He proposed four days after first meeting her

What you need to know:

  • At last. James and Gemma are two lover birds who met on July 31, 2022 at a friend’s introduction party in Namakwekwe,  Mbale city. Little did they know that they will one day be husband and wife. They share their magical love story with Olivier Mukaaya.

“A friend of mine had requested me to come to Uganda to be part of her wedding party,” Gemma Bevington says. 

Having been on  holiday and wondering about where to spend it, she decided to come to Africa to attend the wedding in Mbale, eastern Uganda.

“That was my first time in Africa but I never thought that I would meet someone whom I was going to call my husband here,” she says.

James Mafabi was one of the service providers offering photography and videography.

 “ I was invited to do video and photography at the same function but never had it in mind that I was going to come across this beautiful lady who is now my wife. I remember I entered a room full of ladies fixing their hair.  Immediately my eyes spotted her,  in my heart something told me that, ‘that’s your wife’. Deep down I was confident that she was surely going to be my wife one day.  I was always praying to God for a white wife and indeed God did answer my prayer.”

At the point of meeting, Gemma  had been single for one year and had decided to focus on herself.

“So for all that one year I spent it preparing my heart. By then, I was also asking God to help me because I needed a husband,” she says.

“I told God that my husband was somewhere in the world, maybe looking for me. So my friends asked me to come to Africa for a break since I was working so hard.”

But before she came, her mother told her to be very careful.

“I remember her saying that I may meet a man or do silly things which would hurt me but then she added that I was a big girl,” she says,  further adding that as soon as she met James there was an instant attraction.

 “I wondered where all that feeling was coming from.  I remember him asking me , ‘do you like the function?’ and I replied ‘yes, it’s lovely’,” she says.

That is when he told her that he would marry her one day.

“I laughed about it because it seemed a joke.  But then I started thinking about him.  Later I asked my host Sarah who James (known to them as Jim Jam) was.   Then I was shown a leaked video of (Jim jam) but found myself defending him because he was  not there to defend himself,” she says.

“I thought  that no one had a right to judge him because they didn’t know  all the facts (of the video) and it wasn’t their business anyway. But deep down I asked myself why I was defending him when I barely knew him.’’

James adds that when the function was ongoing, he told his workmates that he was going to marry Gemma one day and they thought he was just joking. And so he made sure he gets close to her.

But there was some sort of miscommunication when he asked Gemma to tell her friend to allow her hang out with him. This seemed weird to her as an English lady.

The reason, he says, why he had asked for permission from her friend is because Gemma did not know him and he needed her friend’s approval being she is the only one she knew in the country.

Gemma further notes that James gave her his number behind the speaker so that no one would see.

 “I was really happy about it but somehow  we did not see each other when the function ended,” she says.

However, she sent him a message on whatsapp . Four days after meeting, he proposed to her.

Those four days, they say, were so beautiful because they used them to connect.  Gemma says she felt like she had known  James  all her life.

 ‘I fell in love with James because of his open nature, honesty and we never had any miscommunications. When it comes to life we are both so open and honest with each other and our relationship started on that basis,” she says.


Although at first Gemma’s friends did not approve of her to going out with him, James  thinks they were concerned being it was her first time in the country and he was just a stranger in their eyes. He however, says, that they did not feel like strangers.

“After meeting her at the function, we spent the evening together. We would then drive to Kampala the next day and before she flew out on the fourth day, I surprised her with a marriage proposal and she said yes,” he says.

After Gemma went back to the United Kingdom, they kept in touch and then decided on the date of their wedding .

 Wedding preparations

“We started preparing for the wedding after three months. We didn’t know it was going to be massive because my wife wanted it small - say about four people but I had to convince her to increase on the number,” he says.

They held meetings but people did not show up thinking  he was joking.

And so he decided to be the planner of their wedding since  he knew what it needs to organise one.

“We got some friends who supported us but most support came from my wife’s family.  Our wedding happened on December 16,  2022,” he says.

Like any other function, there were some challenges but he made sure everything was perfect.

Best moments

 “All the service providers we got played their part and it was so smooth,” he says.

As for Gemma ,the most memorable part was when they went for a civil ceremony and  the Chief Administrative Officer carried out the vows. 

“A pastor friend from Mbarara came to the reception and blessed our marriage so we would say we had two in one - civil and church wedding,” she says.


“Know yourself, your heart and when you know it, when the day comes you will know the right person and there will not be any doubt. But if there is doubt just know he is not the right one for you.  Also do not listen to other people but listen to yourself,” says Gemma.

James on the other hand says there is a time for  everything. 

“Do things the right way.  If the woman is not yours that means she will never be yours. Be focused, patient and know what you want but also wait patiently for God will bring you your soulmate,” he says.

Quick notes
Date: December 16th, 2022
Groon: James Mafabi
Bride: Gemma Bevington
Celebrant/civil officer
Pastor Muramuzi Jonald and Deputy CAO Mbale district, Antony Wanzala

Venue: Forest Gardens in Mbale City
Guests: 100
Budget: Shs40 million


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