Reunited by the lockdown

Eugene and Susan Ddamulira. Photo/Courtesy.

What you need to know:

  • Against the tide. Eugene Ddamulira and  Susan Kiabo first met in 2013.
  • Despite their challenges, the lockdown was a blessing in disguise that saw the duo seal their marriage on January 20, 2023

Eugene Ddamlira had gone to visit his brother who was doing teaching practice at Mulago School of Nursing when he saw Susan Kiabo in February 2013. 
“When I saw her, I was stunned by her beauty and I asked my brother –who was her teacher— if he had some information about her. He told me that she was strict but I could try my luck,” Eugene recalls.
That evening, when she was going on duty, Eugene stopped her as if to make an inquiry, but instead wanted to start a conversation and Susan hurried away.

Getting in touch
Eugene then tasked his brother to get her phone contact and after six weeks, he got it.
“It took me some time to give Eugene’s brother my phone number because they were not straightforward. He told me there was something academic he wanted to ask me. That felt weird because I knew he would answer most of the academic questions since he was our tutor,” Susan remarks.

When they finally got talking, Eugene learnt that she was a bookworm he did not know where to start their conversation. He asked if they would be friends. Since he was working out of town at the time, he asked that they meet on weekends but this was impossible until after three months because Susan said she was busy studying or on duty.
“At some point I wanted to give up on her but when she finally agreed for us to meet, I became optimistic. Our conversations were strictly friendship-based and along the way, we started bonding. I got to know her better. She is eloquent, smart and beautiful. She would make a good mother,” he recalls.

The two continued with their chats until on October 24, 2013 on Susan’s birthday when Eugene organised a surprise birthday party at Seascallop (current Levels Bar). There, he made mention of his intentions, she agreed and they started dating. 
Susan was not sure about dating him because he was already working. She tagged friends along whenever she met with Eugene and they approved of him.

The proposal
Forget about the bended knee, for Susan and Eugene it was different. In 2015, Susan was in third year and conceived but they were not staying together.
“I was so frustrated. I had not completed school, my parents are strict and I was not ready to become a mother. So, I called to inform him that I was pregnant but was planning to abort,” she recounts.
“He threatened to end the relationship if I aborted our baby. I then called my older sister and she kind of judged me, but advised me not to abort. She promised to tell our parents on my behalf.”
Susan’s parents were upset and disappointed in her because she is the last born. They thought Eugene would run away so they made him sign an agreement that he was going to look after the baby and pay all the hospital bills.

“Because of my love for her, I signed the agreement but she went to stay with her grandmother in Busega,” he says.
For a long time, Susan hid her pregnancy until she was sitting her final exams she completed in May 2015 and in November the same year, they did kukyaala  then she had a child.

Marriage plans
The couple then did not have any plans of getting married because Susan’s parents thought it was a mistake. They gave her time to rethink her life to make an informed decision. The duo were of different faiths and had not figured out what to do.
In 2018, Susan went to work in Kenya like the rest of her siblings and Eugene thought it was the end of their relationship. Even then Susan’s sisters were all married in Kenya so she would probably follow suit.
“But we kept in touch with a child as our binding factor. He would come to see me and this really made me feel so special. I realised that I would not find a man who would love me the same way Eugene did,” Susan recalls.

Eugene and Susan exchange vows at St Naoh Sserwanga Church of Uganda, Wampewo. PHOTO/COURTESY

On March 10, 2020, she had temporarily visited Uganda but the borders were locked down and she stayed. For about six months, she was locked up with him. Although she was on contraceptives, she conceived.
For Eugene, the pandemic was a blessing in disguise because he was locked up with a person he had always longed to have beside him.
“I had to settle and from this time, we had to plan for our introduction. I compromised my religion and converted for him. After giving birth, we held the introduction on October 28, 2021 and then planned for the wedding,” she recalls.

The couple had planned an intimate function that would involve family members but friends offered to contribute and each person contributed Shs50,000 for their own meal.
The couple had an organising committee consisting of close family members in order to minimise costs. The couple looked for the wedding gown and changing dress which cost them Shs1.5m and Shs500,000 respectively.  

Susan bought her make-up kit and paid Shs700,000 for the make-up artist and hairstylist. Their friends offered cars so they had a dead budget for transport.
Food was the most expensive item (Shs12.5m) and the hotel which was their reception venue gave them a discount plus a free venue. They only needed décor which at Shs1.5m.
Their white 10-tier cake cost Shs2m and each tier was a different flavour. The bridesmaids and groomsmen took care of their expenses.

What is marriage?
The couple believes marriage is a good thing and they feel home after cohabiting for a long time. 
“I am now more respected. I used to feel like a thief until I legalised my marriage. Now I proudly sit on the table of men, and say I am married,” says Eugene.

For Susan, “It feels different even after cohabiting for long. I feel more responsible because I am officially taken. I know there are people that look up to me with pride and as their role model.”
About converting, Susan remarks that it took her some time to get used to church members and that she still feels strange going to church on Sunday since she was Seventh-Day Adventist. “I sometimes go to my church, but I did not compromise on eating or cooking pork and taking alcohol,” she says.

Groom: Eugene Ddamulira
Bride: Susan Kiabo
Chuch: St Noah Sserwanga Church of Uganda, Wampewo
Officiant: Rev Juliet Ssekamatte
Reception: Emerald Hotel
Budget: Shs 25m
Guests: 250
Colour theme: Peach and white