Why did you choose to marry at 25?
To me, age is not an issue. What is important is maturity. At 25, I was mature enough and I admired the institution of marriage because it trains one to be responsible. You can’t lead a reckless life because your actions cease to affect only you but even your spouse and offsprings. I was anxious to earn the respect that comes with marriage life. Besides, my business was doing well so I had no excuse for staying single.
So, how did you meet Nalule?
Since I did not have a prospective suitor, I suggested to my close relatives to find me anyone with the qualities I wanted in a wife. I emphasised that I wanted someone who was religious, well-mannered and a good family background. As they looked around, I also did my own search.
Hold on a second! You mean in this era where girls are all over the place, you failed to find your own partner?
First of all, I am the kind of guy who never indulged in intimate relationships. I found it time-wasting because they often ended with bitter break-ups. Yes, I had female friends but I had never dated. With this background, I was not sure I would make the right choice.
Okay. Back to how your search ended at Nalule’s doorstep.
One of my aunts informed me that she had a friend whose daughter had the qualities I was looking for. She suggested we meet the lady, and I was open to the idea. Before we met the girl, my aunt first showed me a photo of her.
Did you like what you saw?
One thing you must know is that when people are choosing photos to show off, they look for the best. And in this world of Photoshop, photos can be edited [Laughs]. But anyhow, I liked what I saw, especially the way she was dressed. It was decent. Another person would have shared a photo revealing a lot of flesh.
So when did you meet?
A week after receiving the photo. At my aunt’s home.
Were you impressed?
You know, a photo is a photocopy. And there is no way a photocopy can be better than the original. Even before we talked, I was impressed by the way she carried herself when she came to greet us. She was so calm. I hate jumpy women. Thereafter, we were given an hour, away from the rest of the people in attendance, to chat and get to know each other. At the end of the meeting, I was convinced that Nalule may be (note the word may be) my future wife.
Did you only relied on your aunt for information about Nalule?
Of course not. I had to ask other people who resided in the same village with her. I was, however, picky with the people I asked because I knew some would not be objective. I also had young brothers who knew her. It is not good to only rely on information from adults because when she meets them, naturally, she has to humble herself and be decent. It’s good to ask her agemates who relate with her casually.
Did anyone stand in your way?
I knew this was likely to happen, so I did not tell my parents about her. You see, parents will always look at you as their young son or daughter. I told an uncle whom they respected, and I was glad he supported my decision. When he told my parents, as expected, they brought up my age. He was able to convince them, though, and they blessed me. They asked if I had already made up my mind.
For how long did the two of you date?
We dated for two months. After our meeting, I gave her my number and we started communicating on phone. But you know that is not enough, so two days later we started meeting and hanging out together. Sometimes she would come to my shop and I used that opportunity to test her with tricky questions to find out her true character.
What did you admire most about Nalule?
She is God-fearing. That is the most important thing. If one has that quality then the rest easily falls in place. I also liked the way she dressed. She was always decent. One thing about dating is that one may take aspects like prayer and dress lightly, but Nalule took her prayer time seriously.
What’s good about someone else finding you a partner?
You get enough information about the person before you settle down with them. And then you rarely compromise your qualities because you are focused on whether the person is worth living with for the rest of your life. The challenge with searching for yourself is that you are driven by lust. For example, look at people who have married women not because they love them but because they “accidentally” got them pregnant. Anyway, both options are good if well-handled.
There is one disadvantage. Unfortunately it is felt more by the ladies. There are families where the girl has no say. As long as the families like the groom-to-be, the girl’s opinion does not matter.
Would you let your children follow in your footsteps?
Why not? I would not force them but I would recommend it as an option. It’s good. No wonder it was the way our fore fathers did it and their marriages lasted.
Was marriage on your mind?
Yes. But it was not something that would make me lose sleep. My attitude was that if I got the right person, I would settle down with them.
How did Luswata turn out to be the right one?
I do not recall the day, but once my mum asked me, out of the blue, whether I would get married if a man willing to marry me surfaced, I said yes. She offered to find me that man but I objected. Her reason was that I would only get irresponsible men and I also argued that her plan was to make me a third or fourth wife to some rich, grey-haired man. I did not believe in the idea.
So you were forced into marriage?
No, I was not. My mum politely proposed that I meet the man she was talking about and then the choice was wholly up to me. I had no doubt that I was not going to like this man. I met him, but mostly for the sake of pleasing my mum.
So when did you meet Luswata?
A week later after my mum’s talk.
Were your fears of a grey-haired man confirmed?
[Laughs] No. Instead, I met a young and handsome man. I really liked what I saw, especially his physical appearance. At his aunt’s place, we were given some time to ourselves and I asked him about his work, family and future plans. At the end of our little conversation, marriage was all over my mind. On our way back home, my mother asked that I should be honest with her about my opinion. She told me not to take a decision out of fear. I told her that I liked him.
How long did you date?
We dated for two months. I know some may say it is a short time but it was enough. You just have to ask leading questions and keenly observe the person’s character. Also, the beauty of this arrangement is that you have prior information about your partner from objective parties. I am talking about parents and siblings. They are less likely to give you misleading opinions because they often wish you well.
Didn’t you fear him?
No. I didn’t. We are in the same age bracket perhaps that is why. I think fear comes when there is a big age difference, because then you have very little in common.
Did your friends know about this arrangement?
Only the close ones. When I told them, they pitied me and joked that my mum must have found me a very old man who would die in a few years and leave me as a single mother. I laughed along. But when I showed them Luswata’s photo, they called me lucky.
Would you recommend this to your friends?
Yes, but I think the bottom line is that someone gets someone they love and not a person they are supposed to love. So whether you are searching for yourself or someone else is searching for you, you need to settle down with someone you love.
What do you like about Luswata?
He is a very caring man. He will help with anything in the house. I’m not suggesting that we reverse roles, but if I request him to help me with, say slicing onions, he will not remind me that he is the man in the house.
Quick test : How much do the Luswatas know about each other?
What is Luswata’s favourite dish?
Nalule: Chips and eggs.
Luswata: No. It’s fried Irish. I eat chips because they are easy to prepare.
What does he do to relax?
Nalule: Movies and attending wedding functions.
Luswata: True, but I also love playing soccer.
When is his birthday?
Nalule: I’ve forgotten (ha ha!).
Luswata: June 15, 1988.
How many children does he want?
What is his position in the family?
Nalule: First born.
Who is his best friend?
Nalule: I can’t guess.
Luswata: She (Nalule) is my best friend.
What is the last school he attended?
Nalule: Bilal Islamic Institute.
What does Nalule do to relax?
Luswata: Listening to music and watching movies.
Nalule: He is right.
What is her favourite dish?
Luswata: Rice, meat and spaghetti.
What is Nalule’s favourite colour?
Nalule: Purple and pink.
What is her shoe size?
When is her birthday?
Luswata: January 16, 1993.
Who is her best friend?
Luswata: They are many I can’t guess.
Nalule: Myra Nakkagwe.
How many children does she want?
By Abdulaziizi Tumusiime