I am 25. My wife does not want to talk about her age because of the media. All we can say is she is above 50 but below 75 years
Love doesn’t ask why. On Friday, August 20, Guvnor Ace (Ronald Ssemawele) and his bride, Mona-Lisa Larsson, had more than their fair share of attention when pictures of their civil wedding hit social media. Interracial marriages are commonplace nowadays, but, there are some who still stigmatise the Black half of the couple, imagining they are into the marriage for money. In Ssemawele’s case, society was ‘scandalised’ by the bride’s age, with many saying Guvnor married the love of his life for money. Gillian Nantume caught up with the lovebirds at their rented cottages in Lubowa as they enjoyed a cold beer.
Congratulations on your wedding
Thank you. (He wears his sunglasses and forbids us from taking pictures until he has got the gist of the interview. He is wary that we might ask deeply-intimate questions).
There is talk that you are a musician. What group do you perform with?
Leone Island Music Empire, which I joined in 2011. I attended Kawombe Memorial School with AK47 and I loved his brother’s (Jose Chameleone) music. When I failed to get tuition in my first year at St Lawrence University, I joined the Empire.
When is your next show?
In Uganda we have concerts, not shows. I sing at any of them as long as I am paid. I have not yet launched my album, but there is a concert being planned for Pallaso and Gravity (both local musicians) and I hope to perform there.
However, my own shows will be in Europe, after Christmas.
People are curious about what kind of man you are.
I am a simple man who respects people. I am also hardworking, even if people say bad things about me. I just turn a deaf ear knowing that they will eventually shut up.
Surely, you cannot ignore the media hype about your marriage!
I am not the first to love an older woman. People do it all the time. It is just that I am an artiste and people always want to know what we are doing. Maybe the attraction comes from there.
People who love older women hide it. But I am not ashamed of what I am doing. In fact, I like it. We have been together for one year and eight months so there is nothing the media can say that will separate us.
How old are you, both?
I am 25. My wife does not want to talk about her age because of the media. All we can say is she is above 50 but below 75 years.
Of course, most people think you married Mona-Lisa for her money.
When we met, I had my own money. I was living well. True, she has her money but I love her for who she is. But we help each other financially, just like other couples do.
How did you meet?
I shared a video of my song, Gutujja on Facebook and Mona-Lisa’s friend, HIpipo Marie Jose, shared it on her page. My wife liked it and commented, although she did not understand the language.
There were two comments on the video and hers was the first. HIpipo told me that I had a new fan, so I went to the comments section and sent her a friend request, which she accepted.
You see, you first love your friends before you can have an affair with them. You cannot love your enemies.
Mona-Lisa became my friend and we chatted for 11 months. In December 2014, she flew in to visit me. Our love grew after our first meeting and we started connecting.
What attracted you to her?
She understands me. She can look at me and know when I am pissed off. And she accepted me the way I am.
The decision to marry never comes easily for men. Did you agonise over it?
When she returned in April to spend Easter with me, I developed more interest in her. I proposed to her and she accepted before returning to Sweden.
How did you propose? Did you go down on one knee?
There are many ways of proposing to a woman. Just know that I proposed, although I did not kneel down.
What was your family’s reaction to your choice of a wife?
(A slight frown mars his previously cool demeanor. There is irritation in his voice). I am glad you have asked this question, instead of writing about things you do not know, like other newspapers.
Let me make it clear that my wife is a human being. She is not from another planet. She has red blood just like you. Being old does not mean that she cannot be loved.
I did not commit a crime by loving her. There was no need to seek my family’s approval before marrying her.
The social life of a musician is quite a cross. Your Swedish wife knows nothing about this kind of life. Won’t it break her?
Before we got married, she was aware that I am a musician. She knows I have to perform at concerts and I have to travel. My boss, Jose Chameleone, has been married for a long time, yet he travels a lot and leaves his wife at home.
As long as Mona-Lisa trusts me and knows that when I travel I will always come back to her, we will be fine. Couples need to trust each other. To love a musician, you have to be strong.
Because I am a celebrity, people will want to pose for pictures with me everywhere I go. It is easy for her to be jealous but the good thing is that she knows I love her very much.
Mona-Lisa is a teacher in Stockholm, Sweden. She has been married before and has children. Since English is not her first language, we kept her interview short.
Your friend shared a music video with you, you commented on it, yet you knew nothing about Ugandan music.
Actually Jose Chameleone and Papa Cidy (both local musicians) had performed in Holland some time back so my friend was able to explain to me who Leone Island was. So I got to know about their music and I loved it.
So you just flew in, without knowing anyone here. It must have been unnerving for you.
I am not new to Africa, although it was my first time in Uganda.
However, I have a friend who has lived here before and she assured me that it was a good country and the people were friendly.
Were your people happy when you told them you were getting married again?
I do what I want to do, anytime. I did not need permission or support from anyone to get married. I know that people talk a lot but I am a strong woman. I do not take whatever they say to heart.
What do you think strengthens love in a marriage?
Communication is necessary. A couple has to understand each other. A woman has to have her own life so that she does not pester her husband for attention. My husband is a musician and artistes need freedom to work.
What do you do in your other life?
I love travelling, painting and drama.
Where do your children live?
They live in Sweden.
Has your husband met them?
No. But in December, we are planning to go to Sweden.
What is it that you found attractive about Ronald?
He is deep. He can talk about important things, not just about clothes and shoes. And I love the way he takes care of me. Some men forget their wives but he is not like that.
This is only your fourth day in marriage – in a different culture. Things might be different from your first experience.
Yes, we have been together three times, but for very short periods. Now that we are married, we will get to know each other well. I will learn his culture, then we will fly to Sweden and he can learn my culture.
How do you resolve conflicts in your relationship?
We communicate. Fights come when there is a misunderstanding. When you know you are in the wrong, say sorry and promise not to do it again. Also, people should learn to listen when their partners are communicating to them.
What makes you happy?
Happiness is relative. It is the small things that really get me. We eat together. We talk together. When my husband is happy, I am happy.
Where do you plan to make your home?
Both here and in Sweden. His music is known here so we have to spend time in Uganda. We also would like to help orphans with the basic necessities. I love working with children and I hope to get an opportunity to do so.
What is your husband’s favourite food?
I have not yet learnt a lot about Ugandan food, but he likes fish and meat.
Your last words?
The video of our wedding has been allover the Internet. People are interested in it in Kenya, Tanzania and even Switzerland. That is something big.