What you need to know:
For the 37 years they have been married, Christopher helps his wife with all house chores. Although many think he is under a spell, he says he does not want his wife to carry the burden of doing everything.
Their conversations are filled with laughter and before we start the interview, Christopher asks that we first pray. Throughout the conversation, they make similar gestures and have the same choice of words, maintain eye contact and sigh at the same time. They are also very friendly and so connected to each other that as they age, they seem to look and sound alike.
It has been an amazing 37 years of living and working together for Ruth Kunihira and Christopher Katana Adyeri who first met in 1978 at the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church in Kihembo, Fort Portal. At the time, Christopher, who had just completed his agricultural studies at Bukalasa Agricultural College was a new convert into the SDA church and had gone to visit his church pastor.
“Because I was a new convert, I wanted to have a word with my pastor. However, because going to church had been banned by the then President Idi Amin Dada, the meeting took place at his home. Here, I also met Ruth, his daughter, who was then a Senior Three student. I spent some time with the family and at the end of my visit, the pastor encouraged me to study theology,” Christopher recalls.
A year later, he went to study theology at the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton in Kenya, and while there, Ruth’s brother, who was also a friend encouraged him to date his sister. Although he was initially against marrying a Mutooro and a pastor’s child, in 1984, he returned to Uganda with the sole intention of asking for Ruth’s hand in marriage.
“I think it was God’s plan. Although this would be my second time to meet her, I was sure she was the one. She had gone to attend a youth conference in Mitandi, Tanzania, and while there, I asked for her hand in marriage. She said yes and started planning to wed after I graduated,” he says.
“When he visited our home the first time, although I was still a Senior Three student, I was praying to God for a husband who was a pastor and with the same character as my father,” Ruth recalls.
Christopher returned to university, graduated and joined the ministry of preaching in 1985 while Ruth started teaching as a Grade III teacher. When he returned to Uganda in 1986, Ruth told her parents she had found the man of her dreams.
“We had an indoor introduction and Christopher came with only six people. They came with gifts even though my father did not ask for anything,” Ruth recalls.
Christopher says it was such a relief that his father-in-law did not ask for any bride price or dowry and this is the same legacy he has passed on to his children. The couple had enough funds to sustain them since Ruth had worked for two years as a teacher and Christopher for a year. On September 9, 1986, they tied the knot at SDA Church Kihembo, (present day Kabarole District) and were wedded by Pastor Christian Alideki, the former Archbishop, and Seventh-day Adventist Church in Uganda.
Blessed with four children (three boys and a girl) and four grandchildren, the Katanas are counting God’s blessings and believe it has been God’s hand that has seen them through the 37 years.
“Right from the start,” Christopher says, “we knew that marriage is a lifelong commitment and it is love that has kept us together for all this time. It is because of love that we have shared so many things. Life has burdens and challenges but we have overcome them with love from God above,” he says.
Ruth also remarks that one of the things that has kept them together is that they keep no secrets.
“We talk about everything. We also trusted the Lord from the start and depend on Him for everything. A family that prays together stays together,” Ruth says.
When Christopher converted, his view of marriage and family changed. He is aware that a man and woman perform different functions in a home but when it comes to duties, they become one and they share the duties. Many people, he says, cannot believe he does house chores but this is the way he runs his family.
“We share duties as husband and wife and this helps to lessen the burden of the other partner. I can cook, wash clothes and utensils, sweep and clean the house. I have never made my wife fetch water and when people see me do these things, they think I am under a black magic spell but this is my choice because I do not want my Ruth to get tired,” he remarks with a smile.
About raising children, the Katanas agree that children are different but parents must be an example from which they can copy.
She says, “We have lived an exemplary life and they copy from us. While bringing them up, we would be a bit strict and would punish them when they misbehaved. There are times when they got angry and annoyed with us but I believe with time, they realised it was for their benefit.”
The couple manage their finances together and has a joint savings account where they keep their money. When they were still in active service, they received salary at different times and whatever money they received, they used first whenever they had a need and saved what came in later.
“I am also happy to inform you that we have never had an argument that made us exchange bitter words. We have not had any conflicts. We usually agree to disagree. We actually pray that such a thing does not happen in our lives,” Christopher notes.
About the couple
Christopher Katana Adyeri is a retired pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist church while Ruth is a grade III teacher who asked for early retirement. They are now farmers but also established a church in their home during the lockdown and soon, they plan to build a permanent church there. They still do pastoral work by praying and fasting and visiting their church members whenever they are not in the garden.