Drake Lubega, one of Kampala’s richest men is desperate. He wants his wife, Benita Lubega, back in their marital home and is willing to do anything to achieve this. She, however, is not interested, because she has made up her mind to get a divorce.
She has switched off all her known phone numbers, gone into hiding and instructed her lawyer to inform Lubega that she doesn’t want to see him. She has filed for divorce in the High Court through her lawyers, M/S Sekabanj&Co. Advocates and turned down Lubega’s request to settle their marital issues out of court.
Costing the divorce
If Benita gets her way in court, Lubega stands to lose on several fronts. According to stories in Bukedde newspaper, Benita, through her lawyers, revealed that she wants custody of their four children. Not yet done, she added that she has up to 45% as shares in some of their companies, and therefore wants nine of Lubega’s 25 buildings in Kampala.
Her reasoning is that she has played a role in accumulating and growing their business empire. Lubega, however, denies this. He argues that they have never agreed on shareholding issues since they have been working together as husband and wife.
As the drama unfolds, their children are looking on, unsure of what the future holds. It is not hard to imagine how these children, aged 16, 13, 9 and 3, feel about their parents’ separation. But one thing is for sure; their lives will never be the same since this will leave a lasting impact on their lives.
Chances are, they are already blaming themselves for what is happening even when they have absolutely nothing to do with their parents’ marital problems.
Till threats do us part…
But if what Benita says is true, then their children might not be entirely ignorant about their parents’ marital problems. According to Bukedde, she alleges that Lubega has been beating her for a couple of years and cites an incident when “he beat me and injured my upper lip in the process.”
She, however, decided to hang in there until recently when she felt she had had enough. “The worst happened recently when I converted from Christianity to Islam. He was so angry that he threatened to kill me,” she said in a divorce statement.
She further alleged that on April 27 this year, Lubega returned home and lost his cool when he saw her in the sitting room. She alleges that he said: “I don’t want to hurt someone. I can cut someone and they imprison me.”
Later on April 29, she further claims, he had the nerve to threaten her during a reconciliation meeting. “Listen to what she is saying,” he reportedly said, “I can grab her and strangle her.” That, she says, was her cue to quit the marriage.
Now in hiding
She, Bukedde reported, also alleges that Lubega chased her out of their Kololo home on April 30. That night, Benita says, Lubega did not allow her to take a thing from the house. He did not even allow her to change from the nightdress she was wearing, she says it was in this state that she run to a nearby mosque for safety. She hid in this mosque for the rest of the night.
By morning, she had made up her mind not to return to her husband’s house for she had no doubt that he would hurt her if he got the chance. She has since been in hiding and has even requested for Police protection until the divorce case is disposed of.
Through her lawyers, she explained that she is living in fear for her life. She believes his threats aside, Lubega’s competitors and enemies might also harm her in a bid to have Lubega arrested as the first suspect.
Lubega and Benita’s story goes back to 1993 when they met in Kampala. Now 40, Benita started living with Lubega in 1994. They got married on December 23, 2000 at Namirembe Cathedral. Until now, no one would have guessed that their marriage was on the rocks.
Aside from the fact that they were married, the two also shared an office. They had the rare opportunity of working together to grow the vast business empire that has seen Lubega named one of the richest men in Kampala. With Benita in charge of employees’ issues as well as acting as his accountant and cashier, he has constructed 25 buildings in the city centre and started several businesses around Kampala.
THe bubble bursts
Apparently, all Benita wanted was a peaceful and violence free marriage. Unfortunately, it seems, Lubega did not understand this need despite his claims that he has always given her everything she asked for. If she asked for a holiday in the US, he says, a holiday she would get. If she said she was tired of business and wanted to go into farming, which she apparently did, he purchased land in Kyaggwe, Busiro and Bwebajja so she could satisfy her farming desires.
Although some women argue that they would rather cry in a benz than be happy on a bicycle, Benita seems to value happiness and her freedom more than wealth. This is why she is willing to sever her 18-year-old relationship with Lubega.
No divorce from Lubega
But Lubega insists that he has no intention of granting her a divorce. He argues that he has no problem with her although he does not deny the fact that his wife’s conversion to Islam shocked him to the bone. He, however, says he had decided to ignore her decision; after all, he reasoned, they have always had marital problems and solved them peacefully.
“I have tolerated many things including her decision to convert from the protestant religion to traditional religion (busamize) and later Islam,” he said in his defence submission before the High Court. As for Benita’s allegations that he chased her out of their marital home in the middle of the night, he insists that he did no such thing.
That night, he says, he returned home at 4:00am and noticed that Benita was not around. He explains that he asked the children where she was but they answered that she had left without informing them. Since then, he has been trying to call her without much luck, since her phones are off.
He alleges that he has since learnt that Benita is cheating on him with one of the members of Kwagalana Group, a Kampala based club that brings together 40 rich men. He, however, declined to name the lover although he maintains that he (the lover) is trying to use Benita to take over some of his (Lubega’s) wealth.
He, however, requested a meeting so they can sort out their marital issues. Benita has rejected his requests thrice, including a promise that he will construct for her a house. Seemingly out of options, he beseeched the members of Kwagalana Group to play arbitors, a move the Kwagalana members welcomed.
They requested her lawyer Kato Sekabanja, who doubles as the group’s lawyer, to convince Benita to have a round-table discussion with Lubega.
Whether this will end the impasse between the couple and guarantee a happy home for their children is yet to be seen.