Conrad Mupesa Mashonaland West Bureau
THEY say love knows no border, age, and is unconditional; but it is an old adage, ‘Love is blind’, that best describes the union of two inmates at Nazareth Old People’s Home in Chinhoyi.
The tale of the two love birds of Malawian origin started more than six years ago when Sekuru Chitiyo Chimanga (87), then almost blind, fell in love with his sweetheart, Ezeria Mukwanda-Chimanga (82), also partially blind.
Indeed, it is unbelievably true that it sounds like a fairy tale but the inspiring union has power to give hope to whoever has faced any heartbreak, strength to those who want to get married or perhaps those that have spent the greater part of their lives searching for the perfect match to spend the vicissitudes of life with.
Sekuru Chimanga says although he needed someone to give him care and attention, he fell in love with Gogo Mukwanda-Chimanga beyond any measurable doubt as she “was so good to him” despite his poor eyesight.
The two would later get optometry medical care that saw Gogo Mukwanda-Chimanga regaining full eyesight, ending close to 20 years of poor sight while for Sekuru Chimanga, only the right eye was restored to full sight.
“I only realised that although I had fallen in love with her, being with Zeria as my wife was all I needed. Although the workers here provide us with care and assistance, I noticed that I needed someone in my life to spend the remaining years of my life with.
“I proposed to her and she accepted. I would go to her room and spend most of my time with her. She reminded me of my youthful age and turned my world upside down,” he said.
Sekuru Chimanga added that one staffer, Margaret Muzavazi, noticed the two’s movements and encouraged them to get married.
Subsequently, a wedding was conducted at St Peter’s Church and celebrations were held at the home.
The two were in a courtship for less than a year.
The two exchanged vows on 2, July 2017, in front of Father Chasarira at the same church.
“After the wedding, we were given a house that the two of us now share.
The two were once married (traditionally) and blessed with three children each in their previous lives but never wedded.
The proposed wedding idea came as a jest and the actual event presented the two with a dream come true.
“I was married before and had three children. My first husband died more than 20 years ago and I now have two children remaining.
“My first marriage was an ordinary union; I never wedded so when Mary and other staff members from here brought up the idea, it was more of a joke because never in my life did I dream of a wedding, especially with this grey hair and missing teeth. My life has reached its prime so a wedding was a joke of a lifetime,” Gogo Mukwanda-Chimanga said using Shona and Nyanja dialects.
As for Sekuru Chimanga, his first marriage, which he spent the greater part of in Mashonaland Central’s St Albert Mission area, was from an ordinary and common union and his wedding day three years ago remains entrenched in his mind until he breathes his last.
Gogo Mukwanda-Chimanga added: “My friends Mai Chisunga (now late) and Mai (Azvinei) Chisale were the best girls while Mrs Chisale’s husband was Sekuru Chimanga’s best man.”
The Chisale are staffers at Nazareth Old People’s Home.
Just like any normal couple that gets into fights, Sekuru and Gogo Chimanga usually seek help and counselling from their confidants, the Chisales.
“Whenever we have a huge misunderstanding, we usually seek counselling and support from the Chisales. They are our friends and have been so good to us,” Gogo Mukwanda-Chimanga added.
“The love they share has not only strengthened our own relationship but given hope to our youths, particularly from church. Most of them were inspired and have wedded while many have plans to wed as well,” Mrs Chisale said.
As for the counselling and support, she said, they will continue to support the couple to enjoy their days as if they were youthful again.
Victor Makuyana, director at Nazareth Old People’s Home, said the two were a true beacon and symbol of what true love was and called on the youth to emulate the elderly couple.
He said the church sponsored the wedding including the hiring of the gown, and purchase of the rings, and meals.
The Chimanga’s also inspired another old couple at Chengetanai Old People’s Home, a stone’s throw away from Nazareth and the two have since established a homestead in the rural areas of Hurungwe district.
The inspiring story of Sekuru and Gogo Chimanga also explains how a wedding without a flashy honeymoon is possible.
While they wait for the church or well-wishers to spoil them with a sixth-year anniversary, their tale explains how true love still exists and for those still searching for it to never tire nor give up despite age.