As with any other married couple, Simon and Sarah Kabu's marriage has its fair share of troubles. The celebrity couple, known for ostentatious displays of affection, now faces the biggest challenge of their lives.
The couple's troubles are playing out publicly, shattering the image of bliss they have cultivated since they exchanged vows in 2009 - there’s a YouTube video of their wedding.
Sarah and Simon Kabu's Wedding.
With a huge following on social media, the couple has hundreds of thousands of admirers, who see them as role models enjoying their marriage while jointly running a successful travel business. The latest developments have left fans disillusioned.
It all started during the first weekend of April, when Sarah Kabu posted on WhatsApp that her husband, Simon, had taken away their two children, allegedly with the help of police officers. Sarah said she is done with Simon, hence his rushed decision to take the children.
SHOCK AND DISBELIEF
The reaction from the couple's fans ranged from shock to disbelief. Many couldn't accept that the couple they admired for more than a decade was facing hard times. Indeed, Sarah and Simon have been posting on social media every detail of their lives.
In July 2017, Simon bought his wife a new Range Rover luxury car for her 39th birthday. He had a huge cake put on top of a van and driven around Nairobi CBD as a public show of affection for Sarah.
Afterwards, the couple had dinner at an exclusive restaurant in the city. In total, Simon spent about Sh30 million that day! For her 35th birthday, Simon gave Sarah a new Mercedes Benz vehicle.
Three years later, Sarah gifted her husband a home worth Sh37 million at Ol Pejeta, Nanyuki.
“Sarah, I will continue supporting you in anything you do and will always make you happy. I will make sure you get a surprise of the century,” an overjoyed Simon said at the time.
With such lavish (some would say exaggerated) romance, news of the couple's apparent separation caught fans by surprise.
"I can't believe this! I saw them shooting a video while dancing happily together just the other day," wrote Belline Campbell on Facebook. "When you start comparing yourself with people on social media, you will just get stressed and die of pressure … everyone is faking it."
“Why now, why? Simon Kabu is a gentleman, some of us admired how he conducts himself. May God restore your marriage, my friend Kabu,” Leonard Koech wrote on social media.
Some admirers dismissed Sarah's posts as a publicity stunt for the couple's business and that the two would get back together in time for the Easter holiday.
Critics felt vindicated by their opinion that couples should not share their private affairs with the public. There's a line of thought that excessive sharing on social media attracts malicious actors, who deliberately sabotage marriages to bring down happy couples.
"May we learn to pray more and talk to God more than to people and social media," wrote Wanja Mungai on Facebook.
MARRIAGE AND SOCIAL MEDIA
The Kabus clearly revel in the public’s attention. They have invested lots of time and resources in building a social media following.
Being in the limelight is good for business, otherwise, they wouldn't publish every aspect of their lives for all to see. Now that there's tumult in the marriage, it is not surprising that Sarah took to social media to vent out her anger with Simon.
Social media has positive and negative effects on relationships. The positive side of social media is that it helps couples stay connected, especially if they spend lots of time apart.
The flip side is that social media stops couples from engaging in the normal types of interaction that build relationships. Many couples argue about one or both of them paying too much attention to social media.
“Social media use can become compulsive, making it difficult to manage the amount of time spent on it,” says Darren Adamson, professor at Northcentral University.
Simon Kabu alluded to it in a 2018 interview with Pulse Live.
“Maybe something is trending and she [Sarah] wants to check it out, but I tell her, now it’s our time or our kids' time,” Simon said.
People share only the happy, exciting parts of their lives on social media. According to Darren, this can lead to destructive comparisons when couples start to believe they are not having as much fun as their peers.
Third, continuously interacting with other people on social media can lead to what Darren calls “extra-couple relationships”. This means the husband or wife may fall in love with someone else on social media, and this may develop into an extramarital affair.
An interesting bit of research published in Psychology Today magazine proves that people who talk about their partners on social media report a higher sense of satisfaction in their romantic relationships. But there's another angle to it. People post about their relationships to protect themselves and their partners from other people.
Gwendolyn Seidman, a professor of psychology, writes that there are two ways that displaying your relationship on social media can protect it. By having a profile photo as a couple and posting about your relationship, you are signalling to others that you're taken.
Social media also gives your partner that same opportunity. By displaying your relationship online, you're also signalling to potential romantic rivals that your partner is taken.
Indeed, both Simon and Sarah have numerously said they get lots of romance proposals from admirers. Could it be that they share the details of their marriage as a conscious or subconscious attempt to ward off rivals from each other? That’s what the research says.
Sarah and Simon's marriage follows a recent streak of bad luck affecting the relationships of prominent personalities. Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua announced a separation from his then-wife Lillian Ng'ang'a last August. Six months later, Lillian got married to singer Juliani. The new couple is reportedly expecting a baby.
Meanwhile, Mugithi singer Samidoh once again hit the news for his continued love affair with wannabe politician Karen Nyamu despite being a married man. Karen now says she is pregnant with Samidoh for the second time!
The WaJesus family, another much-admired celebrity couple, went through a tumultuous time in 2021. It was revealed that Kabi, the husband, had a love affair with his cousin several years before and that they had a child together (the WaJesus and the Kabus are friends).
Size 8 and DJ Mo, another celebrity couple, have their share of bad press due to the ups and downs of marriage.
If the tiff between Sarah and Simon Kabu turns out to be a publicity stunt, they should rightly be criticised for taking attention-seeking too far. Last December — just four months ago — Sarah vowed that only death would separate her from Simon. "For better, for worse, it is only death that will do us part," she posted on social media.
Let's hope the Kabus work through their marital difficulties so they once again live up to their calling as a couple to be emulated.