With the world continueing to open up by day and cultural barriers in regards to courtship or companionship loosening up, cross-cultural marriages are no longer a strange phenomenon.
In Kenya, thousands of people are married to foreigners and vice versa, better yet, a few have married into decorated and prominent families abroad.
In this article, WoK narrows down on a few Kenyan women who are married to prominent foreigners.
Kristina Pratt or Kristina Wambui Kenyatta is the eldest daughter of Founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Mama Ngina Kenyatta. She is President Uhuru Kenyatta’s elder sister.
She is a special education teacher by profession and is the founder of facilities for the disabled and an ambassador for the visually impaired in Africa. She has served as the president of the National Fund for the Disabled in Kenya.
Kristina is married to Victor Pratt who is the nephew of William Tubman – Liberia’s longest-serving president who served from 1944 until his death in 1971. Tubman Road in Nairobi’s CBD is named in his honour.
Victor’s cousin, Winston Tubman, is a prominent Liberian politician who served as a Cabinet Minister and unsuccessfully vied for the presidency in 2011.
Victor is based in Kenya and is currently Chairman of the Retirement Benefits Authority. He was first appointed to the position in May 2016 and was re-appointed, by the then Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, in May 2019.
Pratt has previously served in the transport, telecommunications, and energy sectors where he was involved in small business development.
Victor and Kristina have four children.
Jessica Olsson, born to a Swedish father and Kenyan mother, Njeri Waikwa, from Nanyuki, is married to retired German basketball player Dirk Nowitzki.
Nowitzki played for the for the Dallas Mavericks of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and is identified by fans and fellow athletes as the greatest player to ever play for the Dallas-based team.
The future NBA hall of famer retired in April 2019, after 21 seasons.
Jessica met Nowitzki at a charity event in 2010 that had been organised for sports.
At the time, she worked at the Dallas Art Gallery. The legendary basketball player immediately became smitten with Jessica and they began dating.
“I think we just clicked intellectually. She likes art, she likes sports. Her brothers both played soccer. She grew up around sports. We both love tennis and we love to travel. We both love kids and family,” Nowitzki told Dallas News at the time.
The couple tied the knot in 2012. First, in a traditional ceremony at Nanyuki, and a formal wedding at the family’s home in Dallas, Texas.
In 2020, Nowitzki was part of the delegation that accompanied President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier to Kenya where they were hosted to a State Banquet by President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.
The Kenyan-born woman made history in 1986, when she was appointed as the first female cabinet minister in Seychelles.
Rita met her Sychellois husband Guy Sinon in the 1960s when he had come to Kenya to study the trade union movement. She went back to Sychelles with him and joined politics in 1970, where she led the Women’s League at its inception.
Guy Sinon served as the Minister for Foreign Affairs between 1977 and 1979. Their son, Peter Sinon, who was born in 1966, also served as a Minister of Investment, Natural Resources, and Industry from 2010 to 2015.
Gichoki Rose Wanjiko
Wanjiko was a beneficiary of Tom Mboya’s scholarship programme and left the country to study at Clarke College in Iowa, USA.
Due to her hard work, she was one of the pioneer African students at Harvard University where she met the love of her life, Lawrence Baraebibai Ekpebu. The two later got married.
Ekpebu was the first African to graduate from Harvard and rose to become a very prominent figure in the world of academia. He was a renowned Nigerian scholar, administrator and diplomat.
Wanjiko’s husband served as a commissioner under Commander Alfred Diete-Spiff. He was also appointed as the Nigerian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Cote d’Ivoire by General Muhammadu Buhari.
He passed away in January 2022 aged 86 years.
Prof Wambui Karanja
She is married to Prof Vremudia Diejomaoh, one of the most respected economists in Nigeria.
Wambui met Prof Diejomaoh while studying in the US and they became close. Diejomah and Wanjiko’s husband, Ekpebu were friends.
It was Ekpebu who gave Wambui away during her wedding in 1966.
“At a personal level, our family had the privilege of knowing this very kind and generous man for decades. My husband Prof. Diejomaoh first met Prof. Ekpebu at Princeton University in 1961.
“Five years later, He gave me away during my wedding and subsequently, his beloved wife of blessed memory, was my chief bride’s maid. She was more than a brother to me,” Wambui wrote in her tribute to Ekpebu.
The veteran Mother-In-Law actress Elizabeth Wanjiru popularly known as ‘Charity’ was married to Ugandan politician Shem Bageine.
Bageine is the former Minister of State for East African Affairs in the Ugandan Cabinet, a position he was appointed to in 2015. He is also an ex officio member of parliament.
The prominent Ugandan politician met Wanjiru while both were students at Makerere University. They were both members of the Drama Club.
“We later got transferred to the University of Nairobi and he followed me here. We started the Drama Club at UoN before we got married and started a family here in Nairobi,” Wanjiru recounted during a past interview.
The two were married for 13 years before they divorced in 1981.
“It was a bad time due to what was going on in his home country where Idi Amin was wreaking havoc. He was very ambitious and political and I did not want that life so he left never to come back. We never divorced, however, but remained estranged.”