The Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU)-Kenya is synonymous with Francis Atwoli. The bullish secretary general is a man who makes news with near abandon and seems to relish the limelight. Atwoli was the talk on social media platforms after he reportedly married wife number four in a hushed ceremony held in Kilifi. These reports shared by Jamila Mbugua were rubbished by the trade unionists. So who are his three known wives? This is what we know about them.
Jenifer Khainza Atwoli
She has largely kept off the media limelight and is hardly seen with her husband. Atwoli has kind words for his first wife, Jenifer Khainza Atwoli, saying she “respects our marriage” unlike his second wife Roselinda Simiyu who went all hammer and tongs when he kicked her out of their Kileleshwa address.
This is probably Atwoli’s most tumultuous and dramatic relationship so far. The Cotu boss married Roselinda in 1996 after lying to her that he was a divorcee. She was 30 at the time and Atwoli was 47. Roselinda was a mother of three and bore Atwoli two children. The trade unionist told Jeff Koinange, on the JKL Show aired on Citizen TV, that he had separated with his wife after she opted to join elective politics against his wishes.
“The reason I asked her not to pursue politics was that I needed somebody to take care of me. Since she joined politics, I married Kilobi so that she attends to me,” he said.
Roselinda ran for Webuye West parliamentary seat and lost. The estranged second wife said he had no problem with Atwoli marrying another wife but he was not the same man he knew from the start.
She told Radio Jambo how she had invested heavily on Atwoli to be where he is today:
“I want him to remember how I supported him during those times when he had nothing. When he wanted to be the Central Organisation Of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss I used to cook for the delegates without anyone to help me but he has forgotten all that. I miss him because we lived together for 22 years and it was a good marriage. We were so free and happy together, joked about everything and we had a good life and he was a good husband and a dad.”
She is a Kenyan Swahili news anchor who made headlines when she got married to Atwoli who is 35 years her senior. The two are seemingly happy together, the age difference notwithstanding. The Cotu SG spends quality time with his wife in their Kajiado address that is the envy of many. They married in 2018.
Atwoli said it was his second wife decision to enter politics that prompted him to marry wife number three:
“I asked my second wife not to involve herself with politics but she chose that path. The reason I was asking her not to pursue politics was because I needed somebody to take care of me and since she joined politics, I married Mary so that she attends to me”
Atwoli reportedly marries number four
Jamila Mbugua set twitter on fire when she claimed that the Cotu secretary general had married wife number four. She claimed that the SG had married a 23 year old muslim girl from the coast. For now, we treat it as a rumor.
Responding to those reports, Atwoli said:
“That is a lazy rumor from some idle Kenyan. I was at the coast with my wife Mary. In any case, there is no problem in marrying but if I have to do that I do it publicly not hiding from anyone..”