I drove 80km to prove my love

The Mulondos with their son at their home. The couple has known each other for eight years. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa

What you need to know:

THE PROPOSAL. A renowned TV host, Brian Mulondo is famed for his rib cracking antiques. However, in spite of his popularity and infectious laughter, his wife Manuela let him weep to prove his love. Farahani Mukisa talked to the couple and shares their inside story.

His story
Where did you meet?
I actually met Manuela in an internet café. I was hanging out with my friends and when I saw her I wanted to know who she was. Unfortunately, my friend was interested in her and he cautioned me not to say anything to her.

That must have been frustrating. So what did you do next?
I let her be but at least I had noticed her. An opportunity presented itself when we were going to Nairobi for a church function. I met her again but this time I was not ready to let her go that easily.

So it was love at first sight?
Yes. And I did not mince words. I told her ‘I want to marry you.’

What was her response?
She thought I was joking and just laughed at me.
What happened after the accidental meeting?
We connected and even used the same bus on our way home. We chatted about so many things but I made it clear that I wanted her for a wife and not just as a friend. Shockingly, she turned down the proposal for five years.

Five years? Wasn’t that frustrating ?
Yes, it was, but I had faith that God will show her that I loved her.

Did you date other girls?
I did but nothing was serious.

How did you get to the next level?
One day, we were at the church and one of my friends told me Manuela was in Jinja at her aunt’s home. It was about 8pm so I borrowed a car from a friend and told him it was an emergency. I drove to Jinja and I got there at about 10pm.
I used that time to declare my love. Instead, I sounded like one of those characters in Nigerian movies.

What was her response?
She agreed to be my girlfriend but took another year before accepting to be my wife.

So how did you get her to accept your marriage proposal?
Frustrated, one day I tasked her why she was making me suffer. I even broke down and burst into tears.

Did your tears help?
I think my tears, the funny words I used then and all the heart wooing words I used, contributed a lot to her change of heart.

How did it feel when you finally won her over?
It was a really cool moment because that was the best news after five years of “benching”.

What kept you going during the five years?
Nothing much. Honestly, when I met her, I was shabby with my trousers tucked in the stockings, the shirt’s buttons let open, but even then I knew this was the girl of my dreams.
She was and still is magical to me because she was a blend of two people, beautiful and hardworking. I had not met anyone like her.

When did you finally make it official?
We went at Protea Hotel for dinner and sat near the water fountain. At the hotel, I secretly told the waiter to put the ring on the plate with deserts. I wanted to seal everything.
I went on my knees and asked her, “will you marry me?” Surprisingly, she said no and this was in the presence of several diners. After a while, she said yes. I remained on my knees and thanked God.

Did she take the ring?
Yes, she did take it but I realised she did not like it even though it was an expensive one.
And then?
After the hotel, we went to her uncle and prayed for success in our marriage that our relationship was protected from any external envious reactions. We started serious planning and contacting people we thought could help us.

How prepared were you financially?
The fact is I had planned for everything earlier, because I had saved for our honeymoon way back when we were still dating.

What were your parents’ reaction when you introduced her?
My relatives were very receptive towards her. They told me you have brought us a Muzungu and the next thing was to help in organising the wedding.

As a celebrity, how do you deal with advances from other girls?
It is hard but always you go back to the reason why you fell in love with your wife. Because every day, you get someone who tells you why don’t you marry me? Sometimes, people on social media will accuse you of ignoring their messages. I know my roots and stick to them.

What do you dislike about your spouse?
Manuela is too independent and sometimes she really challenges me.

What makes her different from the others?
Her independence and intelligence.

What has been the hardest and easiest thing in your marriage?
Having to always ask for permission. When you are single, you can do just about anything, which is not the case in marriage.
The easiest has been the fact that Manuela believes I am superman and that makes me go to heights. Because she sometimes tasks me to explain the decisions I make to make me a better man.

Her story
How did you meet Brian?
I met him on a trip to Nairobi, Kenya. We were going for a ministry drama trip, though I was not even part of the drama team. My friends interested me in travelling because we were going to part with only Shs50,000.

How did you feel when he approached you?
On first sight, I was like this is crap. But somehow, I knew I would end up with him.

How did you know that?
Initially, we casually met but never talked seriously. But when he approached me, he made me laugh and he still does. I love his eyes because when he looks at me, I feel beautiful.

But you said he was crap?
The reason I said crap is because the way he dressed was more less than that of a street boy. His button shirts were untied; the chest was out, the bottom stomach was out, the trouser legs were folded up to the knees, so he looked a complete crap to anyone who cared.

How did you realise he was serious after all?
The fact that he did not speak to me in English and later I realised he had used it as a bait. But again, I could not accept his proposal, but five years later, I said yes.

Why did you let him chase after you for that long?
Like I said, I knew I was going to get married to him but not at that particular time. I needed time to get everything right.

What is it that hooked you to Brian?
I realised we had a lot in common. He is not pretentious and that is the kind of person I am. So his character drew me close to him.

Did it bother you that he never gave up?
It was quite annoying, but sometimes, I was like wow, I’m the one on his mind and I felt the world was on my shoulders.

Were you dating someone during that time?
There were three guys pursuing me, each of them seemed serious. I woke up one morning and decided to take a rest at my aunt’s place in Jinja.

Is that how you realised Brian was the one?
First, I was surprised that it was him at my aunt’s doorstep. I knew this was a milestone for him. It was also confirmation from God that this was the man for me.

Is it true that he actually cried to win you over?
Yes he did. I saw him vulnerable. And I believe there’s something attractive about a man who can cry in front of a woman.
What did you like most about him?
Brian loves God. He is that kind of person who knows what his limits are. The other aspect is he is hard working. He is also outgoing and respects everyone.

How do you juggle marriage and work?
We had to make conscious decisions not only with the baby only but also we take some time off together. We have a weekly schedule that is divided equally between the week days.

What has been the hardest and easiest aspect in your marriage?
It has been the difference in character. But we are slowly learning how to deal with it to avoid conflicts.
The easiest is Brian’s love, because of that, he has made marriage very enjoyable. He uses every opportunity to make me happy.
Have you had trying moments in your marriage?
Of course there will always be a time when you do not even want to look at each other.

How do you handle such times?
Even if you have quarrelled, you can send a Facebook message because at the end of the day, you are married and partners apologise to each other.

How did your parents react when you introduced him?
My mum asked; who do you want to marry, is he born-again, have you prayed about it, have you asked for confirmation from about three people. When I assented to all the questions, she told me; let me wait for a confirmation from God.

And after getting the confirmation?
She later asked me to take Brian home, and she asked him a million questions, to the point that I felt sorry for him. But he answered her to the best of his abilities and well, here we are.
How did you raise money for your wedding
My parents being Bahima, we have what we call okuhingira, where the bride’s family help the newlywed couple financially and actually they contributed greatly to our marriage and we appreciate their support.

How do you handle a celebrity husband?
It’s all about understanding each other, because at the end of it, there are so many beautiful girls out there and so many handsome boys out there, but then you reflect on why you got married and life goes on.

In total, how long did you date before getting married?
We dated for more than eight years, five while he was benching me and one year of serious preparation and counselling for the institution of marriage and two years of wedding preparations.

What makes Brian unique?
It is mutuality like he said, he often does things I would not expect him to do at his age, which is cool.

words of wisdom

Advise to those starting to date
Brian: As someone who works with the church, I have realised that men need to declare their intentions to the girls they are interested in.

What would be your word to young couples still dating?
Brian: Young people make sure you get prepared for marriage and get some counselling about marriage. Marriage is a big institution and if you are not prepared spiritually and mentally, you will break up in just six months.
Manuela: You realise after you get married that is when some problems surface, but how you handle them, depends on how prepared you are.

If you could give newlyweds advice, what would it be?
Brian: Men should understand that marriage doesn’t translate into assured sex. You must prove to her that you really deserve for her to give you her body.
Manuela: If couples can realise that men have sex to get connected and yet women need to be connected to have sex then families would be happy all the time.

Men need to understand that they are partners. If she is doing something in the kitchen then you can help her clean up the dinning or bathe the children than leaving her to do everything yet you will need her in bedroom.

What effect has your child brought to your marriage?
Brian: He has actually played a big role because sometimes you even stop thinking about yourself and think of the child at home. How you will get to him and each of us has a schedule so that we can care for the child, he has really brought us together.
Manuela: Our baby is more of bonding factor every time we are apart. Everyone will always want to come back home to check on him and I like that.

What do you feel makes a successful marriage?
Brian: Mutual understanding and the rest will set the ground floor.
Manuela: It is supporting each other where it calls for. Brian has really been helpful and I am appreciative of his support right from the labour to currently when he helps me pick up the baby in his room when he is crying.

How do you keep your romance alive?
Brian: It is all about that day out just for you two with anything to interact and enjoy light moments you two only.
Manuela: It is having a day for you two only to hang out and Brian know I like roof tops of Kampala buildings, so he takes me to one of them and it is just fun for the two of us.

What strengths does each of you bring to your relationship?
Brian: Manuela is a fast decision maker and one of the spouses needs to be like that.
Manuela: Brian bring life to the marriage. It’s like he has a joke right from his pocket and with my character, that keeps me going even when things get tough.