‘Him having children out of wedlock was very hard to accept’

The couple says to overcome challenges in marriage, a couple must always communicate. PHOTO | PROMISE TWINAMUKYE

What you need to know:

  • Leilah Kansiime and Abbas Byaruhanga are high school sweethearts. However, among all the challenges they have faced in their relationship, her husband having children out of wedlock almost made her call it quits. 

Leilah Kansiime, a businesswoman, met Abbas Byaruhanga, a lawyer while at St Balikudembe Secondary School, Mitala Maria. Byaruhanga, who had just transferred to the school was such a good footballer and the talk of the whole school. So, before meeting, Kansiime had heard a lot about him from fellow students. 

Although she had never had a boyfriend, she knew the person her heart would skip a bit for would be her future husband. Luckily, Byaruhanga possessed all the qualities she wanted in a man. The moment she set her eyes on him, her heart started pounding. 

“While in class, he came to greet me. I felt so special. But he was a celebrity. Chances of him falling in love with me were very slim. But I was hopeful,” she says.

However, Byaruhanga had already set his eyes on her.

“She was very intelligent, always smart, attractive and one of a kind,” he says.


When Byaruhanga was involved in an accident and was in coma for almost three weeks in the second term of their final year in high school, Kansiime was very worried. The girl who used to ace her exams could not anymore. 

When he finally came out of the coma, she knew she did not want to live the rest of her life without him by her side. As they bid farewell at the end of their high school journey, she gave him her necklace, which she said she would get back when they met again. He, on the other hand, shared his brother’s phone number and asked her to keep touch.

During their vacation, Kansiime, who lived in Kyenjonjo District in western Uganda, convinced her father to let her travel to Kampala in search of a job. 

“I started living with an aunt and got a job as a shop attendant, earning Shs3,000 a day. Of this, I would save Shs2,000,” she says.

However, a misunderstanding at her aunt’s place forced her to seek refuge at her uncle’s place but he also fell ill and relocated to the village, albeit with all her savings. 

Unable to pay the required rent, the landlord started demanding for sexual favours instead. One day, she was saved from the landlord’s advances by Byaruhanga who had come to visit her. He then took her to his friend’s house where she stayed until Byaruhanga could afford a place of his own. A few months later, he rented a one-bedroom house and they moved in together.

She started working in a restaurant and the couple would often survive on the ‘freebies’ she brought home. He was in school then and in 2006, he sat his last paper on the same day they had their first child. When he started working, they rented a two-roomed house.

During that time, he also converted to Islam , thus changing his name to Abbas in 2010. However, Kansiime did not budge.

“I did not want to become a Muslim. So, I would go to church, and he to the mosque. The children would mostly go with me to church, but would observe Ramadan with their father,” she says.

This arrangement  proved hard, with curious children wanting to know why they have different religions and both Christian and Muslim names.

“One day, my boy asked me, ‘Why don’t you change to daddy’s religion? Why don’t you fast with us mommy?’ But although i would always ponder about these questions, I remained strong. I was a Born Again christian and did not want to change,” she says.

When Byaruhanga decided they would get married in a mosque, she had to think harder. Three weeks to the wedding, she decided to convert to Islam, changing her name to Leilah. On March 9, they tied the knot at Kibuli Mosque in Kampala.

Broken promises

When Kansiime realised her husband had had children outside their marriage, she did not take it well. 

“We have four children together but we have nine altogether. Three of the children I had out of wedlock while two are adopted. Although I had kept it a secret for some time, the guilt was killing me and I had to tell my wife. I was ready to face all the consequences,” he recalls. 

Although she was devastated, she remembered the person her heart skipped a beat for in high school. 

“The children were also innocent. My mother had aken care of a lot of children who were not her biological children so, I decided to borrow a leaf from her,” she says.   

“I asked my husband to bring the children so that we live together as a family. And although it was hard at first, I thank God that now, they can understand and love each other as siblings should,” she says.


Byaruhanga says you should marry someone who loves you because when you do that, everything will fall in place. There is a time they did not have money but his wife stuck with him even when she had to eat Kikomando (chapatti and beans). A person who does not love you enough would have run already.

Having faith and praying to God, according to Kansiime, helped her cope through the challenges. She adds that when one is angry and prays about it, by the time the prayer is done, one will have calmed down enough to sensibly settle any situation. 

The couple also advise partners to never involve children in their marital quarrels.

“Our children have never seen us quarrel, or even me shouting at their mother. When we have issues, we go way, fight all we want and come back home when we have come to an understanding,” Byaruhanga says.

Trust in a home, the couple says, goes a long way to keep a marriage strong. Even without passwords on their phones, there is is peace because they each have nothing to hide.