We found love in our arranged marriage

Friday, July 10th, 2020 00:00 |
Solomon Ocampo, his wife Elizabeth Muyu. Photo/PD/HARRIET JAMES

Elizabeth Muyu wanted her Prince Charming tall, well groomed, a singer-cum pastor who would also double up as an instrumentalist. Solomon Ocampo’s ideal wife was a Filipino, just like him… yet his parents brought the two together.

Harriet James  @harriet86jim

In a globalised society where people meet, fall in love, date, then get married, an arranged marriage might sound a bit old school to many. 

In this age, arranged marriages, are a rarity. Yet Solomon Ocampo and Elizabeth Muyu decided to test the waters and six years later, they don’t regret this decision.

“He is a Filipino and they came to Kenya as missionaries. His father is a bishop.

They settled in Kenya in 2005, though they had been coming here on and off since the 80s.

By the time they settled in Kenya, I had moved to the US for Bible School. When I came back, he had gone back to the Philippines.

Our families knew each other way before we met. But all I knew about them was that they were 12 children.

I would see them and was close to some of his siblings. But Solomon was a total stranger,” narrates Liz, as she is fondly known.

For Solomon, an ideal wife would have been Filipino since he was patriotic to his country.

On the other hand, Liz had a long list of the kind of man she wanted—tall, well groomed, singer-cum-pastor who would double up as an instrumentalist. But unlike Solomon, she didn’t mind any race. 

Family introduction

But this ideal picture was shattered at a family dinner in 2012. One of Liz’s friends wanted to shop for a wedding gown.

So Liz and her family decided to travel to Philippines for a mini vacation to assist her friend.

Solomon’s family hosted them for two weeks. Then one day as they were having dinner, Liz received the most shocking news in her life. 

“His father told us he had received a revelation from God that I would be Solomon’s wife. I was lost for words. 

I asked, ‘does God really want me in an arranged marriage? Is this the way to go’” recalls Liz.

Solomon, however, was not shocked— his parents had arranged marriages for his elder siblings. But for Liz, it was unheard of. 

“It is just a family thing my parents started for us. And, all my siblings have gone through it. They pray and wait upon the Lord.

And when they believe they have a lead or an impression from God as to who our future spouse would be, they open it up to the family of the person and to the person himself or herself and see what they think about it.

It is definitely voluntary, anyone is free to choose otherwise, or indeed even in the middle of it, to choose to back out. They also ask us if we would like to go in that direction,” explains Solomon. 

Liz came back from the Philippines, but in the confusion, she even broke the betrothal.

But Solomon pursued her as he firmly believed in his parent’s revelation on Liz being his missing rib. With time, love won.

“I discovered Solomon and I shared the same values such as no sex before marriage and the fear of God.

We decided to define our love according to the Bible in 1 Corinthians 13. Then we began the process. Love is not a feeling. Feelings come and go.

Then what? So ours is a story of God’s love revealed within us to us,” she says. The two tied the knot on November 22, 2014. 

Blended cultures

Solomon had lived in Kenya prior so it was not hard adapting to Kenyan ways. However, the two had a lot of differences in terms of language, dressing, music and food.

“Solomon was kind of a casual dresser. I would want him in a suit and he would be in jeans and a polo T-shirt and consider himself dressed for an occasion. I nagged him about this, but he didn’t change.

Eventually he would notice in gatherings he was the most casual in the group setting and slowly by slowly, he switched his style.

As for music, I love  our local music and play it all the time. He had to get used to that kind of noise as his kind of music was laid back,” shares Liz.

Liz didn’t like seafood, which was Solomon’s favourite. He didn’t like matoke.  Now she can eat any kind of seafood while Solomon find matoke yummy. 

“We have three children. They speak English for now and a little Kiswahili. Their Kiswahili is about 30 per cent loading.

But eventually we want them to speak all three languages— English, Kiswahili and Filipino.

Also, since my mother is from Uganda and it’s a country that I have rich heritage from, I would like my children to also learn the culture and some Kamba from dad’s side,” adds Liz. 

Eventually, the couple have found their groove and made it work. The common experience for both of them is that they are both pastors’ children and have enjoyed both the prominence and the price of being under constant scrutiny by the congregation, harsh judgments from people and their parents’ high expectations of them. 

Liz decrys the negative vibe from Kenyans directed to biracial couples, especially in downtown Nairobi.

“It is ridiculous how Kenyan throw insults at biracial couples,” she says. However, the two have learnt to avoid such talk and focus on their love

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