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Court blocks church wedding

By Vision Reporter

Added 22nd October 2010 03:00 AM

THE venue had been booked, service providers hired and the reverend had been notified about the wedding. But, the bride’s father did not consent to the marriage.

THE venue had been booked, service providers hired and the reverend had been notified about the wedding. But, the bride’s father did not consent to the marriage.

By Edward Anyoli

THE venue had been booked, service providers hired and the reverend had been notified about the wedding. But, the bride’s father did not consent to the marriage.

Ivan Serunkuma and Juliet Namazzi were set to wed at St. Francis Chapel, Makerere University, but the High Court cancelled their wedding.

It all started in February 2006 when Namazzi allegedly sent a message to Bruno Kiwuwa saying he was not her father. She said Jesus Christ had appeared to her in a dream and told her she was a daughter of Akiiki, a Mutooro.

In May 2006, Kiwuwa also discovered that Namazzi was planning to wed Serunkuma the son of Samuel Kayigwa on June 24, 2006, yet the couple belonged to the Ndiga (sheep) clan. In Buganda, members of the same clan are not allowed to marry.

Justice Remmy Kasule who presided over the case directed that a DNA test be carried out to establish Namazzi’s biological father. The test that was done in South Africa confirmed that Kiwuwa was indeed Namazzi’s father.

However, Namazzi and Serunkuma defied Kiwuwa’s advice not to get married. The couple went ahead to organise the wedding as Kiwuwa, through Birungi and Company Advocates, secured a court order restraining the couple from taking their vows.

The High Court Deputy Registrar, Roy Byaruhanga, subsequently issued an interim order of 14 days until the final case was heard.
Kiwuwa’s attorney Wycliff Birungi said celebration of marriage under the Marriage Act may be stopped if it violated established customs.

Birungi told the court that Namazzi and Serunkuma did not hold any formal introduction ceremony and that they did not obtain Kiwuwa’s consent of before their marriage as is required in the Buganda culture and in church.

He argued that according to the customs of Buganda, one is not allowed to marry a member of the same clan because they were considered to be relatives and such marriages contravened culture and morality.

Birungi submitted that such marriage was abominable, immoral, unethical, uncustomary and illegal among the Baganda, adding that it was unacceptable among right-thinking members of society.

He asked the court to nullify the marriage because it was contrary to the law and Marriage Act.

DEFENCE
Defence lawyer Sam Ahamya submitted that the Buganda custom of marrying from the same clan could not be enforced against the couple.

Ahamya said such a custom could only be enforced against the couple if they were holding a customary marriage.

He argued that the Marriage Act does not require parental consent before marriage, except where the intended parties in the marriage are below the age of 21.

Ahamya added that the couple were above 18 and were old enough to make decisions for themselves. “Holding a formal introductory ceremony is not a prerequisite for marriage and failure to hold one does not bar marriage, but is just a sign of respect and appreciation of parents and relatives of the bride,” Ahamya added.

The defence lawyer also argued that Kiwuwa was tricked by Namazzi’s mother, Nnalongo Ndagire Binaisa, into believing that he was Namazzi’s father.

Ahamya disclosed that at a family meeting in May 2006, Ndagire said Kiwuwa was not the father of Namazzi, and he (Kiwuwa) did not object to the intended marriage.

He submitted that, it was not true that Namazzi said Christ had appeared to her in a dream, but that the revelation was made by her mother.

Ahamya argued that the marriage would merely be culturally repugnant, but not illegal because the law did not prohibit marriage between clanmates.

JUDGEMENT
In his judgEment, Justice Kasule said a custom is repugnant to justice and morality if it causes aversion and disgust to the principles of good behaviour and as to what is reasonable and fair. “When a custom is contrary to the rules of behaviour basic to human nature and is contrary to what is morally right and acceptable, then such a custom violates natural justice, equity and good conscience,” Kasule said.

He noted that it is a custom of the Baganda as a tribe that a marriage is preceded by an introduction ceremony.

“The intended marriage is illegal, null and void by reason of the custom that, being Baganda by tribe both belonging to the same clan, they cannot lawfully contract a marriage,” Kasule concluded.

Court blocks church wedding

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