Sports and the teaching profession brought Cecilia and Francis Xavier Kasibante together. Before that, he recalls seeing her during Trinity College Nabbingo’s visit to Nadangira Junior High School.
“In 1964, she was a netballer and because I love the game, I would always watch when different schools came to play. Later, we met at Nkozi Teacher Training School and after finishing the course, we were both appointed to teach Primary Seven classes at Kiziba Primary School and also given the extra role of training pupils as games master and games mistress respectively,” he recollects.
She was an English and Geography teacher while he taught Mathematics. Beyond the official calling and assignments, there was the natural spark. At the time, they each earned Shs310 and since they were still young with very few responsibilities, they chose to explore, albeit responsibly. Some of the photographs they share, from their old photography albums, are of their youthful years at the beach, cinema and during evening walks.
Cecilia says, like many women, she had suitors and it was her duty to observe and find out who among the many men, was worth getting closer to and starting a relationship that would later end in marriage. As such, Francis recalls patiently waiting for her to give him a response when he proposed the idea of them transitioning their relationship from being just friends to becoming ‘an item’.
And it was beyond looks and height. She started noticing other qualities in him such as the fact that he was a good listener and would take care of her. As she shares this, Francis bellows out a love song that praises a young, well-behaved, fashionable boy. Certainly, he is validating the reasons she eventually fell in love with him.
“We were always together, especially when getting the Primary Seven candidates ready for their exams. We would also always meet while coaching the various games. It was only natural that we grew fond of each other and started to fall in love,” Cecilia recalls.
Francis says when he proposed, Cecilia sternly asked whether he was serious and had really made up his mind. She took her time giving him an answer because at home, her mother had cautioned her about ‘the boys’. However, after this insistence and constantly proving that she was the one he wanted to marry, Cecilia said yes a year later.
On November 14, 1970 the two tied the knot and this year, the couple celebrated 50 years of marriage. Looking back at the half century, Francis says they have not faced major challenges, attributing part of their strength to their commitment as servants in the Catholic Church. “We have not had a quarrel or misunderstanding that would warrant one of us telling the other to pack their bags and leave our marital home. We have always listened to one another and agreed on what and how to do things,” Francis says.
The couple say because the teaching profession would not adequately cater for their needs, especially supporting their children in traditional schools which were expensive, they agreed to engage in animal husbandry to supplement their incomes.
At some point, Francis and Cecilia agreed that he finds another job in public service and later local government in order to earn more money and enable them to break even. He worked in the custodian board during Idi Amin’s regime and served in local government thereafter.
Cecilia, on the other hand continued teaching at Mugwanya Preparatory School, Kabojja. Out of her hard work and commitment since 1971, the school offered two of her children scholarships.
Francis adds that because they were friends first and have continued to build this friendship throughout their marriage, they have been able to achieve a lot together.
“When God blessed us with children, we also made them our friends, which I believe strengthened our family since it was easy to talk to them about different issues. This way, they appreciated that we were working so hard to make sure they attained an education and so fulfilled their commitment to stay in school and strive to get good grades,” he says.
Serving in church
Currently, Cecilia is a leader of the marrieds at a Catholic church in Nabaliga Parish, Bombo. Francis is a lay leader at the same church.
The couple say character plays a big role in marriage, emphasising that the values one picks from their parents or guardians while growing up feeds into their personality and as such, influences how they handle issues and ultimately, their partners, children and the marriage institution at large.
At a glance
Francis was born in Kitebere, Mityana District to Petero Ssentamu and Farasca Namutebi on January 1, 1948. His wife Cecilia Nansubuga was born on February 26, 1949 to Antonio Nsubuga and Angela Nakimu in Butooro, Gooli in Mawokota, Mpigi District.
Since they are both out of active employment, to keep busy and also physically fit, the Kasibantes wake up early to till their land and tend to their animals, activities they say have also been sources of food and money for the family.