In this day and age it is not unusual to find couples breaking up after a short time of dating, and not uncommon for marriages to end on a whim.
With Valentine’s Day only days away, some believe the day has become more about the occasion, dressing up in red and presenting flowers than the actual celebration of love.
Konsetta and Norbert Kathindi recently celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary, having officially tied the knot in October 1958. Now 77 and 83 respectively, the couple lives in Onanime, a village nearby Oshakati where they have been residing since their wedding day.
Konsetta explains that they got married during a time when couples were expected to resolve their issues without terminating the marriage or separating and their commitment to each other has kept them together all these years.
During their heyday, it was traditionally accepted that a man would go searching for a lady to wed, and the two noticed each other from church gatherings and school but never spoke. Norbert informed his family about his intentions to marry Konsetta and they, in turn, informed her family and talks between the families began.
“He bought me an engagement ring, but we did not immediately get married. He worked at Consolidated Diamond Mines (CDM) (now Namdeb). He would only visit during the holidays and bring me gifts,” Konsetta happily recalls.
In time, as per tradition, a woman was sent from Norbert’s house to Konsetta’s dripping in traditional oil, to announce the wedding was very close. They got married at Okatana Catholic Church in front of close friends and relatives, some of whom are still alive to this day.
In 1959 they had their first born, Reinhorb. More children followed, seven to be exact. “We always wanted to have girls. I love my boys but having a daughter would have been lovely, but God has made up for it as we now have plenty of granddaughters,” Konsetta says.
With Onanime being the biggest of villages, they did not feel the impact of the war for liberation until the latter years. The older sons went to into exile while the younger ones remained at home.
“Around 1978 the war would get worse and worse,” says Norbert. “Some the liberation fighters would pass by our house and we would help them and for that we suffered. The whites would beat us.” He recalls a sewing machine they had in the house that they would use to repair the clothes of the liberation fighters.
When independence came, they were reunited with the children who had left for exile.
Every year they celebrate their wedding anniversary in December when most of the family can be around and at the last one, an innumerable group of daughters-in-law, grandchildren and even great grandchildren gathered to celebrate their commitment to each other.
“It is beautiful to see them all there. Even though we have lost two sons, the Lord has also blessed us,” Konsetta says. She also boasts that she and her husband have the oldest marriage in and around the surrounding villages.
As Norbert has significantly aged, it is now Konsetta’s turn to take care of him. She makes sure he is fed, washed and healthy even though he has the mind of a youth and would like to do everything on his own. With his failing memory, she reminds him of all the good times they had.
“When we got married, we had to stick together through good times and bad times. Of course it helped that Norbert never laid a hand to harm me. My advice to the youth is that they should follow our example. They get married today and we celebrate their wedding and tomorrow they’re divorced, it’s a shame. We will be together until death.”