‘We never leave quarrels unresolved’

Albert and Julie. 

What you need to know:

  • Albert and Julie have been together for more than 10 years.
  • During this time, they have learnt that one of the most important aspects of any relationship is communication.
  • When they have a misunderstanding, they sit down and find a solution before doing anything else.

During a field study with an Italian anthropology professor in 2006, Albert Bisaso Ssempeke met Julie Namubiru in Namuwongo, Kampala. They met at the home of Fatuma Nabakyaala, which Namubiru frequented.  Because he was smitten by her beauty, he asked Nabakyaala for Julie’s contact. The first time they met, Julie remebers, Albert was dressed to kill in white shorts and a red shirt. 

“Even then, I had no desire to start a relationship with Albert. I knew most of his family members, many of whom had grown up in Namuwongo and worked in the nearby Kisugu Market, but I had never given a relationship much thought,” she says. 

Albert is a folk musician and traditional music performer, and is currently a student at South Africa’s Rhodes University while Julie is a businesswoman. From the beginning, Albert says he was attracted to her because of the kindness she showed others. 

“Her kindness towards others showed me that she would help me grow as a person and enable me to start and have a happy family,” he says. 

However, when they first started dating, she learnt that he was already in a relationship so she did not see any reason to commit to someone who already had a wife.

“For our first date, he invited me for dinner. At first, I thought it was a joke until one day he invited my cousin Fiona and I for a concert at the National Theatre in Kampala. This time, he made his intentions known and I knew how serious he was,” Julie says.

“I had been through a number of relationships which had all ended in breakups. I was heartbroken and uninterested in relationships, believing that all women are the same. Instead, I engrossed myself in my music. However, when I first met Julie, I was taken aback by how effectively she was able to read me and understand who I was as a person. I considered her a true friend and knew that she would make the perfect partner,” he says.

Albert and Julie. 

With time, Julie was also convinced that he was the one, especially after seeing his commitment and determination to make their relationship work. Then she got pregnant and one of the memories etched in his memory is the day she gave birth to their first child and almost died in the process. After this, he was convinced that she was the one so he went on to propose marriage to her. After 10 years together, they started living together although he is yet to officially wed her. 

“In order to find a suitable wife, I had to take my time and study her while ticking all the necessary boxes. I have to say that she passed with flying colours,” he says, adding that one of these plans is to visit her family and hold an introduction ceremony. 

“Although we have not been able to do this, we hope to fulfil this dream soon, with God’s help. Currently, we are on a journey of trying to build profitable businesses to support our family,” he says.

The lovebirds agree and believe that investing the money they make and save, is important and will help secure their future as a family. They also believe that to make any relationship work, the couple must always communicate even when they have misunderstandings. They also emphasise the importance of marrying your friend. 

“If misunderstandings come up, we sit down and talk through them and come to an understanding. We never leave issues fester,” Julie says.

“Before starting a relationship, sit down with your partner and candidly share your worries, future goals and plans and what you expect out of the relationship, considering both your culture and your faith. Then, have a discussion with elders who have been married for a while. These, I believe have been through a lot together and have been able to overcome. Their tips on how they have been able to make it are priceless,” Albert advises.