For love, Yiga will speak in ‘tongues’

Yiga and Dorothy say culture is dynamic and should never be a hindrance for two hearts willing to unite.

Photo by Rachel Mabala

What you need to know:

Crossing borders. She was in her P.7 vacation when they first met, and when he went back to Japan and returned 10 years later, she had blossomed into something else - an object of his affection. Freddie Kakembo spoke to Kenichi Yiga, the Luganda-speaking Japanese and his wife Dorothy on how they will manage the cultural difference.


Tell me about yourself.
I am Kenichi Shiiya Yiga Omujapani, originally from Hokkaido northern Japan. I am the second born in a family of two. I teach Mathematics and ICT at Hana Mixed Secondary School along Kampala–Masaka Highway.

How did you get your kiganda name and clan?
It was given to me by my first Ugandan friend.

How did you meet your wife?
My wife Dorothy Becky Nalwanga Shiiya and I first met on Christmas in 2005 at the Church of God, Kireka where I had been invited by her elder sister. I was hanging Christmas lights when I touched a naked wire. I got shocked and she was the first person to come to my rescue.
She was in her Primary Seven vacation then. She was still a baby and I had no feelings for her. Actually, I went back to Japan and only returned this year.

So, when did you see her again?
When I returned 10 years later, I went to visit her elder sister and that is when I bumped into her again. When I saw her, my heart skipped a beat. I wondered aloud who this beauty was and I was reminded that she was the little girl who came to my rescue 10 years ago.
We exchanged pleasantries, had a small chat, exchanged phone numbers, and after a few days she called and invited me to her nephew’s birthday party. At the party, all guests were asked to introduce themselves and their relationship status. I said I was single and when it came to her turn, she said she was single and searchable. That gave me a hint, but I did not approach her immediately.

What drew you to her?
Her personality, beauty and intellect.

How and when did you open up to her?
I invited her out a number of times before declaring my undying love for her. Although I wanted to pour my heart out the very first time we went out, I chickened out. I took it slow but all indications were clear whenever we were together and by the time I told her, she was not surprised.

Did she accept there and then?
No, she did not. She told me she needed some time to think about it.

How much time did she spend thinking?
Ah, I think about two weeks, but those were my longest two weeks ever. I was very anxious and nervous. I was later told that is how Ugandan girls are. I was relieved when she accepted.

So, why did you choose a Ugandan girl?
First and foremost Ugandan girls are generally beautiful, but Dora is the most beautiful, hardworking, and respectful woman I know. Where on earth do you find women who kneel down [for a man]?

Were you ready for the culture?
Culture is dynamic and in some aspects similar, for instance, in Japan we do not display our affection in public, which is the same here.

What culture shock did you get here?
Not being able to freely interact with my mother-in-law. One time I meant to hug her, and she almost fainted, so these days when we meet, I keep my distance.

What did your family say about your choice of wife?
At first they were skeptical, but I had made up my mind, so they had no choice but to go with my choice. My sister told me if I was happy so be it.

What about her family
Oh... they were very receptive, they gladly received me in their family. I am very happy, to be part of them.

Now that you have a family, where are you going to settle? Here or Japan?
Both. We shall have a home here and in Japan.

Talking about family, how many children do you hope to have?
I want two children and I am praying for a boy and girl.

Yiga and Dorothy during their traditional engagement party. Courtesy Photo


Tell me a bit about yourself.
I am Dorothy Rebecca Nalwanga Kalule Shiiya, a graduate teacher of English and Literature. l have just completed my teaching practice at Hana Mixed Secondary School, Nsangi.

Was it love at first sight?
No way. I was way too young when we met the first time. Actually I used to look at Yiga as a big brother.

What about when you saw him this year?
Mmmh, I was 50/50. I did not think we would end up as husband and wife. When he called me up for the first date, I was excited but almost turned it down at the last moment because I was very nervous. I had no idea what we would talk about, but I went anyway.

When did you discover that Shiiya was up to something?
He would call me almost every day, even when we had just been together. He would also send me greetings through my sister and he would always give me presents.

What drew you to him?
His personality. He is genuine, open-minded, intelligent and like me, very talkative.

Why did you take a whole two weeks to respond to his request?
I wanted to be sure. I consulted my close family members and they encouraged me to give it a shot.

You are Ugandan and he is from Japan...
Love knows no borders, boundary, colour or race.

Are you ready for his culture?
Yes I am and I am currently learning Japanese. He is my teacher.

What Japanese culture shock have you experienced so far?
None yet.

What did your family say about your choice?
They were very supportive since they already knew him.

What about his family?
I have not met any of them physically, but I hope to meet them soon when we travel to Japan. But according to the little interaction I have had with them mainly on phone, they do not seem bad.

Where are you going to settle your family?
I do not mind anywhere, provided we are together.

Talking about family, how many children do you plan to have?
I want many children, but he wants only two, so I will give him those.

Tit bits

What do you like about each other?
Kenichi: She is very respectful and God-fearing.
Dora: He is very honest and gentle.

What is your partner’s favourite food?
Kenichi: Matooke and chicken
Dora: Pilao, fresh fish (the head of a tilapia) rolex and beans, and nsenene.

What don’t you like about each other?
Kenichi: She is too friendly.
Dora: He is too frank.

Besides teaching, what else do you like doing together?
Kenichi: Housework.
Dora: Housework and cooking.

What makes your partner happy?
Kenichi: Singing and dancing.
Dora: Making others happy.

If you could change anything about each other, what would it be?
Kenichi: Nothing. She is perfect for me.
Dora: l would make him a bit taller.