From the first time Irene Atuhairwe and Nebat Atuhura Kasozi met at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Entebbe, it felt as if they had known each other for decades. Theirs was an easy and fast friendship. She became that confidant whom he would tell his challenges, well knowing she had his back.
“I remember becoming aware of this quiet man with a loud afro at a farewell party of our field manager. I later came to realise the man with the afro was replacing the outgoing manager,” Atuhairwe recalls.
The two started chatting at that party and a friendship began. She is a sales and reservations officer at the sanctuary while he manages the same company’s field programme in Hoima.
Working together meant they had similar experiences and shared the same challenges. They became each other’s counsellors and at the weekends, they went to events and movies together. Their lives blended seamlessly and with time, the inevitable happened. But the blooming relationship was interrupted by Atuhairwe’s trip to Disneyland in the United States of America, where she had landed an internship. Nevertheless, Atuhura kept in touch and the two were happily reunited at the end of Atuhairwe’s internship period.
“I saw something in his eyes, which was more than our usual friendship. He clearly wanted more than the friendship. He had fallen in love and for him, there was no turning back,” she shares.
Declaring his intentions
The calls and outings intensified and they started spending huge amounts of time together. One day, he asked for a special outing and they started talking about their past relationship experiences. When she confessed that she was single, he became even bolder in his attentions. “He was so excited and ready to start his love life with me,” she recollects.
Atuhura was smitten and wanted to remove the possibility of his love interest ending up with someone else. “She reminded me of my Mukiga mother in many ways, especially her background and character. Over the years, she had become my rock, she had been there all along, through thick and thin. I knew I had to commit or I would end up calling someone’s wife late at night when I was in trouble,” he explains.
They started praying and fasting together and at the weekends, they toured. “He used to escort me to Uganda Management Institute (UMI) every Saturday to attend class and kept around town to wait for my classes to end. I felt special,” she adds.
Then one day, he chopped off his Afro hair and everyone was wondering what was going on. He was in love and wanted to appear formal and presentable. On September 29, 2019, they decided to commit to each other. “I remember he used to tell me to be patient with him. He wanted to do everything the right and formal way,” she recounts. One evening, Atuhairwe invited Atuhura to dinner with her two sisters. He was glad to go.
He took two new Africa T-shirts and asked her to try out one while he wore the other. When she settled down to enjoy dinner with the rest, he went down on his knee and asked her to be his wife. “I said yes, with tears of joys rolling down my cheeks,” an elated Atuhairwe recounts.
The journey that had begun at a farewell party back in 2012, finally ended in a union of two families. The Atuhuras say their love is anchored in God, prayer, understanding and friendship. Their plan as a couple is to keep nurturing their relationship and start their family.