Alibankohas: True meaning of ‘Till death do us part’

Salongo Yusuf Alibankoha Abooki and Nalongo Alibankoha Nabutono Akiiki have been together for 71 years and have been blessed with 10 children.

What you need to know:

Salongo Yusuf Alibankoha Abooki and Nalongo Alibankoha Nabutono Akiiki have been together for 71 years and have been blessed with 10 children. Theirs is a testimony that true love indeed exists and it is possible for marriage to work, writes Beatrice Nakibuuka.

From the start, Salongo Yusuf Alibankoha Abooki and Nalongo Alibankoha Nabutono Akiiki put God as the pillar and author of their marriage. Yusuf believes God prepared his wife specifically for him because on the day they met, he told her he wanted her for a wife.

“I did not hesitate to say yes because I did not have anyone else in mind. I was not sure what this really meant but I knew many people who were married, so I told my parents I had found the one,” Nabutono says.

“When I visited her parents’ home, I was warmly welcomed and her parents asked that I pay dowry worth Shs300, which I gladly paid. I could afford it because I had just returned from Kampala where I would occasionally go to work,” he says.

On the day of the wedding, their entourage included a few children as maids, a matron and best man.

“Although I was not yet 18, I was chubby so most people believed I was 18. It was not hard preparing for the wedding day. I bought a long white dress for my gown and the only transport we needed and used to church were bicycles,” Nabutono says.

The couple wedded on April 21, 1952 at Nchwanga Seventh Day Adventist Church, the only place they would get a pastor to wed them. The church was about 29 kilometres from Karuguuza, Kibaale in western Uganda where they lived.

We did not take any photographs on the day since there was only one photographer who lived miles away and could not make it. After the pastor wedded us, we went home and had a meal and several people came to celebrate with us.

Beyond the wedding day

The couple first lived with their parents and that is where they had their first two children. While Nabutono would till the land at home, Yusuf would travel as far as Kyagwe (present day Kayunga, Mukono) where he would provide manual labour and make pots that he would sell and return home after every two to three months.

“The money I made sustained us until in 1956 when I realised I needed to be closer to my wife who had now given birth to two children. I stopped travelling to Kyaggwe and decided to start farming. It was a hard decision because at the time I was also part of the ministry that was now teaching and preaching to people in the Seventh Day Adventist Church that had been planted in Ndese Village in Mukono District,” Yusuf says.

The couple with two of their grandchildren. PHOTOs/Beatrice Nakibuuka

He then thought this was the time for him to leave his father’s home and become independent. He wanted to grow some coffee and be able to send his children to good schools.

“Although my wife and I are able to read and write, we did not go to school. I was determined to give my children a good education. Although the money I earned from farming was not a lot, living at home with my family was the right decision,” he adds.

After making the decision to move out of his parents’ Yusuf went to the Ggombolola chief and  asked for a piece of land for tilling. He recalls the chief showing him the boundaries of his land which was 20 miles (32km) away from his parents’ home. He paid for the land with a gourd of local brew that cost Shs10 and a letter from the chief confirmed he owned the piece of land.

“The children and I continued living with my in-laws while my husband went to prepare a place for us to stay. After a few months, we joined him. He had already built a house. His relatives gave him some seeds and seedlings and that is how we started our home in Kyadyoko Mabaale in Kagadi District,” Nabutono recalls.

In the new home, she was responsible for digging and preaching to the children while her husband also took part in caring for the piece of land and working for the church. He was a messenger and would deliver written communication to the different churches around the Bunyoro area on a bicycle.

Managing hard times

Nabutono always had the support of her husband, especially during labour. He would push her on a bicycle to the hospital to deliver all the children. This was the only means of transport they had. Yusuf says for all the nine times he took his wife to Kagadi Hospital, she was heaviest in 1975 when she was carrying the twins.

“And I had aged so my energy was also waning. On this day, the journey of 18 miles to the hospital was really felt,” he says.

By the time the 1979 liberation war started, Yusuf was suffering from chronic back pain. He told his household to go into the nearby forest to hide and let him stay at home since he could not walk.

“I had given up on life. I was in intense pain and could not run as the youngsters. I told them to leave me and go so that if the soldiers came, they would be spared. Fortunately, God’s protective hand was upon us. We did not face any trouble,” he says

The coffee wilt disease affected their coffee plantation and they had to cut it down but this did not interfere with their relationship, even though the plantation was their only source of income. Together, they got new coffee seedlings and planted again.

Raising children

The Alibankohas have raised their 10 children in the fear of God and this was Nabutono’s responsibility. When it came to discipline, it was the responsibility of both parents. They also worked hard together in the garden and from what they earned, they decided to take their children to Christian-based schools.

“We did not have a lot of money but we purposed to educate our children because we knew it is an investment. We never hesitated to educate even our grandchildren when there was need. Today, even in our old age, they take good care of us,” Nabutono testifies.


The couple attests to unity as a couple and praying together as important pillars that keep families together.

“It is important to listen to your wife. If she asks you not to do something, do not do it because in most cases, if you go against her wishes, you will regret it.

Nabutono says sacrifice and commitment are very important aspects in any marriage.

“In marriage, there are many challenges but some things are better kept to yourselves. Other people will laugh at you and are only waiting for the day you break up. You may sometimes have to sacrifice to stay in a marriage, especially to give your children a better future,” she says.