As is often the case with traditional weddings, a cheery mood pervaded the carefully selected venue.

Food and drinks flowed amid song and dance and, as they say, love was in the air.

Only that this was no ordinary wedding.

For, while residents of Mataarba village had witnessed many such events, the union between 19-year-old Hawaa Roble and Mr , Abdullah Gardale 93, struck many as bizarre.

The pomp and colour on display on the couple’s big day belied the fact that they had fought off protests by friends and family for months on end. At one point they had been forced to run away from it all.

Abdullah Gardale

When word went round that Ms Roble was dating someone 74 years her senior, many termed the union unfair and unacceptable. There were spirited attempts to dissuade the teenager from continuing with the relationship, but she would have none of that. 

To everyone’s surprise, Ms Roble stood her ground, always professing her love for the nonagenarian.

“Our age-mates are timid and insensitive. It has become more difficult to reason with a man of my age than it is to reason with a much older man,” she told the Nation in an interview, adding that for her, it is better to get half a cup than nothing.

Smarting from a heartbreak

Ms Roble waxes nostalgic about the day she met her new lover in Kipini in Garsen, Tana River County.

The then 18-year-old was smarting from a heartbreak wrought by her youthful fiancé, who had just disappeared from her life without any reason or explanation. 

She told the Nation that she had waited for one long year for her suitor, who was her age-mate, to resurface and for marriage rites to begin, but to no avail.

Pic for illustration purposes only

“He did not give any reasons for leaving, not even an alert. He just disappeared and all I heard were rumours that he had been spotted in some places. I have not seen him to this day and his family has never said anything about his whereabouts,” she explained.

It is in these circumstances that she met Mr Gardale. She reckoned that, while the man was clearly many years older than her previous suitor, his “old-school vibe” had her smitten.

So opposed to the relationship were her relatives that some confronted the old man, telling him to his face that he was out to ruin their daughter’s life.

“Most of my uncles and brothers were opposed to the relationship, but I was contented. For once I now had a sense of belonging and the old man was loving and smart enough for me,” she narrated.

According to Ms Roble’s relatives, Mr Gardale was too old to meet the emotional desires of a 19-year-old.

The woman’s relatives claimed the man was emotionally unstable, adding that he had divorced two women and two had died.

Opposition to nascent relationship

They argued it was a matter of time before he ditched Hawaa.

Undeterred by these claims, Ms Roble eloped with the old man. They settled in Malindi, away from the wall of opposition that had greeted their nascent relationship.

“We had to leave for a while and let people wean themselves off our affairs. We wanted peace,” she says.

When it became clear that there was no stopping the two love birds, Ms Roble’s family reached out to that of Mr Gondale and a truce was reached that paved the way for the recognition of their union.

The two sides then agreed on the traditional rites leading up to marriage and “nikah” was scheduled for Monday this week (July 12, 2021).

“My husband is wise and strong. Those who think he is worthless should hear it from me. I am the wife and I have the actual testimony,” she enthused.

Mr Gardale was equally effusive in his admiration for his new bride.

“I have been criticised and many have said what they had to say. They have a right to their opinions just as we have a right to be happy,” he said.

By Nation Africa

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