Thursday May 22 2014

Office romance

NTV news reporter, Solomon Serwanjja with his fiancee and their

NTV news reporter, Solomon Serwanjja with his fiancee and their two children. The couple met while still working at UBC, and they had to find other jobs to avoid discomfort and distraction at work. PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI 

By Esther Oluka

At which workplace did you meet Vivian?
Solomon: I met her at Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC). This was around 2009 where I had joined as a reporter.

Did you join UBC around the same time with Solomon?
Vivian: I joined the station much earlier than him, around 2007 as an intern but eight months later, I was elevated to a staff reporter.

When did the two of you officially kick off the friendship?
Solomon: When we were sent to cover a certain press conference in Entebbe. By that time, I was a junior reporter while Vivian was a senior reporter. We managed to get along quite well while covering the event, unlike before where I barely talked to her because she always kept to herself. Let’s just say that she was a lady of very few words who was very mindful of her own space.

Which level did your friendship move to next after the press conference?
Vivian: Well, our friendship started growing gradually though at times his actions towards me showed that he was interested in something more. On the other hand, I was not keen on starting any kind of romantic relationship because I saw him as a little boy.

Was that the only reason you were not keen on starting a relationship at work?
Vivian: The other reason was that I was not interested in him much because of our work positions. Solomon was a junior reporter and I was senior, therefore, he was always accustomed to asking me work-related questions on how to do certain things, the ones he was not yet familiar with. That made it a reason for him to constantly be around me, which I hated a lot. I enjoyed having my own space and working quietly.

Solomon, did you develop a different perception of Vivian after the two of you covered the press conference?
Yes, whenever she entered the newsroom every morning, I would see this striking beauty, and I would go like; “Jesus Christ, this girl is so hot!” Since I had, however, heard from different people that she was someone hard to talk to, and that one only had to be man enough to approach her, I started encroaching on her space cautiously. However, when she realised that I was getting so familiar with her, she started calling me “Solomon, my little brother.” As much as I hated the way she perceived me, I continued talking to her.

Besides referring to you as her little brother, are there any other annoying things Vivian did to push you away?
Yes, quite many. She would tell me she was a hard person and I could not manage her. Another time, when I went to visit her very early in the morning with a rolex, and pieces of fried cassava while it was raining, she deliberately refused to let me into her apartment. She told me to go away and leave her alone.

I remember walking away very hurt and I admit that I did even cry at some point. Then, another time, she lied to me that she was infected with HIV. But regardless of what she was doing to me, I continued pursuing her because I was in love with her.

And when did you, Vivian, finally give in to Solomon’s advances?
When he was sent to Cairo, Egypt for a four-month training. I realised I missed him a lot despite the fact that we communicated often on phone and Facebook. When he eventually came back, I could not hide my happiness. This was when I was finally able to tell him that I loved him very much, amid tears. Yes, my heart had finally softened towards him. This was around October 2010.

What are some of the things Solomon did at work to show you affection?
He always carried me juice, ice cream and cake, despite the fact that he was hardly making any money by then.

How did your bosses react after finding out the two of you were dating?
Vivian: They did nothing. In fact they started making fun of us. For instance, if Solomon was live on air reporting and I was in the newsroom, they would look over at my direction and either smile or shout: “Vivian look, baby is on television.”

What are some of the things you hated seeing the other do with some of your colleagues at work?
Vivian: Solomon was this friendly person who after seeing a girl, would run over and hug her, very tightly. The other thing I hated was seeing him cracking jokes and laughing with other female colleagues. Such things would often make me jealous.
Solomon: I had no problem with Vivian because her interactions with other people, especially male colleagues, were very minimal. As I said before, she liked keeping to herself and was a lady of very few words.

Vivian, did you share your concerns with Solomon about the way he was interacting with other female colleagues?
Yes, I did tell him how I felt at some point and I am glad that he understood my feelings. So, he started being cautious. Like whenever one of my female colleagues would run over to hug him, he would instead offer his hand. Also, when they started sensing that there was something between Solomon and I, they started giving him his space.

Was your performance at work ever affected by the relationship?
Solomon: Whenever we disagreed earlier at home, we would try to avoid each other as much as possible at work. At times I would feel so bad because other colleagues would get to know after reading our body language. So such times were really difficult for us to give our best at work. This is why we eventually decided to apply for jobs in different organisations.

Vivian: There were vacancies at NTV for news reporters, so I applied not knowing that Solomon had also applied for the same job. We only got to know later. Fortunately, he was given the job in 2012 and I was not. So, I remained at UBC. I resigned later after I was transferred to another department, which I was not comfortable working for. I eventually got a job at Aya Group (A) Limited, Proprietors of the Hilton Kampala Hotel as a public relations manager.

Since it seems to have turned out a happy office relationship, are you thinking of legalising things any time soon?
Solomon: Yes, we were actually supposed to wed last year in October but Vivian conceived and gave birth to our second child Imani Tyrone Heavens Serwanja. We are yet to fix another date for the wedding, but hopefully mid next year.