How did you meet?
David: I met Praxedes through her aunt. I saw her for the first time on the road when she was visiting her aunt in Western Kenya. I was the manager then and when I saw her, I felt she was different and wanted to know her more. I loved how she carried herself.
Praxedes: I used to be a tomboy and would have easily passed as a boy. Luckily, the heavens aligned in his favour because on that fateful day, one of my cousins decided to upgrade my look and gave me a long dress to wear, which at least accentuated my feminine side. I didn’t really think much of him during our first encounter.
David: We later on met at her uncle’s funeral. In as much as they were grieving, deep down I was a little excited because it was another opportunity to see her. After the funeral, I requested her aunt (my boss) to come with her to the restaurant after which I expressed my interest.
How was your courtship?
Praxedes: When he expressed his intentions, I didn’t oppose it. In my head he was just another friend. We would meet every time I went to visit my aunt. He was such a gentleman and I enjoyed his company. We officially started dating in 1998.
Before getting married, you had to contend with financial issues, differences in backgrounds and other suitors. How did you go about this?
Praxedes: My father had a negative perception about David. This is because David came from a different Luhya community and our cultures did not mix. He is from Vihiga while I’m from Kakamega. On my end, I didn’t mind humble beginnings.
David: It was quite a challenge to face the family because they needed reassurance and evidence that I would be able to take care of their daughter. Their culture values wealth especially land, something I didn’t have at that time since I was an orphan. I may not have had all the qualifications they stipulated, but I had hope that my undying love for Praxedes would win them over.
So how did you navigate those issues?
Praxedes: I had to act fast if we were to be together. Several men had already started talking to my father. But I didn’t want to be with any of them. There was a particular wealthy man who was really pulling the right moves with my father. I knew it would be unwise to confront my father directly hence I quickly approached an old man to speak on our behalf. My father respected the old man and gave him audience. He laid the proper ground for David to come and officially ask for my hand in marriage.
David: The wealthy man was my biggest threat as he had already set a date to visit Praxedes’ parents. I knew if he got there before me, my chance of ever marrying the love of my life would be over. With her inside information, I put my date earlier than his and met her father.
How was the reception?
David (nostalgically): I remember borrowing a suit, which I wore to the negotiations, from one of my friends. I was accompanied by two of my friends. One was a teacher who played a critical role as he had a good rapport with Praxedes’ father – they used to teach in the same location and knew each other. Praxedes’ father gave us the go ahead much to our surprise.
Praxedes: I introduced David to my sister in advance to get into her good books. When my father asked my sister whether she had any objections to our relationship, she had none and fully supported us. We had our traditional wedding in 2000 and later on held a bigger white wedding in 2008.
David: When we got married, I didn’t want her to get a job.
Why was that?
David: Initially, my idea of a wife was that she is someone special who needs to be pampered. I thought that it was my responsibility to cater for family needs. In our first three years of marriage, I was the one providing for the family as she stayed at home with our children.
How did you feel staying at home?
Praxedes: I felt like I was missing out on life but I was consoled with the fact that I was present in the formative years of our children. I also had to submit to David as the head of our home.
David: Her staying at home was actually a blessing in disguise. I used to be a man of the bottle in our early years of marriage. I remember one night I got home a little drunk. I accidentally woke up in the middle of the night only to hear her praying fervently for me to quit drinking. I was heartbroken and resolved to stop that behaviour, which was causing my wife a lot of distress. I can also attribute my spirituality to her constant prayers, backed by her mother.
You are now not only a career woman but also a leader and role model to many, what made David change his hard stance on you being a stay-at-home mum?
Praxedes: He got involved in an accident while working at Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers and sustained serious injuries that left him incapacitated for a whole year. I could not sit and wait for us to starve to death or beg anyone for sustenance. The accident opened an avenue for my husband to see my potential and release me from the house. My first job was at Delmonte where I used to harvest pineapples. I later on ventured into the hotel industry, had a stint at lecturing, counselling, public speaking and hosting a show on Radio Taifa.
David: That aside, I realised that she was not really happy about staying at home. I loved her and, therefore, had had to let her chase her dreams. That is why I could allow my wife to do modeling, which was her passion. It wasn’t easy for me but since I loved her and wanted the best for her, I couldn’t deny her the opportunity. I thank God for a hardworking wife. I later got a job at Bidco Ltd as a Mechanical Engineer where I currently work. I am also a pastor at New Revival Church in Thika.
Speaking of modelling, you were crowned Mrs. Universe Kenya and Mrs. Universe Africa 2017-2018. How did this impact your family?
Praxedes: Mine is more of modelling with a cause. There is a deeper purpose to what I do. Part of the requirements of being a beauty queen is to come up with a viable project which you present before the judges. My project was on curbing violence against women. After winning the contests, I founded Afriprax to help me deal with such cases. Even before I was crowned, I was already travelling and our children were somewhat used to my absence. This made me feel at peace because I knew I had the support of my family.
David: As a pastor, it was initially hard for us because we faced opposition from some friends and different churches. Some of our congregants couldn’t understand how I would allow my wife to attend beauty pageants. We took the contest as an opportunity to help shape and empower women. We clearly understood the greater call to her modelling which kept us sane despite the public backlash.
Are there any fears you face because of her modelling career and how do you deal with them?
David: Of course there are fears that other men might snatch her away; that she may not come back. I had to fight the negative voices both from internal and external sources that said giving her a lot of exposure was a big mistake. I had to shut those voices and give her the space she needed to be who God called her to be.
Praxedes: Representing the country in a continental contest has its own share of nerves. But I thank God for such a supportive husband who believed in me. My husband played a phenomenal role in the Mrs. Africa contest. He was the one who paid for my travel out of his own savings and handled my social media accounts. This helped me focus on the contest with a clear mind.
David: I resolved not to be a watchman to my wife. She is mature and knows what is required of her. Following her around trying to guard her from men would do more harm than good. Most men are stressed thinking about their wives whereabouts. I vowed never to get stressed over her travels.
Praxedes: Modelling also comes with high demands on image and dressing, factors which my husband has clearly understood and has taken charge. He is proactive and when I am called on impromptu meetings, he always packs everything, including things I may not necessarily need at that point. This has come in handy and for that I am eternally grateful.
How do you manage to keep your family intact during your travels and engagements with your different jobs?
David: Our faith in God has been our rock. When she goes on tour, I have to hold down our home. I become both father and mother to our children. The sacrifice is worth it.
Praxedes: Team work and understanding each other has really helped us. We thank God that our children are disciplined and know what is expected of them. They give us an easy time.
How has your parenting journey been like?
David: It has been full of pleasant memories and lessons. We have three adorable children; Carlton Praise who is in form four, Sheerly Muhonja who is in form one and Prince Well who is in grade three.
Praxedes: We strive to create an environment in which our children can be free to tell us anything that is happening in their lives. We have learnt to be listeners and not just shove commands down on them.
What discipline style do you apply on your children?
David: As a Christian father, I ensure they understand the role of the cane straight from when they are young. But sometimes they try to arm twist us by using scriptures like forgiveness and love. When we correct them, we always make sure they know the reason. Some instances call for talks while others call us to be a little firm.
Praxedes: We have zero tolerance for indiscipline. As Christian parents, we have been given the responsibility to raise our children well. Part of that is correcting them and training them in the right way they should go. Doing it while they are young is very important as they will not depart from the values we inculcate in them. They also know and feel loved by us.
Any advice to married couples?
David: Understand your partner’s weaknesses and embrace them. This has helped us in solving conflict in our marriage. Build your marriage on the proper foundation, which is Christ and everything else will fall into place.
Praxedes: When we were getting married, my father told us to parent each other. This has played a crucial role in our relationship as we help each other grow. When one of us is on the wrong, we correct them in love.