In 1960, Peter Kabundama met Philomena Katonde at Kinyamasika College, Bushenyi district. Just a few months before independence, they tied the knot in what they still refer to as a memorable wedding.
Fifty years later, they took to the altar once again and renewed their vows to love and to hold, till death does them part.
How they met
Kabundama, then a youthful teacher, had just completed his studies and was posted at St. Michael's Seminary as a teacher. One day, Kabundama and a friend, who was working with the Uganda Cooperatives Society, hatched a plan to find themselves wives.
They dressed up in suits and went to Kinyamasika College, where they posed as ministry of education officials from Kampala. They told the principal of the college that they were there to meet S3 and S4 students.
Seeing how they were dressed, the principal did not hesitate to usher them into the classes. As they chatted with the students, each of them spotted someone they thought would make a good wife. They both kept in touch with the girls and would visit them at the college.
Coincidentally, in 1962, Kabundama says he was appointed senior assistant schools supervisor for Ankole Catholic schools (now about 10 districts), which enabled him to visit his dream wife, Katonde without having to pose as an inspector of schools.
Kabundama and Katonde dated for three years before they walked down the aisle on August 18, 1962. Kabundama's friend also married the girl he had selected.
Against all odds
Katonde's parents did not want her to get married immediately after college. “Her parents told me to leave their daughter.
They wanted her to go for further studies in the UK, so they told me to wait until she finished her studies,” Kabundama recalls. However, the couple says they had mutually agreed to get married, so Katonde's parents had to respect their decision.
The couple says the three years of courtship helped them to discover and appreciate each other. They realised they were compatible in many areas.
“There were many things we had in common. Right from our aspirations, values and even the food we ate,” Katonde observes.
“Given my status as a schools supervisor, I would have gone for other women, but Katonde was developmental, patient and understanding. She was also a very beautiful woman, and on top of that, she was educated. She had everything I wanted in a partner,” says Kabundama.
Fifty years later, the memories of their wedding are still fresh in their minds. Kabundama hailed from Ibanda (then in Mbarara district) while Katonde was from Ishaka town in Bushenyi district.
Kabundama and his entourage went to Bushenyi on Friday for the give-away ceremony, a day before they were wed by the late Fr. Edgar Trambley at Kitabi Parish.
“During our time, most people would wed on Wednesday. Saturday was reserved for special people, so it was a privilege to wed on Saturday,” Kabundama reminisces. The wedding took place in Bushenyi and the reception was in Ibanda.
“We travelled in a Rolls Royce and our convoy comprised 14 cars, with two lorries full of gifts, some of which we still have up to now like two beds and a side board,” Kabundama narrates.
What kept them going?
Even as they celebrate 50 years of married life, it has not been all rosy.
“Just like any other couples, we got misunderstandings. But in all this, forgiveness, patience and above all, prayer, have kept us together,” the couple observes.
They also say the three years they spent dating helped them understand each other, including their strengths and weaknesses. Kabundama also notes that during their time, some men would marry educated women and stop them from working, but he was different.
“I let my wife work and gave her the freedom to spend her money the way she wanted. We kept different accounts, but each of us had responsibilities to take care of in the family,” he says. “Learning to handle our finances also helped us maintain our marriage.”
The couple is also grateful to God that their nine children are all working and responsible people. In addition, they also helped relatives from both sides and other people, who are now important in the country.
“Some of them have returned the favour,” the couple observes.
The golden jubilee
On August 18, 2012, the couple celebrated their golden jubilee at their home in Ibanda. They renewed their vows in church. Kabundama chose the photographer at their wedding in 1962 to be his best man as the first best man had passed on.
The highlight of the day was the same choir that sang at the wedding in 1962. They were young boys and girls in P1 and P2 in 1962, but now they are in their 50s. They re-united and put up a good performance for the couple.
Tips for couples
“For young couples who want to strengthen their marriage and stay together for long, the couple advises patience, forgiveness and tolerance.
They also say that since finances sometimes bring problems in marriages, couples need to find a way of handling their money.
They also urge couples to put everything before God. For those planning to marry, they say there is no substitute for taking time to study each other and see if you are compatible.