The love life of 29-year-old Brenda Jepkorir and 50-year-old Ssemakula Mukiibi has been rocked by resistance and disapproval from different quotas around the pair, especially those related to Ms Jepkorir, who term the couple’s 21-year age gap to be “too wide” for the “young” Brenda to perceive as “acceptable”.
Ms Jepkorir, a writer, and Mr Mukiibi, a blogger-cum-computer scientist, met online six years ago, and their relationship has yielded a son, who is 4 years old today.
“Every time when people see us together, it is a problem. Some people think that he is my dad,” Ms Jepkorir said on Switch TV’s “Real Talk”, where the couple was interviewed.
“We first met online. There was this conversation that the world was ending in 2011, and some people were making conclusions about things without thinking [deeply] through them. So, we began online conversations with intellectuals, who had philosophical approaches to looking at things around the [controversial] topics. I love thinkers. That is what I found in my husband. Every time I wanted to read what he was saying; we shared and conversed. That is how I got to love him,” said the mother-of-one.
On his part, Mr Mukiibi, who has Ugandan roots, said Ms Jepkorir’s brains “turned him on”.
“I am a sapiosexual; I get turned on by brains than looks and stuff. She had a unique way of expressing herself, a unique way of writing. She is a brilliant writer. She has a way of writing, talking, doing things which really touch me. Well, things happened. I love brains, she loves brains, and that is why we got together. Maybe, we did not notice the difference between us,” said Mr Mukiibi.
Always sporting a crinkly grey hair and beard, Mr Mukiibi has been mistaken – often – for Ms Jepkorir’s father.
“I have been in a situation, where I am walking with our son and her [Jepkorir], and somebody would say: ‘Are you his grandfather?’ I am like: ‘That is my son’,” said Mr Mukiibi, playing down the incessant “unfair” remarks: “We have gotten used to it. I don’t think we thought of it at the time we were starting our relationship. Our age difference is 21.”
Ms Jepkorir says despite her husband’s advancing years, she feels he is still “young at heart”.
“My husband is really young at heart. When I read him [online], I thought he was a young person. When I read people online, I never look at their profile pictures. Because of his [creative] expression, I thought he was a young person. When we met, I still really liked the way he looked at the world, and it was not his age,” said Ms Jepkorir.
The 29-year-old says she faced resistance and even hostility, when she informed her close friends and relatives that she was dating a man, who is 21 years her senior.
“I lost close friends because they could not approve of my relationship. There was enmity between me and family. Some family members really found it an issue that I was dating an old guy. I did not have a problem with the relationship, but the people around me had a problem with it. My husband is kind, good; I enjoy spending time with him. I did not understand why people [close to me] had issues [with our relationship],” said Ms Jepkorir.
Unlike his wife, Mr Mukiibi did not face any resistance, when he informed the people close to him that he had fallen in love with a woman 21 years his junior.
“I don’t have children from previous relationships. There were no hindrances as to why I should get into a relationship with her. I am an independent thinker and people expected me to do anything. I kind of had it easy,” said Mr Mukiibi.
Ms Jepkorir says their age gap has not been an issue, when it comes to tackling generational differences because “we communicate”.
“With age, there are things that he would have a better understanding than I do, and there are things that I would have a better understanding than he does. We have a way we communicate about what we feel; we give backgrounds to our approaches. That bridges a lot; it becomes like a learning process, and not manifestations of the age gap,” said Ms Jepkorir.
Parenting approaches for the pair, has been challenging, given their quite opposing views. But, Mr Mukiibi says they have found a way of addressing that challenge.
“On parenting, we had different approaches on the way the boy should be brought up. But, with time, we have learnt that the trick to addressing the opposing views is communication between me, her and the child. In my opinion, the moment we will stop communicating is when we will feel the impact of the 20-year age gap,” said Mr Mukiibi.