Flora Fadzai Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
KHULU Sibanda and Gogo MaNgwenya never get tired of responding when asked how they have managed to stay married for 60 years in an age where divorcing is no longer frowned upon.
There is no mystery formula to their longstanding union — they attribute it all to God who declared in Mark 10:9 “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate”.
On Wednesday the couple celebrated their 60th marriage anniversary at a colourful ceremony. The event was meant to celebrate the couple’s love story that has been full of laughter and tears.
Cracking jokes, the soft-spoken lovers took Saturday Chronicle back to 1960 when they first met. Khulu Sibanda was a teacher at a school in Nkayi when he was charmed by the beautiful MaNgwenya who used to pass by on her way to fetch water.
He said approaching her was not easy as the then 20-year-old MaNgwenya was a hard nut to crack and did not want to hear anything from the local boys. Khulu said it was after trying for a long time that she agreed to speak to him.
“I remember when I was courting her I had three more girlfriends and I told myself I would choose one out of the four that I now had. When I finally won her heart, I discovered that though she was soft-spoken, she was not a pushover character,” said Khulu Sibanda.
He said after a year of dating, he was convinced Gogo MaNgwenya was the woman he wanted to marry. Khulu Sibanda said when he realised that many men were also trying to win her heart, he quickly introduced her to his family and in no time she was pregnant with their first son.
They were blessed with 12 children, six boys and six girls. Four of the children are now late.
“We officially married in December 1962 and that is why this month is very precious to us. Now look at where we are 60 years later,” he said.
The wedding anniversary ceremony which was held in Bulawayo’s Barbourfields suburb saw Gogo MaNgwenya, who was wearing a beautiful white wedding gown, being given the famous makoti parade as she walked on mats to join her husband at the top table.
Gogo MaNgwenya said the 60 years have not been easy but because they put their marriage and love before God, they have conquered many of the hardships that they have encountered.
“Love and respect conquer all. We have loved each other since day one and we both believe God has answers for everything. In all these years, my husband has never attempted to raise his hand at me. Whenever we have a misunderstanding, we sit down and discuss the issue and look for a way forward,” she said.
Gogo MaNgwenya said when she first saw Khulu Sibanda she knew he was the husband she had been waiting for. She said as a couple, they complement each other and as such she has never felt alone.
“I promised to love him in sickness and in health and I have kept my promise. As you can see, he is now old and frail, he now has one eye and is hard of hearing,” she said.
Gogo MaNgwenya said young couples should appreciate that marriage involves spiritual, emotional and physical closeness hence they should surrender their relationship to God.
“Many young couples easily give up hence their marriages do not last. Marriages need men and women made of sterner stuff who can face challenges head on. The couples should understand that patience is virtue,” she said.