My marriage is beyond repair, says Oulanyah

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah at his home in Muyenga, Kampala yesterday.
Photo by Faiswal Kasirye

What you need to know:

Determined. In an interview with Daily Monitor, Deputy Speaker of Parliament says he will go ahead and divorce his wife Winnie whatever the cost.

Kampala. Describing himself as “a very happy man”, deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah yesterday said his divorce petition is a result of an “irretrievable breakdown” of his marriage.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Monitor at his home in Muyenga, a Kampala City suburb, Mr Oulanyah talked of the anguish of marital bliss gone sour.

He described his first marriage with Dorothy Nangwale Oulanyah, who died in August 2009 as “paradise” and failed to find a suitable word to describe his second marriage with Lady Winnie Amoo Oulanyah, a daughter of former MP Santa Okot.
“We go to eat food in a restaurant, we quarrel not because I started it. I really tried to make the marriage work but it failed and my friends know that I tried,” Mr Oulanyah said.
He also recalled how at one time his wife Winnie asked him to wear his dead wife’s clothes he had bought from India “to satisfy his emotional problems”.

“My marriage did not work out and that’s why I went to court in July. I did not want to disparage anybody. I just wanted something that had failed to work dissolved.”
After two years and nine months of marriage, Mr Oulanyah on July 22, filed for divorce through M/S Lex Uganda Advocates and Solicitors, accusing his wife, Lady Winnie, with whom they have two children, of “causing him emotional stress”, “mistreating” his three children from the previous marriage and “denying him conjugal rights” since February.
Mr Oulanyah, who described his wife as a dissenter, said: “Marriage is for companionship; physical, social and emotional and spiritual support and if you can’t get those, you are just pretending. What is the worth of marriage if you can’t sleep at night? What will be the relevance of marriage if you cry at night?”

Asked why he rejected calls for talks as his mother-in-law alleged in a story published by a local daily yesterday, Mr Oulanyah accused Ms Okot of telling lies.
He said before filing for divorce, several meetings were held to try and resolve the issues but this failed because he “possibly got it wrong somehow”, because there was a problem of “compatibility”.

Although Ms Winnie was not available for a comment as she is in the US, when contacted last evening, her mother, Ms Santa said: “I cannot answer some of those accusations because I don’t stay in their home. My daughter should be the one to answer. It’s not true that I did nothing to resolve the issues. The fact is that when my daughter returned from the US, she explained everything to me and I took the issue traditionally but he (Oulanyah) refused to sit in the meeting. He (Oulanyah) did not call me to go to his home for the meeting neither did he come to my home for the meeting.”
“It’s my daughter who can answer those issues. But remember there is always no smoke without fire. No woman can run away from her home if there is no problem, unless she is mad,” said Ms Santa.
Mr Oulanyah said, the paramount chief of Acholi, Rwot David Onen Acana II, called him once and after he explained said there was nothing he could do.

The deputy Speaker also said none of the religious leaders called him for a meeting and insisted that he did not contact Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, who wed the couple because it was not necessary. He said the divorce petition is going to go on “whatever the cost”.
Mr Oulanyah, who admitted going through “a very stressful situation” re-counted how his present circumstances forced him to remember the good life he had had with Dorothy and said because Lady Winnie refused to live in Uganda for more than a year, he was forced to borrow money from friends to look after her and his children in the US, where she is a citizen.

Mr Oulanyah said if it was a normal situation and that if it was something he could pretend about, he would have waited for next year but “things became” too difficult for him. However, in defence of her daughter, Mr Oulanyah’s mother-in-law insists that it was him who encouraged his wife to live in the US, a claim he denies.
“For 18 months, I was paying rent $2,043 (about Shs7.477 million) per month, $400 (about Shs1.464 million) for bills and then feeding and other expenses. I was in debt and when you go to the Parliament Sacco, you will find my name there, even from Gen Elly Tumwine. This is way too much,” Mr Oulanyah said.
Advising young people, Mr Oulanyah said, “Take time, choose wisely. I did not take time. Study the family background and talk to people. These things of falling in love at the first sight don’t work. The wedding ring is the smallest handcuff, choose your prison mate properly.”
Mr Oulanyah said since he told his wife in June they need to go separate ways, he has not heard from her but all he gets from her are “bad text messages”.
Mr Oulanyah also denied claims that he had an affair. “I don’t do casual relationships, otherwise my name would be all over the place. When I had an assistant I ended up firing, they said I was sleeping with her but all those were lies,” he said.