Isaac and Farida Migwallah, both in the thirties, have been married since 2004. Despite growing up in very diverse backgrounds, fate brought them together. This amiable couple has gone through several challenges that would easily rock a marriage but with resilience and faith in God, they share a unique bond of love. They shared their story with FAITH MURIGU.
Isaac Migwallah is a geologist while his wife, Farida, previously popularly known as Princess Farida, is a mother, singer and counsellor. They have two daughters, Shekainah Migwallah, five, and Hadassah Migwallah, two and a half years. Isaac says that if he were to choose again, he would still marry Farida. However, marriage has not always been rosy for this lovely couple who have been through a myriad of challenges in pursuit of love.
Born in Nairobi’s Buruburu Estate, Isaac grew up in a strict Christian family and learnt the fear of God in his formative years. His father was a workaholic who provided well for them. Farida, on the other hand, the first born among five siblings of a Kenyan/Arabian father and a Kamba mother, was born in Machakos County and grew up in a strict Muslim family in their rural home in Lamu Island. The family later moved to Nairobi where her spiritual life was moulded in the mosque.
Chakacha dancer is born…
Farida: I always aspired to be at the top and while in form four enrolled for evening classes in business, secretarial and computers. I felt the need to work hard and get a well-paying job to help uplift my family. I secured a job soon after high school but three years later felt bored and yearned for fun and freedom. A colleague at work introduced me to me to a club in Nairobi but when my sister and I went to check it out, we discovered it was a lesbian’s joint. I felt uncomfortable and vowed never to go back.
I identified another club in Westlands and my sister and I would sneak out of home at night and go out to have fun. To fit in the clubbing life, I tried all kinds of alcoholic drinks, but nothing tasted good, so my drinking stopped before it started. What I loved most about this club was the music, as I loved dancing. I approached the management of the club with a request to be performing as a stage dancer. I was invited to audition and they liked my dancing style. I started performing on Sundays during the club’s Jam session.
A celebrated lady dancer from Mombasa was invited to perform at the club and gave an electrifying performance of chakacha dance. This is a Swahili dance style that involves twisting the hips in a seductive manner and is often performed in front of one’s husband, particularly in Swahili weddings. I loved her style of dancing and promised myself to practise until I could perfect it and become as good as her. Within no time, I became so good that everyone loved my style and was crowned the queen of chakacha – a crown I held for two years.
My parents eventually got to know about my dark life when a local daily carried a story about me being crowned the queen of chakacha. They were beside themselves when they saw the daughter they had raised up as a strict Muslim scantily dressed, performing in a nightclub. That was abominable in the Islamic faith.
However, it was too late for my parents to reverse the path I had cut for myself. They tried everything possible to stop me from dancing, including kicking me out of home but when all their efforts failed, perhaps out of frustration and not wanting to lose a daughter, chose to support my dancing career. I became a household name in the Arab countries where I was often invited to perform. Huge banners would announce when Princess Farida was in town and clubs where I performed would fill to capacity.
Fame, money and power…
Farida: Being a chakacha dancer opened many doors for me. I travelled to many parts of the world to perform. Fame, power and money followed me everywhere and I formed a band, which was very successful. My siblings including Kanda king became part of the band.
The biggest test in my career came when my sister was diagnosed with stomach cancer and after consulting many doctors, she eventually resulted to prayer. Her doctor, a Christian, encouraged her to have faith in Jesus Christ who was the ultimate healer. My sister’s cancer went into remission and I believed this was because of prayers offered for her. This was my first encounter with Christianity.
I remember, out of curiosity, going to a crusade at a church at the Embassy Cinema where I made a prayer request for my band and also for the healing of ulcers I had suffered for 17 years. Two of my band members’ passports had been cancelled and I was due for a performance out of the country and this was really troubling me.
I was prepared to pay the pastor to offer prayers for my band and I to this Jesus who healed my sister. Despite telling the pastor I was a Muslim, and being clad in my usual clubbing attire, he didn’t judge me and prayed for me. He even asked God to make me start singing and dancing for Him.
I believe God answered the prayers because my band members’ passports were re-instated and we travelled to Dubai where we were crowned the band of the year. I also received healing. After this experience in church and despite the fame and money and success, I no longer got satisfaction and joy from performing with my band.
The cockpit experience…
Farida: It was one year after this church experience and a very successful show in Dubai when I told my band I was quitting. None of them believed me. As we travelled back home in a Gulf Air flight, one of the flight captains walked to my seat and told me he wanted to teach me how to fly a plane. I ignored him thinking he was one the many fans I had earned through my music career, but he insisted.
I followed him to the cockpit and while there I had an experience that changed my life. The pure white clouds looking so close from the cockpit seemed to be beckoning me to repent my sins and follow Jesus. As soon as we were back in Nairobi, I renounced my Muslim faith and gave my life to Christ.
Isaac meets Farida…
Isaac: I was serving as the head of the protocol ministry in our church in 2002 when Farida joined us as a new believer. There was so much about her that had been published in the media, including her conversion from Islam to Christianity, which shocked her fans. My bishop gave me the mandate to guide her in her new journey of salvation. I guided her on how to read the bible, pray, hear the voice of God and enjoy life in salvation.
She was experiencing some strange dreams and visions and was in need of counselling. Her family had also denounced her due to her new faith, which added to her troubled emotional status. I never imagined of being in a relationship with her. First, I was not of her class – she was a celebrity. Second, her past life in nightclubs was not ideal for me – I had never stepped in one. Third, her previous Muslim faith posed a challenge for me. It came as a great surprise to me when I started developing a liking for her. Unknown to me, the same feeling was also forming in her.
Farida: Isaac helped me in my spiritual growth and I never imagined we would get intimate. One day, he travelled to Uganda to see his pastor. I felt lonely and when he called me we had an open discussion and realised our feelings were mutual.
Isaac: I asked Farida to be my girlfriend in 2003 and she agreed. Happily, I informed our pastor of the new developments and he advised us to keep vigil in prayer. Farida’s upbringing moulded her to be who she is today. Her mother’s strict discipline made her uphold some decency even as a nightclub performer. Most of the people, who frequented the clubs with her, ended up being prostitutes or alcoholics. It was different for her but she still had her own share of challenges. Severally, men had attempted to rape her. They also seductively touched her body during performances, something she detested.
With conviction that she was the girl for me, I organised an elaborate proposal date which was to be in a city hotel on her birthday in 2003. Unfortunately when I went to pick her in the evening for the awaiting surprise, she was in a very foul mood, which warranted a quick change of plans. I made her tea and served it in her favourite cup and put the engagement ring inside. I called her siblings to witness the proposal. Farida agreed to marry me.
Settling down in marriage…
Isaac: For eleven years, Farida had experienced fame and big money. This brought problems early in our marriage. In the clubs, men viewed her as an object and would touch her body carelessly for pleasure and when I married her, she would not let me touch her. Once, she slapped me the same way she used to slap the men in the clubs. Although we had gone through intense counselling at Jubilee Christian Church in Nairobi, the reality of marriage was just settling in.
Farida: Before I became a Christian I lived a reckless life. I caused three marriages to fail in Dubai after having illicit relationships with these married men. They were very determined to win me and so left their wives, something I highly regret today. I am grateful to God for His deliverance and transforming me.
Coping with challenges…
Isaac: Because of her fame and success, my wife was a domineering woman and found it hard to submit to me. This posed a big challenge in our marriage. Though I loved her very much, I felt disrespected. I wanted her to treat me as the head of the family. I sought God’s wisdom on how to handle the situation. Through God’s grace I learnt to lead her without bossing her around. I also had to adjust to the constant attention she received from her fans and the media. Being with Farida is a lesson to me that there are no quick fixes in marriage and you just have to work patiently through challenges.
Farida: When we got married I came in as the head of the family despite having gone through counselling. I didn’t feel the need to tell my husband about my whereabouts or activities. Unlike my husband, I am quite talkative and would take over most of the conversations. I was the ‘know-it-all’ and literally took control of the marriage. It took a while before I got the revelation that marriage is not about competition but complementing each other.
Isaac: We had several trivial arguments in the beginning and life was miserable. For the sake of the relationship we learnt to calm down and accommodate each other and that was when we started enjoying our marriage. Although we still have disagreements, as is expected of any relationship, we choose when and where to sort them out. We have had financial challenges, death of loved ones, loss of jobs, and even a miscarriage, but these have made us value each other even more.
Handling in-laws was an issue at first because my parents did not accept Farida owing to her background. We prayed over the issue and purposed to have each other’s interests at heart. We refused to entertain any family member interfering with our relationship.
Farida: Marriage has taught me to a better person. After going through the teething problems, we have emerged stronger, happier and deeper in love. We lost our first pregnancy through a miscarriage and this dealt a big blow to us. We mourned together and this drew us closer. We thank God to have blessed us with two wonderful daughters.
Though at the beginning I was frustrated that Isaac was not helping out as much as I expected with taking care of the children, we have learnt to communicate better and iron out any issues that may exist. We have learnt and accepted our joint and individual roles as parents and are happily raising our daughters together.
On sexual intimacy…
Isaac: We have worked hard to make sex successful for us by striving to satisfy each other and locking every loophole that the devil may want to bring our way. My wife detested sex in the early days of our marriage but with guidance, communication and prayers, we enjoy ourselves without inhibitions.
Farida: We have learnt to be friends because love, as a feeling, sometimes goes away but when you are friends you are assured of happy days ahead. We have common interests and are currently working on transforming young people’s lives through a forum called transformation encounter.
Isaac: Having been through lack and abundance in equal measure, we have learnt to be content. We started off with little in 2004 and with God’s help and people of goodwill, we had a classic wedding at Safari Park Hotel. We were left with enough money to start our home. We have set up financial measures that guide us and are open with each other about all areas of our lives. Ours has been a journey of faith.
Published on May 2013