Mercy Cherono engagement stirs social media excitement
Kenyan athletics poster girl and 2013 world 5000m silver medalist and two-time junior 3000m champion, Mercy Cherono Koech will get engaged to her fiancee – whose identity she is yet to disclose – in a traditional ceremony at her rural home in Kipajit Village in Bomet County on December 17.
The news of her koito, as is the ceremony’s name in her Kalenjin community, swept fast across social media, exciting her passionate fans and fellow sports personalities as her engagement invitation card surfaced online.
Amid the numerous congratulatory messages, her parents John Koech and Emily Koech told Citizen Digital they feel proud and are already anxious to meet and welcome their future son-in-law to the family.
“Congratulations queen Mercy. May our good Lord be with you and your partner as you prepare for your D-Day,” four-time Boston Marathon winner Catherine Ndereba said, saying she was happy for Cherono, a first born in a family of seven.
The 2015 Paris and Frankfurt Marathon Champion, Mark Korir Mutai wrote a simple “Pongezi Mercy (Conratulations Mercy)” while suspended Athletics Kenya Eastern Branch Chairman, Joseph Kinyua posted
“Congrats Mercy. May your new chapter be successful as your athletics career! We are proud of you, those of us that have inspired you during many athletics championships. ”
Alex Sang, the husband to London Olympics 3000m steeplechase bronze medalist Milcah Chemos, said: “Bye bye singles club Mercy.”
According to the Kalenjin norms, koito is a treasured practice where the groom-to-be and his family are introduced to the bride’s family.
Elsewhere on Facebook and Twitter, the news was greeted with a sense of loss with her male admirers ‘mourning’ the fact is off the market.
Since announcing herself to the world when she won her first junior world title in Bydgoszcz, Poland in 2008, Cherono’s beauty and talent has captivated a nation with her face and dashing smile.
Cherono has been cast in radio and television adverts- the most famous her portrayal in the Chamgei FM television ad that still runs today- as well as billboards and popular television shows.
Her popularity peaked when she bounced back to form by taking the silver medal at the Moscow IAAF World Championships.
The groom-to-be could choose to present his dowry during the introduction and should the package meet the demands of the bride’s family, he gets the go-ahead to take her home with him as his wife.
Community elders would then later on convene a meeting and sign an agreement that they witnessed a woman of their clan get married off before a colourful public ceremony to mark the union.
In most Kalenjin communities, the groom-to-be will be locked out of dowry negotiations and basically most proceedings during koito which is usually the most crucial phase. It is accepted that the couple lives together as husband and wife after the event as they plan for a church wedding.
Cherono started running while at Kipajit Primary School and later moved to Chelimo Primary School near Kericho and eventually Ngariet Secondary School in Sotik, going on to win the Most Promising Sportswoman of the Year award at the 2009 Kenyan Sports Personality of the Year awards and retaining her crown the following year.
Cherono made her debut for Kenya at the 2007 World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa where she finished 23rd and holds the 2007 World Youth and 2008 World Junior 3,000m titles.
-Report by Charity Wanja and Carol Kones.
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