Thursday January 16 2014

10 years and three children, the Bugingos’ relationship is still going strong

Hannington Bugingo and Esther, his wife. Photo

Hannington Bugingo and Esther, his wife. Photo by Edgar R. Batte 

By Edgar R Batte

His story
How did you meet?
I met Esther through my friend and business partner Abdu Aziz Kayemba. Abdu and I visited Esther together. When I saw her, I liked what I saw. On that same day, we went for jam session at the National Theatre.

How easy was it to win her?
I am a smooth operator. [laughs]

What was your strategy?
I first treated her as a friend, was kind to her and acted like I was not interested, but deep within I was serious.

How serious were you?
I proved myself to her. In fact within three months she was pregnant. I had just graduated.

How did you react when she told you she was pregnant?
I was speechless. No girl had ever told me she was pregnant. Not even the girl I had dated for three years.

What happened to your previous relationship?
My ex and I were living together at campus. One day when I went for a week-long workshop in Fort Portal, I returned and found her gone. Her phone was off so I could not call and ask her what had happened. I was heartbroken and it was during this mix that I met Esther.

Did she ever contact you?
I have never told Esther, but she resurfaced when Esther was pregnant and I told her I had moved on. She asked how I could have moved on after we had been together for that long. She offered to bear me a child but I told her I was serious with Esther.

How would you compare the two women?
My ex was more like me – hyper, while Esther is calm, reserved and a good listener. Everyone needs someone who is their exact opposite to stay together.

Did you have a job when Esther got pregnant?
I was still hustling. I thought of the responsibility. I was scared but I knew, as a man, I had to plan. So I started saving money for the hospital. It was not easy.

What was it like when her waters broke?
It was at about 1am, we were home and she began complaining about the pain. My neighbour had a car, so he drove us to Nsambya hospital. She gave birth at 10am that morning.

Did life change after the baby?
Yes. I started saving more because it was not about me and Esther anymore. I was now a father and husband. She had difficulty getting breast milk so we needed to buy milk more often.

You hadn’t met Esther’s parents yet. Did you feel pressured?
No. We visited Esther’s parents while she was pregnant. Her dad passed on so it was her mum and uncles. Esther told me to go for lunch with two people but when we got there, we found about seven old men in cultural outfits. They started grilling us, asking why we were on our own and how many cows we had brought. We had carried pineapples, pawpaws and two crates of soda.

What went through your mind?
Wow! We almost ran away but Esther’s mum told them we were only invited for lunch. They later dropped the serious talk and allowed us join their table. We drank beer together.

Did they ask when you would officially introduce their girl?
Oh yeah and the pressure started mounting on me. Ansell, our son, was about two years now. Esther kept asking me what to tell her mother when she asked about the wedding. We set the date for the introduction in May and wedded on September 18, 2009.

What were you doing on your wedding eve?
I was at the theatre acting. The wedding committee had paid for everything. My friends supported me so much. After the theatre I wanted to go to Steak Out for Rock Night because we often went there on Thursday, but I decided to go home and sleep.

What was the wedding day like?
Everything was done at the theatre because it was like home. The cars picked us from there.

What has made your marriage work?
We are friends and listen to one another. She is a good listener. Even when I am mad, she just keeps quiet and leaves me to shout. Then when I am calmer she talks to me.

What makes a relationship work?
Patience, love and above all, God. You should be prayerful.

How religious are you?
Very much. My dad is a Reverend Charles Tumwebaze.

Her story

How did you meet Bugingo?
I was working with one of his friends who told me Bujju, as he called him, needed a job. I was working at a marketing company.

What was your first reaction when you saw him?
I did not mind him. He was like any other guy.

Did you know him as a comedian?
Yes and when he came around he attracted attention.

At what point did he approach you?
We had talked but got upclose during rehearsals for a project we were working on. He was seated alone and seemed in deep thought, so I went over and asked if he was fine. We met again in Fort Portal where my team was stuck because we could not speak the native language, Rutooro. He helped us translate. I actually thought he was a Mutooro. In the course of the day, he realised I was tired and offered to sit in for me.

Is that when you started opening up?
Not really. He was like any other guy I was working with until he asked for my number. I gave it to him but thought he would turn out like any other guy. He would call simply to say hello and started visiting my place. When I asked Abdu what Bujju wanted, he simply smiled and started telling me Bujju was a good guy and one I should take seriously. I was not ready for a relationship.

What was it like hanging around Bujju for the first time?
He was a jolly guy and he started introducing me as his girlfriend immediately. I told him I was not his girlfriend so he should stop introducing me as such. He was such a joker.

Why did you judge him like that?
He looked like a young guy who would not commit and at that time I wanted to settle. That was 2004.

At what point did he pull through as a potential candidate?
He kept calling and once invited me for lunch at Sheraton. We talked at length and he told me he was just out of a relationship.

What qualities pulled you to Bujju?
He had style and class. When I visited his home, I was amazed at how organised he was. I saw a developmental and focused man. He was kind and considerate and I found myself starting to trust him.

After how long did you get pregnant?
After three months.

Did the child affect your relationship in any way?
Not really. Actually Ansell did not get the attention he deserved as a first child because when he was four months old, I had to go back to work up country. I took him to my mother.

Didn’t your mother ask when she’d meet Ansell’s father?
No. My mum is a calm woman. She did not pressure him.

Bujju says when you invited him to your home, you lied that it was a simple visit.
[Laughs] I wanted it to be simple. I remember when he turned up they [her uncles] asked who he had brought the sodas for. They asked him if he saw any children there.

What were you doing on the eve of your wedding?
I was so busy. My mother is part of the Mothers’ Union group so she took me for pre-marital briefing. It was fun listening to advice from mothers.

How does it feel being a wife to a celebrity?
It is a big challenge. Everyone wants to see and criticise me. Some people expect me to be some campus girl. In fact sometimes I tell him not to introduce me. I do not like to have my pictures taken because people post them on Facebook and comment. This is the first interview we have done together.

What irritates you about Bujju?
He is impatient and thinks he is always correct.

How do you handle that?
I always let him be and wait until he calms down then we talk.

What did you like about the wedding?
The decor was very beautiful, my gown was creatively designed, the cake was not just big but tasty. Many people enjoyed it. We were happy.

What changed after the wedding?
Bujju became more responsible and focused. He knew there were no more games.

What things do you do to keep the marriage going?
We pray as a family, communicate and sometimes go away for weekends with other married couples to bond and renew our love.

It’s 10 years since you began relating, what lessons have you learnt?
You hear a lot of stuff, but you do not have to take in everything. Bujju is always out and comes back at 2am but I trust him. Trust is important.

What has made your marriage work?
Patience and God. When you have God, you see things differently. People ask how I can let him go to the club when I am at home sleeping.

What advice do you have for women dating or married to celebrities?
They should pray a lot. It is important to be patient and avoid involving many people in your relationship because they can build or break you.

Quick test : How well do you know your partner?
How old is Bujju?
Esther: He is making 32.
Bugingo: I am 32 years old.

His favourite hangout?
Esther: He has many hangouts.
Bugingo: Oba where? I hang everywhere, but I think at the moment it is Guvnor.

His favourite beer?
Esther: Guinness.
Bugingo: Guinness.

His football team?
Esther: Arsenal.
Bugingo: Arsenal.

Favourite movie?
Esther: He talks well of 2 Guns. But he likes many.
Bugingo: John Q.

His favourite local comedian?
Esther: Amooti Omubalanguzi.
Bugingo: Dickson Zizinga.

What’s her bra size?
Bugingo: He he he...oba 15. I think 15.
Esther: 34C.

What does she cook best?
Bugingo: She has a special meal; rice, Irish potatoes, eggs and meat. It is so yummy.
Esther: A special mixture of macaroni, rice, meat and eggs.

What is the colour of her toothbrush?
Bugingo: The last one is red and blue.
Esther: Red

Her favourite colour?
Bugingo: Black.
Esther: Black.

Her mother’s full name?
Bugingo: Nnalongo Proscovia Namirembe Byarugaba.
Esther: Ms Prossy Byarugaba.

What hairstyle does she have now?
Bugingo: She has a piece.
Esther: Rihanna.