to his request! I told him I was very busy with other evening commitments for the next three days to discourage him. He politely answered it was ok and went away.
What he didn't know is the fact that I had promised myself I would never ever date a white guy, which was also part of why I had such a strong reaction against his invitation for dinner. After calling my friend for advise, she made me realise John was just lonely didn't know anybody in Nairobi and was just looking for company.
So finally I looked for him and accepted to go for dinner. That was the first of many dinners that followed. Exploring new exotic restaurants in Nairobi city became one of our favourite evening activities. Until one night when a kiss nearly destroyed our friendship. On this particular evening I had put on my most beautiful evening dress.
I was feeling beautiful and confident. I noticed that John. was looking at me in a different kind of way I had not seen before. He couldn't keep his eyes off me. There was something about his look that aroused my emotions. Suddenly things changed between us, he was not only just a friend and colleague who needed a lot of help, but I started to notice that he was a handsome hunk of a guy. I felt guilty that I felt that way about him.
I wondered if he had also started feeling the same way about me. He held my hand and it was like I was hit by an electric shock. The touch of his hand aroused in me emotions I didn't know existed in me. When he took me home that evening, instead of how he normally used to drop me off at the gate, he asked me if he can see me off to the door. At the door without me expecting it he pulled me to himself and gave me the most passionate unexpected kiss.
It completely caught me off guard and melted and froze my brain all at the same time! For a moment, I could not think straight and couldn't even pull myself away! When I finally could compose myself I pulled myself away and literally ran into the house. It took me sometime to come to terms with what had just happened.
No he did not just do that! He took advantage of me! He should have asked. I felt violated. So I decided the following day I will need to have a talk with him and make things very clear with him that I was not that kind of a girl. Luckily we had a greed to meet the following day which was a Saturday. I was going to help him pick gifts for his family members because he was travelling that evening back to the Netherlands for summer holidays.
The following day after the kiss, seated down opposite each other in my living room, I started to tell him how I disapproved of the kissing act the previous night, but before I could finish my lecture, he cut me short and told me he was very sorry for what he did. He said he did not mean to offend me. He did not know what came over him. He told me he didn't feel good about what happened either, and he was also planning to talk to me about it.
Then the next sentence that came out of his mouth shocked me, took away my breath, took away all my words and left me with my mouthed wide open! He said “I also believe in the same values as you do and I don’t want to play around, and I want to ask you if you will be my wife”. I said, “What?” He continued, “Will you marry me and go live with me on a farm and give me seven children?” In my head I was thinking, “No this is not happening!” He was proposing in the most African way possible in my opinion. I needed a month to think, pray, come to terms with it. Luckily he was away for summer holidays.
When he came back I had sorted my self out and I said yes! In December 14th 2000 he engaged me with a beautiful diamond ring with seven stones and we got married on 27th July 2002 in an elaborate African wedding at my church in Nairobi. 24 members of his family travelled to attend the wedding.
We spend our wedding night at the best hotel Nairobi city could offer and left for the airport early morning for our honeymoon the next day. 14 years later we can say we overcame the racial barriers and are still enjoying our honeymoon at a different deeper level.

The story above has been written by the couple and has not been edited.

Kempinski
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