Elizabeth Kahunde hails from Mwenge County, Kyenjojo District whose women, Blaise Kankya had heard were hard working. She also comes from a lineage of reverends which gave him an assurance of a partner in spiritual matters, Joan Salmon writes.
Upon hearing her introduce herself as she contested for the students’ coordinator post in the College of Education and External Studies (CEES) conference hall where they had gathered for orientation, Blaise Atwoki Kankya’s heartbeat more than doubled.
“There was something special about Elizabeth Kahunde and I considered her my answered prayer there and then,” Blaise says.
For Elizabeth, the first thing that drew her to him was the common language.
Both were external students of Bachelor of Education.
“While we became great friends, I did not suspect he had interest in me until he invited me to his brother’s wedding. There he introduced me to his relatives as a friend. He later told me they appreciated our friendship and then asked for my hand in marriage,” Elizabeth says.
It took Elizabeth quite a while to respond to the proposal and Blaise could have given up.
“Then I heard the voice of God telling me he was the man I had been waiting for. That was the sign because I had come to see him as a courageous, caring and loving man who suited a big percentage of my interests,” she says.
On the other hand, Blaise loved her confidence having prayed for a strong woman that would match his personality. Her intelligence also endeared her to him. She was among the few first class students in their class having obtained a GPA of 4.75.
Elizabeth, who hails from Mwenge County, Kyenjojo is also selfless, having sacrificed her time to teach him essay writing which helped Blaise’s grades.
The Kankya’s courtship was mainly done on phone since they were far apart teaching; Blaise in Kabarole and Elizabeth in Mitooma.
“The only precious moment we ever got to chat face to face was after lectures in the evening yet I also needed to ensure I was home before darkness,” she says.
These chats usually lasted 30 minutes and were held in the open.
“Once in a while, we would also go for a cup of tea in Club 5,” Blaise says.
Nonetheless, the ‘good morning’ and ‘good night’ calls were like the glue that stuck them together when they were apart yet also holding dear the principle of no sex before marriage.
While Blaise had wanted to marry Elizabeth after their second semester of second year, they later agreed to first finish school.
“That waiting time was a trying moment for me because I was afraid other men would take her away from me. It was refreshing when we set dates for our ceremonies; August 18 and 20, 2015 for Okweranga (Introduction) and wedding ceremonies respectively,” Blaise says
Leaning on the Runyoro-Rutooro saying; Okwata nolekera obamwana? (Why do you keep losing valuables like a child?), Blaise diverted his final semester tuition for the Okurorairembo (first visit).
“Elizabeth was worth the sacrifice. Later, we shifted the dates to August 6 and 8 because 20 coincided with another family wedding,” he says.
After the first visit, Elizabeth suggested they open a joint account to save for the functions, and she made the initial deposit, something Blaise says was awe-inspiring!
“By the time we wrote our last papers in May (three months to our wedding), we had saved for the bride price. I trusted God for total provision, continually assuring Elizabeth that all would be well. It sure was as God worked through family and friends to generously contribute to the success of the functions,” he adds.
Initially, the reception was to be at Blaise’s home, but owing to culture which would prohibit Elizabeth’s parents attending her wedding reception, if it is held at the groom’s home, he changed the venue.
“The only wedding gift Elizabeth desired was for her parents listen to her speech. So, I insisted on our wedding reception to be shifted although I knew I would not please most of my people. I weathered it all because my bride would be happy and my father (RIP) had blessed it,” Blaise says.
The wedding was held at St. John’s Cathedral, Fort Portal and the reception in Chayana Gardens. The entourage comprised five bridesmaids, five groomsmen, a best man, a matron, four pageboys and two flower girls.
Marriage came with several changes, making the first year tough.
“Elizabeth worked very far from home and we needed that money to kick start us. But that moment when barely two weeks into marriage, she was leaving for work was too much. Telephone calls were not fulfilling enough and at the end of third term, she resigned, sacrificing her job for marriage. I still count it as a blessing,” Blaise says.
In January 2016, Elizabeth and Blaise graduated and for Blaise, Makerere had rewarded him twice. Having excelled with a first class degree, he chose to apply for a Master’s degree in March, 2016 so he could teach in a university, among other opportunities.
“I was a primary school teacher by then and needed a better paying job to ably provide for my wife and family. My siblings thought it was an insane move and advised me to wait for at least a year because we had debts to pay, and Elizabeth needed support in her new environment,” he says.
Elizabeth blessed her husband’s pursuit but reality dawned on her when after few months with her husband at home, he left Kabarole for Kampala.
“I was new (in Kabarole) but worse lurked in the dark; a family land wrangle that ended up in court. He later asked me to join him in Kampala as he settled the dispute. Up until now these are not yet resolved. During all that, he lost his government job yet the court issues demanded a lot of money, besides tuition and a family needs,” she says.
Despite the gloom, Blaise is thankful for Elizabeth’s continued support. He was eventually recruited as a language tutor on the B.Ed/External programme soon after completing his first year.
“I was also later awarded the Master degree of Education in Language and Literature in the recent MAK’s 71st graduation ceremony,” he says.
Additionally, they are now writing textbooks with MK Publishers.
Prayer has always been an answer to most of the challenges they have faced including personality differences, where Elizabeth loves order and neatness yet Blaise is the direct opposite; always taking risks which irks her.
“We pray as family as her parents always wake us up to pray at 3:00 am. At first, I found the practice disturbing but later got to understand its value,” he says.
Blessed with five children; two boys and three girls, the Kankyas are working hard to support them realise their dreams.
“By the time we married, I had two children from a previous relationship while she had one. God has blessed us with two more. The eldest is 13 and the last is eight months. Our boys have completed P7 and we are prayerfully waiting that they excel and get admitted in schools of their first choice,” he says.
Communication is key
Blaise advises young people to consider marriage as an investment.
“Do not settle for someone that would not add value to you and fight for your marriage like any other investment. Sometimes it is threatened either from the inside or outside. Always look for a working solution, beginning by meditating on the way you treat your spouse.”
Elizabeth says those in courtship, among other things, should discuss about the number of children they would like to have.
“This will help avoid clashes because I have seen many couples in disagreement over the number of children as well as the names.”