We danced our way to love

Latin dances are known for their sensual, seductive moves and while Samuel Manthi and Esther Mabonga Manthi cannot account for those moves as the sole reason they were attracted to one another, it is in a salsa class that they met and became good friends. They speak to ESTHER AKELLO on their journey down the aisle.

The year is 2010 and Esther Mabonga is a first year student in Moi University, Eldoret, enamoured by the idea of a (cheap) salsa class within campus, she joins the dance club. She seems to be finding her footing as days go by, at least with the help of another novice like her.

One day she comes to class late and finds herself without a partner. Lucky for her, another club member walks in late as well and seeing as they are just the two of them, they partner up.

That unpredictable partnership culminated into a life-long commitment in 2016, when Esther, 28, said ‘yes I do’ to her once salsa dance partner Samuel Manthi.

“When we partnered up, it was simply out of necessity. I did notice that Samuel was quiet and soft-spoken, which worked out fine because I’m an introvert as well,” explains Esther, as Samuel chimes in that it didn’t take him a lot of sessions to know he was attracted to Esther.

The couple admits that experimentation and living wild campus lives were out of question from the word go.

“I always knew the only way I’d get into a relationship is if it would lead to marriage,” says Samuel as Esther adds, “I’d just left a relationship prior to joining campus and I didn’t want to go through a heartache again. I asked God to give me someone I could have a long-term relationship with and then Samuel happened. Thankfully, even after graduation, we never seemed to struggle with post campus transition. We made the same deliberate effort to see each other just as we did in campus even as our careers took off.”

No proposal for you…
In 2015, after five years of courtship, the couple started planning for their wedding. However, by February of 2016, Esther had grown weary of Samuel’s lack of enthusiasm to propose.

When she picked up the topic with him, Samuel insisted that they didn’t have to follow everyone’s script and therefore, there would be no proposal for her. What she didn’t know was that Samuel had bought the engagement ring the year before.

“Timing seemed to be the challenge. I’d tried to propose sometime in 2015 but the plan never worked out. So I decided to buy my time. The opportune moment arose in June last year during her sister’s graduation party,” 28-year-old Samuel reveals.

Esther expounds, “As a family tradition, we usually have a family dinner when someone graduates. So when my sister graduated in June 2016, I asked Samuel to accompany me to the dinner but he insisted that he was too busy so I never once saw the proposal coming.

However, at the restaurant, it struck me as odd when one of our mutual friends walked to our table, put a rose in a vase then hugged my sister who by the way insisted that they were long time friends. It then happened a second, a third and a fourth time. That’s when it dawned on me that Samuel was proposing. He placed the last rose in the vase, got on one knee and proposed.”

While most couples rely on committees to help organise their big day, the couple opted not to engage one. On September 9, 2016, the couple exchanged their nuptials at the Karen Country Lodge in an afternoon ceremony that saw them spend Ksh855,000 with a 150-long guest list.

“We opted for an afternoon wedding because we wanted to be different. We merged the reception and after party so that it was just a long celebration that stretched into the evening. We also did away with a vehicle entourage and opted to change in one of the cottages at the venue and simply walk to the podium,” says the couple.

As they conclude, their advice to those seeking marriage is: “The success of our relationship is because of God’s wisdom and counsel. If you can stand your partner at their worst then you are good to go.”