Thursday March 20 2014

Amama: Faithfulness is the best reward I could give her

Amama Mbabazi and his wife Jacqueline enjoy a meal at their home in Kololo.

Amama Mbabazi and his wife Jacqueline enjoy a meal at their home in Kololo. 

By Sarah Tumwebaze

How did you meet?
Amama: When we met, she was still in secondary school. But I knew her family. Her brother was my friend and it is one of her relatives who introduced us.

Was it love at first sight?
Amama: I do not know what love at first sight is. If it’s determined by beauty, then I would be in love with very many women because there are very many beautiful women. But my wife is a lovely woman. Though what I know is that she was in love with me for years before I approached her.
Jacqueline: It’s not true that I had been in love with him for years. I also do not know if it was love at first sight in his case because I was not with him when he was falling in love with me. But I fell in love with him immediately. I, however, did not say yes immediately because back then there were a lot of inductions, so girls would not just get excited.

How long was your courtship?
Amama: She knew me more than I knew her because I was an active actor in school. But I think it was more than a year.

How did you propose to her?
Amama: Some of these things I do not say because I am planning to write a book this year.

When did you get married?
Amama: Exactly 40 years ago. We celebrated 40 years on January 4, 2014.

Did you do anything special?
Amama: No we did not because we had a function for Mama Mbiire’s birthday.

What sort of wedding did you have?
Jacqueline: We had a civil wedding because we could not afford a church wedding. To us, a church wedding was expensive; you had to invite people, buy clothes and other things. So, being students, we could not afford it. A civil wedding was only 10 minutes and very simple, so it did not bother us at all. We swore with a Bible and our marriage is recognised by the State.

How many children do you have?
Amama: We have six children, we adopted one child but there are others whom I have adopted, although they do not carry my name. They know their parents. I took them up when they were still young and they call me daddy. So in total, I have 11 children.

Why do you always introduce your wife at functions?
Amama: My wife is my wife, so I should go with her everywhere. When we were getting married, they told us that we are one. Secondly, I am a liberated man so I give my wife and daughters their due place.

What has kept the two of you together?
Jacqueline: Friendship. We are good friends.

Have you ever argued?
Jacqueline: Of course we argue a few times, somebody gets annoyed, we make up and then life goes on. Our arguments are not terrible.
Who gives up first in case of an argument?
Jacqueline: He does.
Amama: She always wins because in an argument, someone has to win and in our case, she is always the winner. For instance, the paint on our house, we argued about it but she insisted, so we went with her colours.
Jacqueline: He lets me win because he is a gentleman.

Who is the closest person you go to incase of an argument?
Jacqueline: We have never had such a situation where we fail to settle our differences.
Amama: We have never had such a thing. Arguments are talking about something and you do not have the same opinion but since someone has to give up, I always give up.

What are some of the small things you do that the other person does not like?
Jacqueline: I blow my nose nicely with a handkerchief but he finds this annoying. The thing that annoyed me about him first was that he could not even boil water. I think it is because of the Kikiga culture.

Why do you think there are so many marriage breakups nowadays?
Jacqueline: Young people getting married nowadays are very materialistic. I also think the women take the equality issue too far because equality does not mean a man goes to the kitchen to cook. They are also intolerant and impatient yet marriage requires tonnes of this and love. They also do not know that love is not constant - it requires that you be innovative throughout. That is what I have done throughout these 40 years.

What is a man’s/woman’s role in marriage?
Amama: The two of you are supposed to share responsibilities. For instance, she cooks food and I help her out, since now I can boil water. But when it comes to carrying heavy things, I do it.

What is your take on cohabiting?
Jacqueline: I do not encourage it at all. I am a Christian and I believe that if people are to have any kind of union, it should be legal. It should not be a loose union. We all know that loose relationships do not produce good results.

Any advice to young couples?
Jacqueline: They need to take relationships seriously because marriage requires a lot of commitment. They should not look forward to a glamorous wedding day. The focus should be on the life they will have together as a couple. They also need to know that marriage is good and the older it gets, the better it becomes.
Besides tolerance, patience and love, what else is important in marriage?
Jacqueline: You should be friends because there are things you will not do to disappoint your friend.

What things have you done that have inspired your children’s relationships?
Jacqueline: They are hardworking because we work very hard and they respect the institution of marriage. There is one who has been married for 10 years and they have not faced any problems at all.

What comes to your mind when you see negative stories about your husband in the media?
Jacqueline: I know there are bad people out there, so I ignore them.
Amama, do those stories bother you?
Amama: First of all, I pity them and I even pity the readers because our papers are a bit of everything, both rumours and facts. So you cannot tell whether they are writing the truth or gossip. But my family knows me very well so when they write stories that I am corrupt, Temangalo and all that nonsense, they just dismiss them. Anybody who knows me will dismiss that because I am the last person in the world who can be corrupt.

What is the most memorable moment in your marriage?
Amama: We married when we were still at the university. My greatest desire then was to have a child. So when we got our first child and many more, it was really memorable, although I never got the chance to enter the labour ward because they have always chased me away.

Any challenges you have faced in your marriage?
Amama: Yes, there are always challenges. When we started the second war in 1981, I had some responsibilities in town but I went to Kabamba first. When I returned, the Obote regime discovered that I had been in Kabamba, so they attacked my home in Bugolobi. My wife and children were captured. For some time, I had no idea whether they were alive. The children were held for four days and were rescued by the International Committee of the Red Cross. My wife was held a little longer and that was very challenging because I did not see her for months. I was very worried and hoped that I could get them away from danger and take them to a safe place. After eight months, I eventually got my wife back but it was quite a trying moment. But there are many other challenges.

What is the most romantic thing you have ever done for your wife?
Amama: We are very close and the reason we are close is because we have lived under very difficult conditions. We have faced many challenges together and somehow we have managed to remain close. Throughout the time I was in the struggle, she looked after the children and performed many tasks. So, the best reward I have given her is to remain faithful to her and try to be a good husband. While I am not sure if I have succeeded, I have tried my best.