When Felix Kiprono expressed “interest” in Barack Obama’s daughter Malia, many argued he was either not serious or he was simply a gold-digger, but the Kenyan lawyer quickly dismissed those claims.
“People might say I am after the family’s money, which is not the case. My love is real,” he said in 2015 while hoping to fulfill his ‘dream’ of marrying Malia who was only 16.
And perhaps to show his seriousness, Kiprono offered then-President Obama 50 cows, 70 sheep and 30 goats to win his daughter’s hand. In fact, from 2008 that he became aware of Malia during her father’s presidential campaign, Kiprono never considered being with anyone else apart from her.
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“I got interested in her in 2008,” he told The Nairobian in 2015. “As a matter of fact, I haven’t dated anyone since and promise to be faithful to her. I have shared this with my family and they are willing to help me raise the bride price.”
Kiprono started working on a letter to make his intentions known and planned to give that letter to the local U.S. Embassy. Learning that Obama would be visiting Kenya (his late father’s home country), Kiprono hoped to put the offer of marriage to him during the visit and even drafted a letter asking the president to bring Malia with him.
Kiprono said instead of magnificent hotels, he will propose on a popular hill in Bureti, Kenya, where leaders and warriors are usually crowned. At the wedding, he will also ignore the cliché of popping champagne and rather “surprise” Malia with mursik, the traditional sour milk of the Kalenjin people of Kenya.
“As an indication that she is my queen, I will tie sinendet, which is a sacred plant, around her head,” he said.
But the Kenyan lawyer had many hurdles to cross, including the fact that Malia was only 16, and was not accustomed to the kind of life he was offering.
Even so, Kiprono maintained that “Ours will be a simple life. I will teach Malia how to milk a cow, cook ugali (a starchy dish) and prepare mursik (a sour milk) like any other Kalenjin woman.”
Note that this was not the first time a Kenyan citizen was offering to marry a presidential child. In 2009 — almost a decade before Kiprono’s offer — a Kenyan shop owner Godwin Kipkemoi Chepkurgor offered Hillary Clinton 40 goats and 20 cows in return for her daughter Chelsea’s hand in marriage.
Chepkurgor was already married but got attracted to Chelsea, describing her as a “beautiful, disciplined and well-natured woman.” He told CNN at the time: “Of course I have never met her, but I like her family and how they stick together. I’ve waited for a long time. I’m still waiting to meet her and express my love.”