She was his tutor for Mathematics Paper I (Pure Maths) during the holidays. And he, in turn, used to bring her up to speed with Mathematics Paper II (Mechanics) – which he loved but she found challenging.
When they sat for their respective A-Level exams in 1998, when the Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) organised two back-to-back exams in a single year, they both emerged among the country’s top performers.
For Gladys Tumusiimirwa, who completed her A-Levels at Gayaza High School, that feat brought her closer to long-time friend Jonathan Tugume, then of St. Mary’s College, Kisubi. Perhaps, she muses, it could even have ignited the romantic spark that burns to this day.
“He sat his exams and excelled, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is nice.’ I had not seen anyone so close to me get triple A. So I went to a computer and drafted this nice card to congratulate him. It was really a simple, pure card. So that’s how I think it started. Maybe then he thought this girl could also be interested in me,” she recalled.
They both eventually went to Makerere University; Jonathan to pursue a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and Gladys one in pharmacy.
At Makerere, they spent so much time together that friends began to mistake them for siblings. The two were equally inseparable during the holidays — not such a difficult thing to do anyway when you both come from the same village in Kasese District .
Ms Tumusiimirwa says while her mother was strict about boys visiting her at home, Jonathan – whose mother happened to be a family friend – could visit as and when he wished.
Then one day, Jonathan walked up to her at Makerere and laid his heart bare; he had realised he was in love and wanted them to relate. She was not moved, especially because she felt slightly awkward about dating a man she had come to regard more as a brother. So she lied to him that she was already dating.
While Jonathan openly wondered about the mysterious lover he had never seen and she had never talked about, he did not bring up the subject for at least a year.
They continued to spend more time together though, and when he eventually asked again whether she was interested, there was only one answer. “Yes”.
The romance evolved into a marriage one year after their graduation, when the two tied the knot at KPC (now Watoto Church Central) on December 18, 2004. Today, their young family has five members following the addition of Jethro Mwine, 4, Isaiah Tsiima, 2, and a four-month old girl, Ethel.
While the romance of these two academic stars is captivating in its own right, each of them has an even more fascinating career tale to tell….