Last Saturday June 25, a wedding was stopped at the last minute. A court injunction signed by Roy Byaruhanga, the High Court Deputy Registrar (crime), blocked the marriage of Juliet Namazzi and Ivan Serunkuma for two weeks until court rules on their case.
Namazzi, 28, an agriculturalist and Serunkuma, a doctor, were set to walk down the aisle at St Francis Chapel, Makerere University.
The injunction was applied for by the brideâ€™s father, Bruno Kiwuwa, a retired civil servant, who claimed Namazzi and Serunkuma belonged to the Ndiga (sheep) clan and according to Ganda customs, could not get married.
However, Nnalongo Ndagire Binaisa, Namazziâ€™s mother, had confessed to Kiwuwa Namazzi was not Kiwuwaâ€™s daughter.
According to Namazziâ€™s brother, Kiwuwa was â€˜hitting backâ€™ by stopping the wedding.
In his application, Kiwuwa said Namazzi is a product of his relationship with Nnalongo Ndagire whom he met in 1976 at Ntawo District Farm Institute in Mukono where she was an assistant agricultural officer. Namazzi was born on April 7, 1977.
He said problems began when Namazzi, a born-again Christian, told him she had got a vision from Jesus that he was not her father and, therefore, did not belong to his clan. But according to namazziâ€™s brother, it was their mother Nnalongo Ndagire who informed Kiwuwa that Namazzi was not his daughter.
â€œThere was a fracas. One of our sisters, was so bitter that she threatened to stop the wedding. She kept making threats at Juliet and Ivanâ€™s wedding meetings. She also kept sending messages to Julie, warning her about the wedding.â€
The brother insists his motherâ€™s revelation was not meant to abet the alleged same-clan marriage. â€œMom had told Julie that Kiwuwa was not her biological father in 2002 when Julie was completing her first degree,â€ he says.
In one of the meetings held by Kiwuwaâ€™s clan to discuss the revelation, Namazzi was asked what her clan was and she said it was the clan of Jesus.
However, Wycliff Birungi, Kiwuwaâ€™s lawyer, refutes these claims. â€œIt was about two weeks before the incident that Kiwuwa received a text message from Namazzi and her mother telling him they had got a vision from Christ that Kiwuwa was not her father,â€ Birungi says.
He claims the first formal notification that Nnalongo Ndagire made about her daughterâ€™s true father was in an affidavit she submitted the same day court blocked the marriage. She says the real father was a Mutoro, Akiiki, with whom she had lost contact.â€
Birungi questions the timing. â€œWhy would she wait for a time of contention to make this known to Kiwuwa?â€
Nnalongo Ndagire, Namazzi and Serunkuma refused to talk to this reporter.
â€œEven if Kiwuwa is not Namazziâ€™s biological father, he brought her up. He is her father and deserves better than being dismissed at the last minute,â€ says Birungi.
In his application, Kiwuwa described Namazziâ€™s intended marriage to Serunkuma as â€œunlawfulâ€. Although the Customary Marriage Act nullifies â€œa marriage prohibited by the custom of one of the parties to the marriage,â€ Section 34 (1) of the Marriage Act of Uganda (2000) only nullifies marriage between kindred.
However, a legal practitioner explains, â€œItâ€™s a general principle of interpretation of law that the customs of the society in which they operate, if not repugnant, unjust or contrary to written law shall be upheld.â€ She adds that the Ganda custom of not marrying between people of the same clan is a long established practice.â€
Rev Ben Mugarura, the chaplain of St Francis Chapel, Makerere University, however, said the clan rule was not among those governing marriage between related people. He says church and customs are different things. â€œThe church canâ€™t operate in respect of customs. Some customs are evil.â€
Same clan wedding blocked: The Inside story