Our love is stronger, 59 years of marriage later

Rev Keith Katakanya with his wife Margaret Katakanya have been married for 59 years. Photo Courtesy

What you need to know:

Rev Keith Katakanya and his wife Margaret have been married for 59 years. However, the gap created by their children becoming independent and leaving home has been filled with so much love that they are now inseparable. They share their story with Perez Rumanzi, in the hope that the young can pick a leaf

On April 20, 1963, Rev. Canon Keith Katakanya and his wife Margaret Katahwa Katakaya vowed to only be separated by death.

59 years later, their love for each other has only grown stronger. The former priest and his wife live in Omur’eibiri Central Division in Ntungamo Municipality.

Throughout their marriage, the only time they have lived apart is when Rev. Katakanya travelled abroad for two years to study.

Serving the church from 1957 when he was inaugurated as a catechist from Buwalasi, Mbale, Rev. Katakanya grew through the ranks of the church retiring as an archdeacon of the Church of Uganda, heading Kyamate Archdeaconry (Now Deanery of the South Ankole Diocese) in 1991.

Together with his wife, they moved from church to church on transfer, that while they had everything they needed, they had little property of their own.

“Although we did not have much, we vowed that our children must go to school. To God’s Glory, all our children are now graduates.” Rev. Katakanya, now 91-years-old, says, adding that 59 years of marriage has not been a walk in the park.

“Sometimes we would not have something to eat but we held onto each other believing that we will get through it as long as we stayed together. We have failed at many things and believe we would have done better but I still believe that together and with God’s help, we have made it work,” Rev. Katakanya says.


Following their marriage in 1963, the Katakanyas had their first child in 1964, then the second in 1965. The third came a year later while the fourth was born in 1967.

He was then sent for further studies by the Church of Uganda to Oakhill Theological College in the United Kingdom for two years.

“When I returned, I was posted to serve as the chaplain of Kitunga High School and because of this, we delayed to expand our family. However, God blessed us with two more children, the fifth coming in 1972, and sixth in 1982. The separation was very hard for me and because I did not want to be away from my wife again, I retired five years early,” he says.

Ms Katakanya, who is 10 years younger than her husband speaks fondly of the time they have spent together.

“I am glad God has given us many years together and is still blessing us with more years to love each other. Unfortunately, since all our children have now left home, most of our conversations are about our death and where each wants to be buried,” Ms Katakanya, who is also a lay Canon of the Church of Uganda, says.

Paul Katakanya, their youngest child, takes care of the two being the only child who stays near them. He describes their still being together and loving each other as a blessing.

“I have never heard either of them complain about the other. I have learnt a lot from them and try as much as possible to emulate these lessons in my own marriage and hopefully, mine will also last as long,” Paul says.

About Rev Katakanya

Born on February 14, 1931 to the late Samson and Leah Mbasa of Karagwe Itojo, Rev. Canon Katakanya is a cousin to the late former First Deputy Prime Minister Eriya Kategaya. He started his primary education in 1944 finishing in 1952. He joined Kako Junior Secondary School in 1955 for two years after which he enrolled for a catechist course in Buwalasi College, Mbale, in 1957.

After passing his junior education, he was called for a medical course which he declined, instead opting to become a reverend, which he says had always been his dream.

After a year of training, he was posted to Kinoni in Rwampara as a catechist and later to Ruharo in Mbarara City where he enrolled for an ordination course. He was ordained Reverend in 1962 and posted to Bunyaruguru, (current day Rubirizi District).

He was the first ordained priest of the All Saints Church in Mbarara in 1965. He was later transferred to serve in different capacities, including as student chaplain at Mbarara High School. He also served as the diocesan secretary of Ankole diocese from 1975 to 1980 before being posted to serve as Archdeacon of Kyamate in Ntungamo District where he remained until his retirement.

Even after retirement, he served on different boards and commissions of local governments as chairperson, District Public Accounts Committee; District Service Commission, District Land Board, Ntungamo District Chairperson of Schools Board, and at several health centres, among others.

“When we retired, we had not invested much in bettering our lives. So life was a bit hard after leaving the church that had taken care of all our needs,” he says.

Fortunately, they had bought the land on which they built their house at Shs1,000 in the 1970s.

“Although my wife and I started building from scratch, the different appointments helped me get some allowances that enabled me take care of the family and establish a home after retirement,” he says.


Ms Katakanya says it is unfortunate that nowadays, couples only consider property and riches as the main factors that will sustain a marriage forgetting the heart of the family - children and love.

“Today, our marriage would not have survived. Imagine leaving a house that has everything and moving into your own that is not even cemented? However, knowing that family and love are the key, we have worked hard and are still working so that we leave a legacy and many properties for our children,” she says.

Daily routine

The couple have since finished building their house and established a farm with at least five cows, several goats and sheep as well as a banana plantation, among other projects. It is from these that they earn an income.

They wake up at 5:30am to pray after which Rev. Katakanya goes to supervise the milking process as well as other projects. He does this up to 10am and then goes back to bed for about three hours. The wife on the other hand prepares breakfast, which they share with their workers and sometimes, their son Paul.

Sometimes as you walk by their house, you will hear a voice calling out: “beitu mwami kawagwa okwe toyija okagira akiwarya (my dear husband you must be tired, why don’t you come and eat something).”

Often times, he will oblige.

In the afternoon, Rev Katakanya goes to Ntungamo Town centre where he bonds with friends, reads a newspaper and then returns home. At 6pm, he exercises, takes dinner at 7:30pm and together with his wife, they retire to bed at 8:30pm.

The two say they have never tasted alcohol.


Bishop Nathan Ahimbisibwe, the South Ankole Diocese Bishop, describes the couple as the pride of the church.

“They are a symbol of love and salvation. We believe young people who have the intention of starting a home and family have a lot to learn from their love. They are true servants of God and have served with dedication,” Bishop Ahimbisibwe says.


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