How did you meet?
Sam: I attended St Mary’s College Kisubi and she went to Gayaza High School. We had a science Fair organised at Uganda Polytechnic Kyambogo. We exhibited different science projects and it is during the three-day Fair that I saw her. She stood out. I was attracted to her and I tried all I could to make sure that she noticed me. When I returned to school, I wrote her a letter indicating my interest in becoming her friend.
Christine: I remember him visiting the Gayaza High School stall. I did not know that he was particularly interested in me. When he wrote to me, I declined his request because I really was not ready.
How did you react to her rejection?
Sam: Strangely enough, I celebrated because I felt I had finally found someone who does not take any Tom, Dick and Harry. So, I decided that I was not anybody. I went back and rebranded and changed approach and what I wrote the second time round was more presentable.
What is your recollection of the dating phase and what drew you two close?
Sam: I think the dating phase was not rocket science. It was not difficult at all. She is very beautiful and I love her. A friend said to us that he wondered what we kept talking about with each other yet we did not drink. This surprises me. Why do you need to drink in order to talk to your girlfriend? And how can anyone lack the words to say to a girlfriend?
Christine: We enjoyed each other’s company. Surprisingly, we did not have enough time to say the things we wanted to say to each other.
Where would you meet to talk?
Sam: We would sit in the compound, in my room, in her room – the university is so wide. There was no shortage of space to sit and talk.
Christine: We would watch a film or go to a restaurant or go dancing. We did not have much responsibility at the time.
How long did you date before you got married?
Sam: We dated for five years. I was a third-year medical student when we got married in 1972. In those times, it would have been difficult for her to say yes because I was a student and did not have a job. I had lost my father a year earlier and I had inherited 16 siblings and many mothers to look after. But all these issues were overridden by the love we have for each other.
Christine: I had graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree and since I was leaving university, we thought we needed to get married.
What preparations did you make?
Sam: (Laughs). I started the marriage preparations with only Shs50. We did not have wedding meetings like you people do nowadays. I met every one who contributed to my wedding in person. I did not beg them; I would tell them how preparations were going and how much I had so far. I would leave it to them to work out what they wanted to contribute. In the end, we had two wedding receptions, one in Makerere University main hall and another one in Iganga District.
We did not hire a Mercedes Benz. I talked to my teacher at Medical School to chauffer us. The suit I put on was given to me by an uncle. My best man, Dr John Mwesigwa, could not afford a matching suit so we had unmatched suits. Though I did not have money, for us, the prize was each other.
Christine: It was really trendy. I am a fashion designer, so I made the dresses for the bridal entourage. The cakes were made by our friends, Mr and Mrs Nsimbi.
What lessons have you drawn from being married for almost half a century?
Sam: We are still learning. I have learnt that as a man, I will not always have my way. It is not right that you get married and only your wishes are fulfilled because there is another person to take into account. I hear young people say, ‘I said this as a man.’ How about you say it as a friend? You are not getting married to say out commandments.
Christine: Marriage is a journey. Keep learning each other. Remember you did not grow up in the same environment and you went to different schools. So, there is a lot to learn.
What else is there on the journey of marriage?
Sam: I hold a seminar called Marrying Across Differences. I am a Musoga and come from a polygamous home. She is a Muganda from a born-again Christian, monogamous home. So, there is a lot of adaptation and understanding to do. You have to change your script and expectations as time goes on.
Christine: When we got married, we had each other as the net capital. We valued what we had. We have worked to achieve what we have now. We do not waste, but nowadays, young people spend to impress. We are frugal. We buy in bulk. We pray in the mornings and evenings to get wisdom from God. We are both born-again Christians, though we were not at the time we got married.
What challenges did you face and how did you deal with them?
Sam: Our challenge was poverty but we have managed the shortage of money. We have a lot of responsibilities. We look after many people but we value each other more than money. I see young people pointing fingers at each other, what they call okulangira. She has never said that to me. We work together on a challenge and deal with it. Working together as a team is very important.
Christine: The challenge we faced was learning about each other. We had to do so patiently. We do not quarrel. We discuss issues and when we do so, things work out.
What advice would you give to newly married people?
Christine: The beginning is very rosy because you are close to one another. However, your backgrounds are different and you need to be patient with one another. If you are aware of it as a young couple, you will pull through. The journey is long and there are four stages; start rosy, settle, have questions you cannot verbalise since you are still learning about each other, and then, you can open up.
What three tips can you share on making marriage work?
Pray together as a family. Be patient with each other, and be yourself.