You would think they are putting up a show for their man. But Amina Nakkazi and Amina Elias chose to continue living together, even after the death of their husband.
By Shamim Saad
You would think they are putting up a show for their man. But Amina Nakkazi and Amina Elias chose to continue living together, even after the death of their husband. At their home in Naguru, they cook together and share almost everything.
Nakkazi, 68, says getting a co-wife did not bother her.
She says her husband met her co-wife, Amina Elias, in 1984, when they were in exile in Kenya. They fled to Kenya during the 1979 war that ousted former president Idi Amin.
“I suspected that my husband was seeing another woman, so I advised him to marry her,” she says.
According to Nakkazi, Amina was so humble and respectful and that is the reason she easily bonded with her, to the extent of asking her to move in with them.
“In Amina, I found a kind and loving sister. She is respectful, hard working and helped me raise my children,” she adds.
How she met her husband
Nakkazi met her husband, Adam Elias, at Kalinabiri Secondary School in Ntinda. She was in Senior One, while Adam was in Senior Three when they fell in love. Nakkazi was 15 years old at the time, while Adam was 18.
Nakkazi lived with her father in Makindye, who was a doctor at Kyambogo Technical Hospital. During the week, she says, her father lived in Kyambogo and would return home over the weekend.
Soon, Nakkazi conceived and this enraged her father. But instead of locking up Adam, their families agreed that he takes her on as his wife. With the support of his parents, Adam arranged a simple Muslim wedding (Nikah) and the two started living together.
He completed secondary school and later joined Nsamizi Training School in Mpigi.
She says Adam worked part-time at his father’s shop in Nakasero, so he was able to take care of his family.
Nakazi gave birth to their first-born in 1962 and went on to have seven more children in the subsequent years. “I lived with my husband for 42 years, until his death in 2004. Although we encountered many difficulties, I never thought of leaving him,” she says.
Life after husband’s death
Life became gloomy after Adam’s death, but his two wives decided to stick together.
Nakkazi says they did not think of separating because they had become like sisters.
Amina and Nakazzi with their husband and grandchildren. They forged a bond so strong that they lived together like sisters.
“There was no reason for Amina to return to Kenya, where she had not been for two decades. Uganda had become her home.”
Luckily, their husband left behind rental houses, where the women get a monthly income.
“Each one of us got a share of the houses and we both contribute to the home. My children also gives us a hand once in a while,” she says.
Nakkazi also makes samosas and chapatis at home, which she sells to supplement her income.
The loving, caring Amina
According to Nakkazi, Amina has played a central role in the family since the death of their husband.
“She is so caring and I always miss her when she is away. When any of my children is hospitalised, she takes care of them, as I stay behind to look after the home,” Nakkazi says.
Nakkazi says she hardly cooks at home because Amina has a passion for cooking.
“She is a good cook and knows what everyone in the house loves. We all enjoy her meals. She is also a strong woman, who does most of the house chores happily,” says Nakkazi.
She says the reason they have been able to live in harmony with her co-wife, even after their husband’s death, is the respect they have for each other.
“I do not care what other people say. I live with her and I know her very well. She is warm to everyone. We love to be around her.”
Advice to other women
According to Nakkazi, not every co-wife is bad. One’s behaviour largely depends on one’s personality and upbringing. It is good to leave some room for doubt, rather than outrightly concluding that someone is bad.
“Amina is special. When she came to my home, she knew her position, since she was the second wife. She has never confronted me about anything. In case of any misunderstandings, we sit and talk it over.”
She urges women with co-wives to respect themselves, their co-wives and husbands. “If you respect yourself, others will also respect you. Fighting usually does not help,” Nakkazi warns.
Twins or sisters?
During their free time, Amina and Nakkazi are always chatting at their home and on big days like Idd, they celebrate together. To any outsider, these are real sisters, not co-wives. Actually, many residents of Naguru call them twins.
Adam’s second wife, Amina Elias, 62, says she met her husband in Nairobi and they dated for some time before marrying. At the time, Amina had four children from her previous marriage.
She says she took time to accept Adam because she knew he was a married man. However, the course of events that followed led her to accept his proposal.
The two women shared almost everything. A home, a husband and even meals.
Amina says as she was boarding a bus in Nairobi one day, an unidentified woman attacked her, accusing her of snatching her man.
“I realised there was someone threatening our relationship and I resolved to take it to another level,” she narrated.
Consequently, they organised a Muslim wedding on November 1, 1985. After the wedding, Amina lived in Kenya, while her husband returned to Uganda and joined Tito Okello Lutwa’s army, but continued visiting her.
During the war, Adam was shot and he fled to Sudan, where he was hospitalised.
“He sent me a letter, asking for some money for treatment,” she says.
At first, Amina says she hesitated, but when she discussed the issue with her aunt, she advised her to help him, saying there was a reason why he had asked her.
Amina says she started sending Adam money through a friend on a Sudan plane. “I used to get feedback from my husband’s friend about his condition. He later sent me a message, thanking me and promised to come back one day,” Amina says.
She says they lost contact for some time, but after a few months, she received a call from him, saying he had returned to Uganda and was planning to visit her in Nairobi. But before Adam could fulfil his promise, calamity struck.
“I received a call from my co-wife, informing me that our husband was involved in a bomb blast in Bombo. I rushed to Uganda to take care of him.
However, I returned to Kenya as soon as he was discharged from hospital.”
Love and care
Shortly after, another call came from Nakkazi, this time informing her that Adam had lost one of his daughters. Amina travelled back to Uganda for burial and while here, her co-wife fell seriously sick and she stayed behind to take care of her and her children.
She took on Nakkazi’s responsibilities in the home, until her co-wife got well. But the love and care she exhibited to the family during this time, brought her closer to her husband and co-wife.
“The two convinced me to stay,” Amina says.
Although Amina did not have any child with Adam, she has never thought of leaving, even after his death. “We treat each other like sisters and my co-wife’s children treat me like their mother.”
Amina seldom visits her children and relatives in Kenya. She says Uganda is her home. Her wish is to be buried next to her husband and co-wife.
So, ladies, would you share a house with your co-wife? And, gentlemen, would you dare keep two wives under the same roof?
In my co-wife, I found a true sister