29 Yrs Old Maria Muinde’s tribute to her husband.
A tribute to a spouse isn’t something a lady expects to write at 29 years of age. I met Tony in Strathmore University when both of us started our undergraduate degrees in 2010. Though we were pursuing different courses, we shared similar units. We started talking when we met in class and outside the compound. He had a beautiful smile and a calm demeanor. He was soft spoken. People always teased me of my ability to listen to his conversations because of how slow he spoke. I found it enchanting.
Whenever we had a shared lecture, he’d come sit with me. I remember how he used to make my friends giggle when he’d peep through the door’s window when our lecture was about to end, motioning for me to save him the seat next to me. I remember introducing him to my BBIT friends so that he can be a part of our circle. From then on, a beautiful friendship was born.
I had just returned to Kenya from New Zealand. I had this peculiar accent at the time that he was curious to know where I acquired it from. When I told him it’s “Kiwi”, he was amazed. He immediately identified with New Zealand and the Kiwis love for rugby. He told me about his passion for rugby and went on and on talking about his dreams of playing for Kenya’s rugby national teams.
Other than his smile and dark chocolate complexion that I loved, we bonded over Rugby. He invited me to his games. I showed up. Over the years, I have watched his games at the rugby pitch sidelines. I have watched him transition from Impala RFC, to Strathmore Leos RFC, getting his first call up for Kenya 7s then Kenya 15, as well as other international invitational tournaments. After graduating, he moved to Homeboyz RFC, then to KCB RFC and now Heaven RFC.
I’ve had the privilege of traveling with him across the country following his games. I resumed my cheerleader position barely 6 months after giving birth to our son. I’ve breastfed on the sidelines while singing rugby chants rooting for him and my rugby family to hit FM scores whether he was playing for the local circuit or national teams. Rugby chants that will require me to go for confession if at all I want to stand a chance of making it to heaven. He accorded me respect that made his teammates treat me as family.
Tony proudly referred to me as “My Lady”, even when he let me wear his rugby merchandise for my own comfort. It troubledp some of his teammates why he’d choose a tomboy over the crop tops and booty shorts at the rugby pitch sidelines. What they didn’t know is the charm laid in my ability to fry meat like my Father and cook nice, soft layered chapatis like my Mother.
Over the 10 years I have known Tony, we’ve progressed from being each others classmates, best friends, lovers, prayer warriors, cheer leaders and parents.
As a classmate, he’d raise his hand to ask questions after my presentations so that I can get grilled by the lecturer. In return, I ones called his phone while he was presenting. It was one of those red loud China phones. The funny thing is his ringtone was ‘Cow and chicken’ cartoon theme song. Even the strict Ms. Muthoni Ng’ang’a couldn’t hold her laughter. Don’t mind me, I was young and silly.
As my best friend, I loved how humble he was. An attribute that didn’t change even after receiving numerous call ups to play for the national teams. He was and will always be my silent voice of reason.
As a lover, he was unmatched. Not very many men can stand to be with an opinionated headstrong woman. He was stubborn too. Still, he compromised. We’d agree to disagree. We would seat down and talk. We’d reach a consensus, then move on with our lives. You know he was raised by an honourable man because he’d fulfil his promises.
As a prayer warrior and cheerleader, he was the best any human being could ask for. He stood in the gap for me numerous times when life kept throwing curve balls at me. He cheered me on and spoke positivity over my life and my fear of failure.
As a parent, I thank God that he took so much pride in being my partner and the father to my son. I thank God that our son got to spend time with him. His dream was to hear Shane speak again after he regressed before his official autism with ADHD diagnosis. I thank God that he heard him calling him “Dada”, before the diagnosis. I thank God that he chose to stand by me when we became young parents, even when running away from responsibilities would have made sense. I thank God that he went above and beyond to provide for us even when the employment industry wasn’t too kind to him. I thank God that he purposed to spend quality time with us regardless of our financial situation at any given time.
Above all else, I thank God that Tony experienced nothing short of unconditional love and kindness in the hands of my family. I am envious of the bond he had with my Mum. My Mum is a combination of all the elements; Ice, fire, water…you name it. Through Tony, I got to see an extremely beautiful side of her that had been masked from my siblings and I behind years of tough love and strict parenting. Theirs was a unique bond. To unique, the thought of picking a fight with Tony and the news getting to my Mum would send the fear of God down my spine. She was compassionate and empathized with him. She prayed for him and over us as a young family. She spoke nothing but blessings, and decreed and declared God’s providence over our lives. She would even go as far as hosting priests for holy mass at her house whenever we visited. Mum really adored Tony.
As for my Dad, he is a man of very few words. Tough as nails. Still, he took him in as his own child. I remember during our “Ntheo” ceremony upon being asked to give a definite price tag for my expected dowry, he refused. He went ahead to tell Tony to focus on providing for us and settling all the utility bills first before he even thinks of how much he’ll pay for my dowry. That at the end of the day, he can put whatever is left in an envelope and bring it to him. Watching them talk about farming and investments was breathtaking.
My siblings loved him so much. Too much that both of my small brothers opted to go to Maseno School as opposed to schools in Makueni that were far much closer to home. They looked up to him so much and wanted to emulate him. You can imagine the confusion on my parents side when they questioned why their sons felt the need to travel across the country to pursue highschool education. I hope that over the 5 years that they’ve spent time with Tony, they found answers to their questions. It must have been pretty convincing because they didn’t slap the taste out of my mouth. So ladies, pick your men wisely. Especially if you’re a firstborn like me.
My only sister, Mercy, takes after our Dad’s Mum. She’s quiet and tends to keep to herself. When I gave birth, she teamed up with Tony to take care of me and Shane. They’d cook for me, make sure our laundry was done, went to the market together to do grocery shopping and kept me company. Their banter was the best. When we started dating, my sister gave Tony a 6 months threshold period. She warned him of my little to no tolerance for nonsense. Tony was a patient man.
On our 6th years anniversary of dating, he contacted her and asked her to repeat what she said 5 and a half years back. They laughed so much and engaged in banter for a while. As a family, we have truly lost. I take comfort in the fact that we had a great run and many amazing memories.
Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth. I am grateful that I got to serve alongside you Love. We have visited sick children in hospital together. We have visited both family and friends in hospital too. We have attended our friends and your former teammates burials together. We have accompanied friends to their parents funerals and grieved with them. We have also joined our friends in celebrations. We dressed up and showed up appropriately in our matching vitenge. We did all these because they were the right thing to do. I love how with you, we were real about who we were and what we stood for.
Love, your kindness has drawn so much support since you passed on. I have not slept a single night on my own till you left us. Our friends have showed up for us in ways only God can reward. They’ve constantly called to check in on us and find out how Shane is fairing on. They’ve made sure that I have freshly cooked food to eat. They have mourned with me, cried with me and prayed over Shane and I.
My prayer for you above all else is that you find mercy before God. You were a good man Hun. I will miss your smile the most and our Netflix and chill sessions. “Chapati Sunday” will never be the same again without you. God knows I went above and beyond for you Love. What I could do for you I did, what I couldn’t do I tried. I will always love you Tony. I promise you that I will go above and beyond to provide for our son. I will knock doors if I have to and fight on my knees so that I can give him the good life you did.
“Eternal rest grant unto Tony Onyango, oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May the soul of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”