Henry Luyima 83, and his wife Jane Francis, 80, have been married for 60 years. Their marriage survived several challenges, including extra-martial affairs. On March 2, the couple celebrated 60 years in marriage at their home in Mugalu zone, Mpererwe. Samuel Lutwama relays their love story.
Henry was born in Kiziba, Masulita sub-country in Wakiso district in 1930. He was raised by his grandparents, whom he says influenced his life. “I am what I am because of them. They loved and cared for us like their own children. Sadly, they are all gone,’’ he says.
“Like other families at the time, our main source of income was sale of agricultural produce,” he said. Luyima started his education at the age of 11, after attaining basic religious education. “It was mandatory for all children of my age to first take Holy Communion before enrolling for primary education,” he explains.
In 1941, he joined Mpigi Primary School, currently St. Kizito Primary School. He then went to the School of Hygiene in Mbale, where he qualified as a health inspector in 1967. In 1952, he met Jane, who later became his wife. Jane She speaks with astonishing clarity on what might have transpired on her birthday 80 years ago.
“I was born on August 13, 1933 at Mengo Hospital. My birth certificate shows that Sir Albert Cook delivered me,” says Jane, with a hearty smile. Unlike Henry, Jane did not attend school because during that time, most parents were not keen on educating their daughters. Like other girls, she stayed home and helped her mother with house work.
HOW THEY MET
Henry met Jane when she was 19. He was working in Bombo. She had gone to visit her aunt who lived near Henry’s workplace. Jane says her father, who was a borehole driller in the area, knew Henry as a well-behaved young man. “The first time I saw her, I was smitten and within a short time, I had made up mind to spend the rest my life with her,” Henry recalls.
However, for Jane, it was not love at the first sight. “To be honest with you, he was not appealing. I suspected he was a Nubian because of his skin complexion. He also spoke the language fluently.” So, when he told her that he wanted to marry her, she did not take him seriously. “At that time, I was not interested in marriage,” says Jane. They continued seeing each other whenever she visited her aunt and Henry kept echoing his feelings for her through love letters. Subsequently, she started developing feelings for him until he won over her heart.
But before their wedding day, Jane, who was from a staunch Anglican family becoame a Catholic. She went through the mandatory training to become a Catholic and by the time they wedded at Namilyango Catholic Church on February 14, 1953, she was on the same page with her husband in matters of faith.
True to their vows, Henry and Jane have been married for 60 years. “You should thank God when He gives you a good wife, friend and mother of your children,” says Henry. “Over the last 60 years, we have had our share of happy moments and problems, but we have been able to overcome them,” he adds.
WEDDING DAY MEMORIES
“I remember our wedding day, as vividly as if it were just yesterday,” says Jane. Then, the brother-in-law was not allowed to attend the church service or hand over the bride in church as it is today. “The church service was restricted to just a few people, but I remember my brother cried at our reception. He thought he was losing me to someone else, yet we were so close,’’ she notes.
“Our reception was attended by many people from both families. We served snacks as was the norm those days,” adds Jane. Although the couple took many pictures on their wedding day, they say they have lost all of them, apart from a big white and black photograph hanging on the wall in their living room. Although the photograph is seemingly faded with age, one can tell the couple looked so lovely.
They started their marriage in a humble way, but they were optimistic. In the same year they got married, Jane conceived. She says she almost lost her baby, but by God’s grace, she was able to deliver normally.
At the beginning of their marriage, Henry, who was the sole breadwinner, was earning sh70. “I would take home all the money and we would budget for it with my wife,” says Henry. Soon, Henry realised the need to supplement his income. “We saved money and bought land, where we planted coffee.
At that time coffee fetched a good price and from the proceeds, we were able to supplement my salary in order to take care of our children,” he says. As the couple was blessed with more children, they devised more means of survival. They acquired a sewing machine, which they used to sew clothes for their children and for sale.
“Our children were always smart in their home-made clothes, yet we were not rich by any standard,” says Henry. He advises couples to be open with each other, especially in matters of finances, saying true love is built on a foundation of trust. “From the beginning, I have been honest with my wife. I believe that everything that I own belongs to her as well,” he notes.
The couple says they faced many challenges, but the greatest of all was when Henry had an extramarital affair that bore him children. Henry, however, says, Jane remained faithful and even helped him raise his children. Jane thanks God for giving her strength to hang on. “There is nothing as disturbing as finding out that your spouse is having an extra-marital affair and the outcome of the relationship is even more devastating.
“I made vows on our wedding day, so I knew that I had to stand with my husband, despite his mistakes,’’ she adds. She urges women not to turn their back on their husbands when they make mistakes, but to win them back with love. “I often tell my daughters and other married women to brace themselves for such incidents because marriage is not always a fairy tale,” says Jane.
LOVE BIRDS AT 80
Sitting beside him, Jane pours a cup of tea for Henry, who keeps praising her. “For sixty years, I never heard that my wife was cheating on me,” he notes. “Our love has evolved over the years and I believe we are more intimate today than before. For instance, whatever goes on in her life directly affects me. Sometimes, I become so bored when she is away from home,” he adds. On what has helped them withstand the waves that almost tore their marriage apart, Jane says it is forgiveness.
“From the early years, we discovered that anger and holding onto issues can rob us of marital bliss. That has been a key to our success,’’ she says. She also says Henry was a chain smoker, but when she expressed her dislike for the habit, he stopped.
A TOWER OF STRENGTH
Right from the beginning, Jane proved to be a tower of family strength. She would advise her husband on development. “When he went back to school, I had to shoulder the responsibility of taking care of our children. He wanted me to go with him, but I refused.’’ Henry still wonders how she managed to look after their four children and operate their small family business.
Jane admits that at first it was difficult, but she was determined to rise to the occasion in the absence of her husband. With time, Jane joined women groups which equipped her with skills and knowledge that empowered her family financially. Today, as the couple celebrates 60 years in marriage, they are optimistic about what lies ahead for them, with renewed love and commitment.