- N$150,000 splashed on the glittering event at the posh Hilton Windhoek Hotel
By Marianne Nghidengwa
NAMIBIA witnessed its first “gay marriage” in the country when two families gathered to celebrate the wedding nuptials of Mr Gay Namibia, Ricardo Amunjera-Themba and his Francistown-based Motswana business manager “husband”, Marc Themba-Amunjera, at the posh Hilton Windhoek Hotel recently.
Although same-sex marriages are not legal in Namibia and Botswana – the couple’s respective home countries – the two men travelled to South Africa earlier this month to “tie the knot”. Same sex unions are legal in South Africa. Relatives and a handful of friends eager to eyewitness “history in the making” flocked to the Hilton hotel on Saturday, after an estimated N$150,000 was splashed on the glittering affair, and also to celebrate Ricardo’s 30th birthday.
Upon arrival, bustling guests suitably attired were treated to a red carpet reception and champagne. As soon as they were settled, the “groom and bride” clad in black and white made their way to the reception area amid ululations.
The couple was on the spotlight when they exchanged unscripted vows and soon emotions filled the room. Through his persistent tears, Ricardo said: “Ever since I met you (Marc), I never thought I’d stand here. I love you and I’ll always have your back”. Overwhelmed Marc responded by saying: “I loved you instantly when I met you. I saw my future in you. I promise to be there for you and to cherish you”. These touching words had guests reaching for their handbags for tissues to wipe off tears of joy.
The couple proceeded to cut and share the first piece of their three-tiered wedding cake and in no time the union was sealed with a kiss.
The two took to the dancing floor to Whitney Houston’s ‘I will always love you’ hit song. The seemingly shy duo started to giggle as the crowd cheered them on.
It was love at first-Skype when the love birds began their online romance after Marc saw Ricardo on Facebook and started contacting him. Ricardo for two months ignored Marc dismissing him as “just another crazy person”. Marc wasn’t discouraged and eventually persistence led to a whirlwind Skype romance.
The relationship was well received in Marc’s country having earned front page on Botswana’s best-selling newspaper, The Voice. In an interview with The Voice, the couple talked about Ricardo’s, a geological supervisor at Langer Heinrich Uranium mine, first visit to Botswana to meet Marc.
“I was thrilled and a little apprehensive,” Marc said. He further added that he rushed past Ricardo at the airport so he could take refuge in the bathroom.
In the end it turned out to be simple. “Ricardo is the first meaningful relationship of my life. He’s a beautiful shy person. He sometimes comes across as fierce, but he’s a sweetie”.
Although the couple never hid their sexual orientation, they just didn’t “shout about it from the hilltops”. They feel that the future for gay people is looking brighter in their respective countries. “Attitudes are slowly changing, maybe one day the law will too”.
Familiar faces at the event included former Mr Gay Namibia, Wendelinus Hamutenya, who was accompanied by his Motswana gay partner, Jomo Kgaolo. Hamutenya described the union as a new breed of Namibian freedom fighters towards recognising gay rights. “I am so happy for them and hopefully this is a kick-start towards accepting us”. Hamutenya also made use of the platform to announce that his own wedding was on the cards.
Marc’s family said that although he will be miles away from them, they will leave Namibia knowing that he is in good hands.
“We got to know Ricardo and we love him. He is a wonderful guy and we know that he will take good care of our Marc,” said Cynthia Mothelesi, Marc’s sister.
Marc’s long-time friend, Boiki Tema, described him as a man of dignity saying she is proud he found someone as good as him. “I have known Marc since forever. He is a loving and carrying person and I am so glad he found his match,” Tema said.
Many felt that they represent a part of gays that people do not know. “They think we are promiscuous and loud but we are actually classy and good looking people,” said Master of Ceremonies, Milton Xuro, who kept guests entertained with his amusing jokes.
A tearful Ricardo thanked his friends he adoringly called “homo sexy gods” for helping him accept and appreciate the person he is. He also showed gratitude to his family who formed his strong foundation.
“You guys have seen me through different phases and have always been there,” Ricardo said as tears rolled down his cheeks.
As soon as the happy tears dried, the energetic crowd dug into scrumptious food and danced the night away to Awilo Longomba’s Karolina and P Square’s Alingo hit tracks.