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My wife stood by me in all situations - Garyahandere

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The Garyahanderes at the reception. PHOTO/ROBERT MUHEREZA

When George Garyahandere and his wife Feddy Kesiime walked into Christ the King Church in Kabale Town, the congregants clapped and sang on top of their voices. The couple was celebrating 50 years in marriage on Saturday May 11. The couple renewed marriage vows in company of their seven children and grandchildren.

Suzanna Maria Kemigisha and David Rutindangyezi, their grandchildren played ceremonial maid of honour and best man roles.

The couple later treated their guests to a warm reception at Vienna Guest House Gardens in Kabale.

There, Ailen’s Decorations director, Shanice Asiimwe and her manager Janet Mukunzi had spruced up the venue in gold décor to match the golden jubilee theme.

Meanwhile, multitudes from different walks of life attended as traditional dancers gave the event a vibrant ambiance.

While giving his speech, George, 82, a retired police officer, talked about how his wife took charge of the family during his troublesome days with the Amin and Obote regimes that accused him of being a rebel collaborator.

“Respect your wives because they take charge of the family even when you have personal problems. After marrying Feddy, the then government claimed that my vehicle was transporting recruits of a rebel group. I had to leave her at home with the children and she took charge of the family,” he recounted.

He recounted surviving a deadly night attack by the government soldiers who showered his bedroom with bullets after which they declared him dead. 

“In the morning,, I sent a radio message to my supervisors informing them that I was alive, and they transferred me to Tororo District where life was not any better before posting me to Katuna border in Kabale District.”  

At my new post, the youth wing of the then government started alleging that my car was transporting rebels to Rwanda and the authorities ordered that I hand over office and report to the then Kabale District leaders and be arrested.

“I informed the then district police commander who also told me that there was a plan to have him equally arrested on allegations that he was a rebel collaborator. As we planned together to go into exile, we received a message that the NRA had captured power and that is how we survived, " he narrated.

He believes that his wife withstood this because: “I had never abused or even assaulted her and she gained confidence in me. As we celebrate 50 years of marriage, I advise you people to avoid domestic violence because your wives are a great resource in protecting you and your family members in times of peace and trouble,” he implored.

He expressed gratitude to the almighty God for using different people to save his life, his wife for keeping their marriage vows and the children for preparing the celebration.

Marriage background
George told guests that he never wanted to get married because of the bad experiences of growing up in a polygamous family characterised by domestic violence, until he got scared by the disappearance of his colleagues in the police barracks.

“When my colleagues were being arrested from the police barracks by the then government agents on claims that they were rebel collaborators, I got scared and I started looking for a wife. I felt the need to have children to leave behind if my turn came. However, I never had a girlfriend,” George said.

Wooing and marriage
One day, he left his workstation and went to his home in Kabale Town where he met a friend who was a tailor who had spotted for him Feddy Kesiime.

“I approached Feddy and she told me off that she could not get married to a policeman without disclosing her reasons. I did not give up, I deployed female relatives to woo her. When I returned for the second time she accepted to go with me for an outing at White Horse Inn, but she refused to eat or drink anything. However, she accepted the marriage proposal and we planned for an introduction ceremony,” George recounted.

He cannot forget the introduction ceremony when Feddy’s parents refused to reduce the bride price besides his plea. 

“When they insisted on it I pulled out money from my pockets and paid in cash all that they wanted, and this surprised my team. Shortly, after I wedded her and here, we are celebrating 50 years of marriage,” the retiree said.

Feddy says George proposed marriage after about 10 others.
“One day, I sat in my room and prayed to God to give me the right man. After my prayer, I saw George parking his car in the compound and this was his second time coming to our home. I got scared and asked God again, is this the right man for me? A policeman?” Feddy said adding that she mustered courage and accepted him.

‘God did it’
Feddy said her marriage has been successful because of God’s grace. She used to pray for her husband’s protection.

“I remember praying several times, asking God to save me from being a widow just because I married a policeman. God answered my prayers and here we are celebrating our Golden Jubilee. Always trust in God and your prayers will be answered,” Feddy advised.

Strict couple
While presiding over the ceremony to renew the marriage vows at Christ the King Church, the main celebrant Fr Ignatius Arineitwe assisted by Fr Marius Byamukama and Fr Erias Kasigeire they thanked God for the lives of George and Feddy besides using them to serve the country in different capacities.

They asked the children to carry on the legacy of their parents through hard work, trust in God and faithfulness.

“Feddy and George are role models to many in Uganda because they nurtured children well despite the challenges. I stayed with Feddy and George here in Kabale for some time and their strictness helped me to become a priest,” Fr Arineitwe said.

Stella Atuheire, their last born says, she has learnt to be persistent, disciplined, humble, patient, saying good things about her husband besides learning parenting tips.

While Dr Peter Musinguzi, their third born, says he has learnt to be resilient, do what is expected of parents despite the difficulties, provide for his family and above all keeping family secrets intact.

Children say…
“My parents have taught me to be patient and hard working,” Margaret Asiimwe, the first born.

“My parents define the essence of respect in marriage, loving each other and the children,” Maureen Musimenta, the second born.

“I have learnt to prioritise children’s education and promoting family values,” Andrew Mwebesa, the fourth born.

“I have never seen my parents fight or talk ill of each other,” Nicholas Mbaga, fifth born.

“I have learnt to be faithful, sacrifice to educate children and be a provider,” Timothy Namanya, sixth born.