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CITY GIRL: Haters, let Mengi’s young wife mourn in peace

Reginald Mengi is dead. Mengi was one of Africa’s many billionaires and among the richest men in Tanzania.

The 75-year-old’s story is a classic rags-to-riches, grass-to-grace story. Young boy born in the foothills of Kilimanjaro, goes on to become a self-made billionaire business mogul.

At the time of his death, Mengi was an internationally respected businessman owing to his success in various sectors, including mining, manufacturing and media.

His firm, IPP Group of Companies, is one of the most successful in the region, employing over 3,000 people. IPP owns various TV stations and newspapers, among others. Mengi, for lack of a better comparison, was the Rupert Murdoch of East Africa; an astute businessman, powerful, influential, dividing opinion, admired and criticised in equal measure.

Forbes magazine, in 2014, estimated his wealth at $560 million (Sh56.5 billion).

YOUNG WIFE

Hours after his death, the focus was no longer on Mengi but on his much younger wife, Jacqueline Ntuyabaliwe. Jacqueline is a sight to behold. I mean she is beauty and grace personified. Tall, slender, caramel-skinned with a killer smile and lovely eyes, she is the perfect billionaire’s bride. At 41 she is 34 years younger than her 75-year-old husband.

Mengi’s body was barely cold before Jacqueline was searing in the flames of our withering judgement. The swampy parts of the internet were rife with speculation, as many declared her the richest woman in East Africa while others commended her “patience” for having waited out what would become the greatest payout ever.

Now I am not here to discuss cross-generational marriages. In fact, I am of the conviction that anyone can find love anywhere, with anyone, regardless of their age or social status.

My problem is those who are quick to judge Jacqueline, and who are making it look like she was a gold-digger who could not wait for her billionaire husband to drop dead so that she could make a good “harvest”.

SUCCESSFUL MUSICIAN

I thought I should bring to your attention the fact that Jacqueline was an immensely successful woman before she met and married Mengi. She was a one-time Miss Tanzania and a fairly successful bongo flava musician going by the stage name K-Lynn. Among her hit songs were “Crazy Over You” and “Nalia Kwa Furaha” before she left the music industry for other businesses.

Jacqueline was not wallowing in poverty before Mengi came to “rescue” her. Above all, she has proved her mettle as a successful businesswoman as she is the chair of Amorette Limited, a furniture design and manufacturing company.

What I am trying to say is that even if Mengi did make Jacqueline’s life easier, it is insensitive and even immoral for us to so harshly judge a woman mourning her husband and the father of her children.

What we should be doing is celebrating the life of a man who was born in poverty and died an accomplished billionaire and employed thousands. The story we should be obsessed with today is the many lives Mengi touched through his foundation and the many young entrepreneurs he mentored. That is the story; not how a young former model is now set to become Africa’s newest billionaire.

NONE OF OUR BIZ

Besides, it is absolutely none of our business who people chose to fall in love with and marry, let alone Jacqueline. Of course I am not blind to the fact that it may have helped that Mengi had a bit of money for Jacqueline to even look in his direction. But so what?

A few weeks ago, the couple celebrated their wedding anniversary. In the cosy picture, Jacqueline is seen leaning on a white-bearded Mengi. She pays tribute to her husband, saying that she could not have wished for a better man who showed her “how it feels to be loved and cared for”.

They looked happy and in love. With grace and dignity, Jacqueline took the heat from the public who could not believe her choice of a husband nearly two score years older than her. But this time the critics went too far.

Let us celebrate the life of Mengi and for God’s sake, leave Jacqueline and her babies to mourn the patriarch in peace!