A campus love story led to the altar
When Jeff Ndidi and Rachel Murugi began dating in 2015, they did not know that they would have to wait seven years before they could solemnise their union. They share their not-so-straight journey to the altar with MARIA MANU.
Jeff and Rachel first interacted in 2015 along the corridors of Moi University hostels. They later worked together when Rachel was vying for a student leadership position. Being more conversant with politics, Jeff volunteered to be her chief campaigner. During the election period, they spent a reasonable amount of time together. Rachel’s impression of Jeff was that he was handsome and dedicated; while Jeff thought Rachel was brilliant, a career woman, and a good cook. At the time, they strictly maintained a working relationship.
Though they lost the election, their friendship grew stronger and blossomed into romance in 2016 – after five months of knowing each other.
“The election was a hard season. But, it made us learn about each other’s true colours,” says Rachel, an entrepreneur, social psychologist, and social media manager.
They were both in their final year of university when Rachel discovered she was pregnant. The timing wasn’t right, but they both agreed to raise their child together. Jeff thought it wise to meet Rachel’s parents and ask for their blessing to start a family. Luckily for him, they were open-minded and supportive and went ahead to bless the couple. They also did not ask for dowry.
Jeff’s aunt, who took care of him after his parents passed on, was not supportive of his decision to start a family at a young age. But this did not deter his plans to take care of Rachel and their unborn child.
“My aunt expected me to finish the university and get a job before starting a family. She was right, of course, but we had this situation at hand that couldn’t wait for me to complete my studies. It took her a long time to accept our decision, which estranged our relationship,” says Jeff, an entrepreneur, men and father coach, and social psychologist.
However, with the blessings of Rachel’s parents, they went ahead to start a family, notwithstanding the financial challenges. The desire to have a wedding still burned within them, but they could not have one at the time.
A flicker of hope finally appeared in 2021 after they joined their church – One Tribe. A couple at the church who knew their story encouraged them to take a leap of faith and set a wedding date. However, they still had to grapple with financial difficulties, having been forced to shut their business due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
They also now had two children to take care of. Moreover, Jeff still had to pay dowry before the wedding. The process further proved difficult without anyone from his paternal side representing him during their negotiations.
Luckily, their church family stepped in and represented Jeff during the dowry negotiation ceremony, offering psychological and financial support as they planned for the wedding. They both wanted a simple but elegant event, nothing too extravagant. And so they opted not to hire any service providers, with Rachel doing most of the decor for their African-themed wedding.
Wedding at last!
After seven years of waiting, Rachel and Jeff exchanged their vows on March 13, 2022, at One Tribe Church in a small intimate gathering of approximately 100 guests.
During their time together, the couple has weathered many challenges, which eventually made them stronger. For instance, after their wedding, Jeff caught a severe bout of chicken pox that left him incapacitated and entirely dependent on Rachel.
Taking care of her sick husband and their children while still trying to run their business put a strain on their marriage. The parents of two adorable boys, however, emerged stronger and with valuable lessons.
For Jeff, marriage has taught him the importance of teamwork and spending quality time together. He advises young couples that hard times should bring couples together rather than create a rift. Rachel’s most important lesson has been to be gentle with her partner. She also encourages couples to understand each other’s personalities and to be there for each other.