What you need to know:
Milton Wabyona and Naomi Kabarungi had dated for a while and although Naomi was still okay with just dating, Milton had already made up his mind and wanted her for a wife. Skipping the proposal to just planning a wedding was practical for him although Naomi feels she missed out on this romantic step in every relationship.
Naomi Kabarungi and Milton Wabyona met at Makerere University in 2000 as students; Naomi in her first year pursuing a Diploma in Music, Dance and Drama and a Bachelor’s in Music, having completed the diploma earlier.
At the then Music Dance and Drama (MDD) department, learning was interactive and exceptional students would sometimes teach practical sessions alongside lecturers.
“It did not matter whether you were a diploma, bachelors or master’s student, or even an already performing artiste. Everyone had to take part in the practical classes, especially in the build up to the practical exam referred to as the People’s Theatre,” Naomi recounts.
“Milton was among those who would lead the sessions, and it was not immediately obvious, especially to those who had just joined the course, as myself, that they were students,” she adds.
Milton was amazed by Naomi’s confidence despite being a new student (‘fresher’).
“She was the most vocal in her class. She became the students representative and was not afraid to ask for what she wanted me,” Milton recalls, adding that she was also strikingly beautiful. He admired her tenacity so much that he promised himself that one day, he would ask her out on a date.
Naomi says Milton was bold and popular but although they were always in the same social groups, she kept her distance.
With time, Milton wondered why Naomi showed no interest in him despite his efforts. While he did not make his intentions immediately clear, he made every effort to interact with Naomi.
Although she was always polite and gave him time when he wanted to chat, she did not show any romantic interest in him.
“I was not looking for a boyfriend; I had just become a ‘young and free adult’ and was looking forward to an exciting and independent life that I knew campus would offer. Marriage was the last thing on my mind,” says Naomi.
Milton on the other hand was a self-made man, having been orphaned at a tender age and had done odd jobs to fend for himself from the young age of 13.
“I went to school only part-time for much of my upper primary and secondary school education. I would drop out and work to make ends meet and would return to school whenever I made enough money to pay for exams,” recounts Milton.
“Milton was a gifted and ambitious man, always pursuing something and interestingly, getting it. He was great company and impressively independent. I had no idea that his present pursuit was marriage, and that I was the target,” Naomi explains.
Despite their differences in purpose, they quickly became good friends who shared social interests, church fellowships and introduced each other to close family.
Naomi says spending time with Milton made her feel safe. Usually, they would attend concerts and as one of the performers, he would give her extra tickets for friends and family.
“I felt safe and at peace when I interacted with him. I did not feel any pressure or worry whenever we were together. The more time I spent with him, the more I knew he would make a wonderful husband,” Naomi says.
Naomi shares that her Christian upbringing as well as the Alpha Course (a Bible Class at St Francis Chapel Makerere at the time that the couple took at the same time) that instilled the commitment to choose the right thing at the right time, gave their budding relationship a strong foundation.
“It helped a lot that I had introduced Milton to my mother and all my siblings from the get-go. Growing up, my siblings and I had a 6pm curfew and many other disciplinary standards, or else one would face the home high court with my father as judge if you much as fell below par. We kept the unwritten code of “family accountability” when we were grown and away from home, even when our father had long passed,” she says.
Similarly, Milton was a committed Christian and had set his values of not disrespecting women or cohabiting before marriage.
“My friends did not understand why I rented a whole house and stayed there alone while Naomi also lived alone yet I was planning to marry her,” Milton recalls.
Milton and Naomi dated between 2001 and 2005. While this felt too long for Milton, for Naomi it was okay.
“I was ambitious. I had finished the diploma and started my bachelors’ degree in Mass Communication. I wanted to study, get a job and earn my own money before settling for marriage,” Naomi says, adding that by the time she married Milton, she was ready.
Naomi and Milton exchanged their vows on September 3, 2005, at All saints Cathedral in Nakasero, Kampala, after a family introduction ceremony on July 11, the same year.
While Naomi feels they missed out on the romance of being an engaged couple for a while and planning an exquisite wedding, Milton says the timing was perfect with only less than three months between the introduction ceremony and their wedding day.
“I have never had to call him “my fiancé” or other cute names; one moment he was Milo and the next, husband,” Naomi jokes.
“I could not wait any longer. I had planned it all out individually, selected the dates for all the ceremonies and one evening in April 2005, I literally bombarded Naomi with a demand for her to tell her mother that we were getting married or else I would do it myself; that was my proposal,” says Milton.
For Milton, the wedding was just an event, what he looked forward to was the marriage. Milton and Naomi’s wedding was a modest one with 250 wedding guests at Ndere Cultural Centre, Ntinda, Kampala.
“I did not have much money other than my salary and I am thankful that even with our modest arrangements we had quite a beautiful black and white themed wedding,” Milton recalls.
Naomi says it was a stress-free wedding for her as Milton handled all the preparations.
The couple says their first year of marriage was the most enjoyable as they went smoothly back into their school and work routines without the pressure of having yet, only having their first born son after Naomi’s graduation in 2007.
Milton and Naomi are blessed with four children and serve in the pre-marital counselling Ministry at St Francis Chapel, Makerere. Milton is also a lecturer at Makerere University while Naomi is a communications manager.
“We had great counselling and mentorship, and we have been blessed immensely with church fellowship and family that prays for and supports us in all ways,” says Milton.
Naomi says that every marriage is uniquely weaved and is guided by God.
“18 years have rushed by. I am still waiting for the romantic “honey will you marry me” proposal but in the meantime, we are having a wonderful time loving each other and our children,” says Naomi.
“What I would tell any young person wanting to get married is that love eventually grows and it matures beautifully. However, you must nurture it, as you do a plant. I love to say we are stuck together, and we wake up each day and choose to be together, forever, regardless,” Naomi adds.