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A friend had warned Patience against falling in love with Keith whom he said was too masculine and a bully back in the day. This would have scared anyone but Patience did not want to listen to rumours. In Keith she has found a gentle, funny and loving man and five years later, she is glad she did not listen to naysayers.
Had Patience Amanya judged a book by its cover, or even paid attention to what people were saying, she would have missed out on the love of her life. She describes her husband Keith Mbanawe as a natural comedian that lights up the room everywhere he goes.
“Many thought a relationship between us would never work. Many said our marriage would not last since to them, he was too stern to be gentle,” recalls Patience Amanya, a 33 year old Computer Science lecturer.
At 14 years of age, Mbanawe, now a fitness coach and Founder of Alpha Fitness club in Mbarara City in western Uganda, was introduced to hard core fitness drills that made him appear masculine. In Secondary School and at university, he played rugby which only increased his masculinity.
“I remember one of his OBs, a workmate at Bweranyangi Girls School, saying: “You are such a humble and down to earth woman. How can you fall in love with such a person who was even a bully in school?
This definitely freaked me out given that I did not know him before we started dating and kept me on the lookout for any signs of violence so that I could run for dear life,” Amanya says.
Patricia, Mbanawe’s sister, knew that her brother wanted to marry a woman from his home Church despite having lived in Abu Dhabi for three years working as a business development executive.
“When I enrolled for my master’s programme, Patricia and I shared most of the classes. Along the way, we became friends. She told me one day that she believed I would be the best wife for her brother who after seeing a picture of us together ( Patricia and I) claimed to have seen me sing in the church choir a couple of years back and had asked her for my number. She gave me his number saying I had to get in touch.
A few days later, Amanya received a video call from Keith who says that from the moment she started talking, he knew without a doubt that his search for a wife was over.
They kept in touch and later, he came back home to meet her in person. He flew back to Abu Dhabi after making a commitment to keep in touch and develop their relationship.
“It was magical when we met. He was such a gentleman. He is one of most natural comedians the world will never know. God made this man for me. It is as though he knew I needed a lot of happiness in my life,” says Amanya.
Mbanawe popped the question in one of the video calls and Amanya said yes. The two began planning so that when he returned for his next vacation break in August 2017, they would go ahead with their traditional wedding and then a church wedding the following year.
“One day, while telling Mbanawe’s mother about our plans, she asked why we were delaying. Having been in the events planning field, she offered to provide cake services, decorations and some other necessities for both functions,” says.
The few people she told about this were positive which gave her the courage to go ahead and organise. Mbanawe was also very helpful. When time came for him to return, she spent the night at her best friend Priscilla Abwooli’s place so that the next day, they would drive together to the airport.
“In the morning, Abwooli and her sisters helped me get ready. They picked an elegant dress claiming I needed to look beautiful. They did my makeup and styled my hair,” Amanya says.
Mbanawe’s friend Sammy drove her to Entebbe International Airport and they reached with 30 minutes to spare.
“I would give updates of where he had reached and told Sammy where to find him. To my utter shock, on reaching our final destination, there was my friend Abwooli who I had left in Kampala still in her night gown, my matron Diane Kwistya who as far as I knew was in Bushenyi, and my love on his knees with a ring in his hands. They each held a placard reading, “will you marry me?” narrates Amanya.
“I felt like the world was spinning so fast. I thought that perhaps, I was dreaming. All this time, our song, Fall for you by American singer Shanice, kept playing. I then noticed that everyone had stopped moving and many were recording this moment,” Amanya says.
“There has never been any moment better than that day. Looking at that amazingly confused, ecstatic, surprised face of the love of my life makes August 10, 2017, a very special day for us. She could never have ever been any more beautiful,” says Mbanawe.
After a long wait while on his knees, Mbanawe got his ‘Ýes’. Since then, the two have had an amazing relationship despite differences in character. Whereas Amanya is the humble and laid back type, Mbanawe is the hyper proactive type.
“I am glad my love has proven to be jolly and friendly contrary to what I had been told,” she says.
Amanya introduced Mbanawe to her family at Penpal Gardens in Mbarara on August 25, 2017. The Mbanawe’s were pronounced husband and wife at Holy Spirit Fire Church, Mbarara on August 26, 2017.
“Living far apart after two years of our marriage was a big challenge. Keith had to travel to the Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to work as a logistics assistant. Long distance can be too much of a load for any couple to carry. There were times we both needed emotional support from each other, especially when my mother died,” says Amanya.
Mbanawe had to resign his job and come back to settle in Uganda.
“We have had to deal with waiting upon God for many things, especially the fruit of the womb for the last five years of our marriage. Patience is one of the hardest virtues that one has to maintain as a couple. There are times we feel life is being too slow but our strength is that we have come to learn to trust in God’s timing,” Mbanawe says.