When Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, the former Lusaka based Catholic priest, realized that he could no longer bear the weight of strict celibacy vows, the unification church came in to lend a hand to him. It secured for him a wife.
The Moons with Kenyan politicians among them Joseph Munyao, Raila Odinga and Chris Okemo.
Experienced on matters of matchmaking, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the co-founder of the movement that has been organizing inter-racial and inter-religious marriages, securing a wife for the Catholic bishop was no big hassle.
The South Korean-born evangelist got Maria Sung, a 43-year-old Korean woman, earmarked her for the nuptials with the Bishop and went on to have them tie the knot. This stunned the world. But Sung and Milingo were off to marital bliss before the Vatican came down hard on the Bishop and had him renounce the marriage.
Even after heavy criticisms from all corners of the globe, the Moons are not about to give up on the mass-weddings. They have claimed to be on a heavenly mission to bring the world to peace through marriages and the ideal family.
In a meeting that brought Dr Hak Ja Han Moon, a co-founder of the Unification Church into the country a fortnight ago, the power that the global movement founded in 1954 yields was evident. It was neither political, nor inclined to any particular faith. It was also not one of the music concerts that easily draw audiences in numbers. But amazingly, the auditorium was packed to the brim, and with some overflow.
Dr Han, also a co-founder of the Family Federation For World Peace was in town.
Locally, the lady married to the contentious evangelist, Rev Moon is mostly remembered for mass weddings through which thousands of Kenyans have been hooked up to mates from around the world, even when it means exchanging vows via the satellite.
During the evening function held at the Crystal ballroom in the Grand Regency hotel, the Korean mother of thirteen appeared briefly to deliver the keynote speech. Titled, God’s Model Ideal Family And Nation, And The Peace Kingdom, the message underscored the place of the family in peace restoration.
After some speeches by other guests, it was time for the woman who is the second wife to Dr Moon to speak. Pregnant with expectations, the audience went into a dead silence. To many, it was time to meet a woman they had only seen on television or just read in books or magazines.
From one side of the packed auditorium, the Korean lady stepped onto the podium dressed in a stylish blue suit. Enjoying a red carpet treatment, the lady walked through men who were on standby to show her the way.
Almost lost in the crowd were cabinet Ministers Hon Noah Wekesa and Hon Joseph Munyao. Alicen Chelaite the assistant Minister for Sports, Gender and Culture, Hon Chris Okemo and Raila Odinga were also seated to follow the suspense-filled proceeding.
“The family sets the pattern of living together in harmony,” said Dr Moon amid uproarious cheers from an audience composed of inter-religious; inter-racial faces. Adding that it is in an ideal family that the kingdom of heaven on earth takes root, she was clear on why the world is no longer at peace with itself. “In this era, families the world over are breaking down,” she added as part of her explanation on the root cause of war in various parts of the world.
In their struggle to get people to heaven here on Earth, the Moons under the umbrella of the federation have been conducting mass weddings that have courted more controversy than praise.
Flashback: It is just another August morning of 1995 and the venue of the extra-ordinary event is at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi.
For the first time in many years of Moonie mass weddings, the event has attracted many Kenyans who are here to join other 360,000 couples from across the world in the spectacular event broadcast live by the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC).
Participating in the blissful affair is Doreen Norah Ogonga, 25, and Ruth Nasimiyu who is dressed in flowery tie and dye dresses. Excited as most of the others, the brides cradle pictures of their chosen ones, who they only hope to meet later.
Doreen, a sales representative is matched to an Angolan Chrisotovoa Neto and hopes to meet the man in three years. But why trust Rev Sun on such matters? many wondered. “He (Sun) sees seven generations back and seven ahead. He has the power to choose the best partner for his followers,” she says.
Before joining others for the ceremony, prospective spouses undergo a vetting process. First, a HIV test to confirm their status is conducted. Sickle cell anaemia and blood test are also a must.
After meeting health requirements, candidates are required to send their particulars through their country unification movement office.
After securing a mate, vows are exchanged in mass wedding conducted through satellite, to coincide with others in other centres throughout the globe.
Where partners are not in a position to meet on that day due to challenge of distance, they hold photographs of their future lovers and exchange marriage vows.
But in as much as they are dressed for the day and even take vows, the unification Church insists that this is only a religious ceremony and not actual weddings. “The ones that intend to be husband and wife will have to obtain marriages from whatever jurisdiction they reside in,” clarifies the organization.
Chastity before marriage and fidelity in marriage are virtues that must be adhered to by all the members of this organisation.
But Rev Moon may not have adhered to these principles before in his earlier life. Before he got married to the current wife who is 24 years his junior, Moon is known to have had sired some children with other women. Moon is also reported to have had sexual intercourse with women in unusual rituals known as blood separation that led to his arrest and a two-year jail term in North Korea.