‘I rejected his advances thinking he was a liar’

Willington Mugabe and Solanji Tusiime on their wedding day. Photo/Courtesy

What you need to know:

Willington Mugabe knew Solanji Tusiime was business-minded and asked to meet her to discuss some business prospects. However, when he later asked to be her boyfriend, she said no, believing he was not a straightforward person.

Solanji Tusiime and Don Willington Mugabe had been friends on Facebook for three years. They both have business minds and in 2020, Willington had read about her entrepreneurial skills in a publication and asked that they meet for a business discussion.

Since I am a sales and marketing person, I sold her my idea when we met but she did not buy it. We had been friends on Facebook for some time and would often chat but when I met her, she was very enterprising. I wanted to have her as part of my network of business people.

The two kept in touch and in a few months, Willington had developed romantic feelings for Solanji. Although he was clear about his intentions from the beginning, she declined several attempts from him.

 “I thought he was just like all the other men. In fact, I started doubting his intentions for inviting me to a business meeting in the first place. I believed he lied and just wanted to date so I told him I was not interested in dating anyone. What made me change my mind was the fact that even when kept saying no, he stayed,” she says.

By January 2021, the two had developed romantic feelings for each other and on their first date, he kissed her. She had fallen in love with his persistence, integrity and the fact that they were like minded.

The proposal

By the time the lockdown was lifted at the end of 2021, Willington had lost his business and only source of income. But because he was frank about it, Soranji stayed by his side.

“She wanted to see me grow so she would always encourage me. We then chose to date until the next year, when we would make things official,” he says.

Solanji, who had grown up as an Anglican chose to convert to my religion and on August 19, she chose to join the Seventh-day Adventist Church. A few days later, Willington proposed.

“On the day, I called her and told her to come smartly dressed since we had a meeting with the pastor that evening. I had already planned the proposal with a few friends and when she arrived, they displayed their placards that read, will you marry me?”

“There was no pastor! He was the pastor I met that evening. I was very surprised and happy. There was no better time to say yes than this. He made me feel special. We did not date for a long time but I knew he was the one,” she recalls. 


After the proposal, the two had planned to hold all other ceremonies within the shortest time possible. The first was to take dowry to Solanji’s parents but this could not be done before her confessing to her parents that she had converted to James’s religion.

“My father was okay with it but my mother was hurt. This delayed our dowry and give-away functions because it took her time to come to terms with it. Fortunately, the priests in the Anglican Church comforted her, telling her to concentrate on the fact that we loved each other,” she says.

After this impasse, the couple were able to hold all their ceremonies (Kukyaala, kwanjula and wedding) in six weeks, and although they did not have a lot of money saved, their social networks came in handy.

Willington says one of the most important aspects of their wedding was clearing the church fee, dressing for both the bride and the groom and photography. They tied the knot on January 2, 2022.

“Our budget was Shs13m, with the most money going towards food. We had a pool of resources and choose to have a simple wedding. My best moment was at the entrance to the reception when the MC asked that we dance. I do not think I can ever dance in public again the way I did,” he says.

The couple later had a blissful wedding night at Rwenzori Mountains Gateway that cost $140 (about Shs532,000). A friend also later offered to fully sponsor their honeymoon at Samuka Island Retreat in Jinja.

Lessons learnt

Since their meeting in 2020, the couple has learnt the importance of being there for each other despite challenges that come their way. For instance, after their wedding, Solanji lost her job but despite the challenges this has presented, James has loved her regardless.

“We have been there for each other. When I lost my job and we moved to a different location, I felt so helpless but he was there for me. He helped me look for a job and has always pushed me to do better,” she says.

“My husband knows when I am not okay, even when we just talk on the phone. He always makes sure to take me out on a date so that we talk about what is bothering me and together, come up with a solution,” she adds.

Willington says was initially not a talkative person but after marriage, he realised that it is very important to communicate one’s feelings.

“She has greatly influenced my success and has impacted on who I am today. I have also realised that good women still exist. I have learnt to be responsible and patient,” he adds.

Overcoming challenges

Like any other couple, the couple fight but still sit and talk about their issues. To Willington, “Apologising means ‘let our journey continue’. When there is an issue I know she will not perceive in the correct way, I send her a text so we communicate with messages which we delete after we have solved the issue. There is no problem that is not solvable if you talk about it.”

About finances, the Mugabes have a joint business and together, they plan for the money made. They also have a joint savings account and agree on how much to save and expenses.