Beth Mugo pays tribute to sweet love of 63 years

Beth Mugo Nicholas Mugo St Andrews PCEA
Nominated senator Beth Mugo with her family during the memorial service of Nicholas Muratha Mugo.

It was a love tried and tested by civil strife, politics and oppressive laws, but it triumphed over all the odds and stood firm for 63 years. 

When Beth Mugo stood to pay her last respects and bid goodbye to her husband, the Nominated Senator took close friends and relatives through the journey of her life.

During the memorial service at St Andrews PCEA church in Nairobi, Mugo recalled how their love story survived many odds, including being apart a day after their wedding.

She said her love with Nicholas Mugo bloomed on September 13, 1958, when she was only 19. After their wedding, there was no elaborate honeymoon.

Nicholas had to travel to Nairobi immediately but Beth could not accompany him to Nairobi since she did not have a passbook. The government at the time denied Kenyans freedom of movement.

“I remember after our wedding on Saturday 13, 1958, the very next day, you (Nicholas) had to leave for Nairobi because you had to be at work on Monday, leaving me back in Ng’enda village because I did not have a passbook,” recalled Senator Mugo.

“When you came back home the next weekend, I insisted on travelling back with you to the city even without the passbook. I remember how you calmly explained to the colonial officer who came knocking at the door at night in our one-roomed house in Bahati to flush out those who did not have passbooks that we were newly married.”

“Your calmness convinced him and he agreed to issue me with a passbook the next morning,” she said.

Nicholas Mugo with his wife Beth during their 61st anniversary at St Andrew Church, Nairobi. [File, Standard]

Mboya airlifts

She further recalled how after the couple had their first child, Nicholas would get an opportunity to study in the US. He was among Kenyans airlifted for further studies to the US through the efforts of the late Tom Mboya and the Late Dr Julius Kiano.

“In 1959, when you broke to me the news about your decision to travel to the US for further studies, I was devastated because you were going to leave me behind and we had just got our first child, Mumbi,” she said.

She said her husband supported her journey into leadership and politics. She started with leading the Kenya Business and Professional Women Club and later became the vice president of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women.

His children remembered him as a father, protector, provider, teacher and disciplinarian.

“He would take a great deal of time to gently explain things to us children and to bring us back to the right path, even if we were very far down the wrong path. Dad was patient. His patience and kindness kept us grounded even in adulthood,” said Mugo Muratha who read the tribute.

As a career diplomat, Mugo served as Kenya’s ambassador in various countries among them France, Ethiopia, the Vatican and Yugoslavia.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was among the dignitaries who attended the memorial service. He eulogised Nicholas as a great servant who left a mark wherever he went.

President Uhuru Kenyatta consoles with the family of the late Nicholas Muratha Mugo.

Political family

“He was not a loud man, patient while listening and for him to live with political family shows he had great love and was always there,” President Uhuru said in his speech.

He said: “I cannot remember the time he missed a family gathering. He was a man of great integrity and helped to build a foreign presence.”

Co-operative Bank chief executive Gideon Muriuki said Mugo was a patriot.

“He will be remembered by all of us as one among the proud generation of African pioneers who demonstrated a keen sense of patriotic duty by serving the nation with great dedication throughout their entire working life,” said Muriuki.

His brother-in-law, Ngengi Muigai, noted the family accepted her husband wholeheartedly, with their mother always reminding them that he was one of her children and should be treated as such.

“He was our elder brother indeed and everything. He treated us like his young brothers and never denied us anything. He was a generous man,” said Ngengi.