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Mugula tips on how to handle love from a distance

By Vision Reporter

Added 6th May 2013 02:52 PM

Ronald Mugula, the reigning inter-continental pro kick-boxing champion, and his wife, Josephine Nakafero, a designer, have been together for 13 years.

Mugula tips on how to handle love from a distance

Ronald Mugula, the reigning inter-continental pro kick-boxing champion, and his wife, Josephine Nakafero, a designer, have been together for 13 years.

 From Germany to Zzana: Mugula’s love flows like his kicks

 
Ronald Mugula, the reigning inter-continental pro kick-boxing champion, and his wife, Josephine Nakafero, a designer, have been together for 13 years.
 
Mugula lives in Germany where he pursues his career, while Josephine lives in Zzana with their two girls aged 11 and five. The couple talked to Samuel Lutwama about what has kept their long distance relationship tick
 
Their love started at Heritage Park in Entebbe in 2000. 
“We met through an old friend who knew both of us. Ronald, who had no money, bought me a simple snack and a bottle of soda. As we talked, he told me that he went to my former school; Citizen Secondary School, but later dropped out.
 
He went on to tell me about his dreams and aspirations. However, what struck me during our conversion was his dream of wanting to become a kick-boxing champion. To me, it seemed like a farfetched dream.
 
“From that time at the beach, we started pursing friendship and one thing led to another. The conception of our first daughter marked the beginning of our fairy-tale love life that has taken us 13 years,” Josephine says with a smile. 
 
However, Josephine confesses that the beginning was rough with nothing to sustain their relationship apart from love, promises and their commitment to each other.
 
Josephine says they were also ill-prepared for parenthood. The responsibility of looking after the family fell on Josephine who then had a small business as a designer. She also stayed focused on her education.
 
Background
Mugula, who grew up in a remote village of Bukolo in Luwero district, lost his parents at the age of eight.
“After the death of my parents, I was exposed to hard life where I leant all the survival instincts that proved to be helpful in kickboxing,” Mugula discloses.
 
After his parents’ death, Mugula relocated to Kampala where he joined Citizen Secondary School, but later dropped out.
After dropping out of school, Mugula became acquainted with the ghetto life where he leant marshal arts by watching films and then practising what he saw in the movies.
 
He also sold jeans in Owino Market from where he was introduced to the Kampala Boxing Club. 
“In 2001, Eddie Gombya spotted me and asked if I could be part of the trial kick-boxing exercise to select the national team for the Nairobi Kick-boxing Championships.
 
My performance was beyond his expectations and he enrolled me in the national team. That is how I earned my maiden gold medal,” he says. 
 
He went on to win four more golds in the amateur competition before going professional. He has had 60 fights with 44 wins, six defeats and 10 draws. 
 
Mugula says he will soon be retiring from his professional career.
 
Mugula’s progress
In the meantime, Mugula made steady progress in his kick-boxing career. During that time, he represented Uganda in seven European countries before he decided to purse professional kick-boxing in 2007.   
 
He says he decided to go professional after his good performance at the World Muay Thai Championships in 2007, where he was scouted by Americans who promised to invest in his career. 
 
Therefore, he did not return to Uganda with the national kick-boxing team and he opted to make his professional debut in Germany. However, his professional debut ended in disastrous defeat with a knock-out in the first round.  
 
There followed an unhappy period in Germany, forcing him to enrol at a kick-boxing training school, where he learnt lots of martial skills.
 
Not long after that, he was back on his winning streak that earned him several title belts, including the recent pro-intercontinental titles. 
 
“Fortunately, within four months, I got a work permit and later a travel permit. I was then able to send my wife money. I was also able to travel back to Uganda,” Mugula said.
 
He took a break from his career and briefly returned to Uganda. During the break, his second daughter was conceived and Josephine also went on to graduate with a university degree in designing, before Mugula returned to Germany.
Mugula credits Josephine for his success in kick-boxing.
 
“Josephine has been instrumental in everything I have achieved in kick-boxing and raising our two girls,” he speaks with reverence. 
 
Josephine also looked admiringly at her husband, saying Ronald treats her with a lot of respect. She adds that he is not a wife-beater, despite the fact that his life revolves around kick-boxing.
 
“Ronald has never raised a hand at me,” she said as Mugula added: “As a professional kick-boxer, I know how it feels once I raise my hand on someone. Therefore, from the beginning, I decided never to do so.”
 
Long distance  love
Mugula discloses that despite having to spend a lot of time away from each other, their love and affection for each other has not waned, although they have had their fair share of happy moments and challenges.  
 
“Thirteen years of being together has cemented our bond to an extent that we even look alike. In fact, some people thought we were related by blood. We would go to a club and men would make passes at her, but they would always stop after realising that we were a couple,” Mugula says. 
 
Josephine revealed that communication is the reason for the success of their long distance relationship. “Long distance relationships break up once communication breaks down.”
 
She, however, confesses that their relationship has also suffered because of rumours and gossip. 
“I hear a lot of gossip and rumours about what Ronald could be doing in Europe. However, we both agreed not to let external interferences break our relationship.”
 
Josephine advises couples in long distance relationships to learn to trust their spouses and avoid relying on information from outsiders, whose motives one can never be sure of.
 
On his part, Mugula says their commitment to each other has kept their love alive and relationship going. 
“Relationships thrive on commitment and without commitment, there is nothing that can bind two people from different backgrounds and help them wither challenges.
 
He also discloses that they always go for counselling and guidance from his elder brother and uncles whenever their relationship is threatened.
 
Parenting
The two agree that parents highly influence the way their children turn out.
Mugula says he tries to utilise whatever opportunity he gets with his children to bond and influence their lives according how he would like them to be.
 
“I love my children and when I get an opportunity to be with them I play and joke with them so that they can easily bond with me,” he explains.  
 
Mugula also hopes that one of his daughters will follow in his footsteps and become a kick-boxer.
“I have noticed talent in my second daughter. She has keen interest in what I do and is always asking her mother when my next fight is,” Mugula says.
 
Who is Josephine?
Josephine grew up in Maganjo in a family of six (three boys and three girls). 
“I had a happy childhood and we had everything we wanted until our mother passed on and life became hard,” she says.
 
She showed interest in fashion and design while still young and learnt to make a gomesi at a tender age. Her mother prophesied that she would be a fashion designer.
 
Josephine’s shop, Jose Finelines located at Zaina Textile Centre in Kampala is a fulfilment of her childhood dreams. 
 
 
Managing long distance marriages
Although they involve a lot of challenges, counselling psychologists say, long distance relationships can still work out. Below, they suggest tips on how families living apart can cope. 
 
The Rev. Denis Odoi, a  counsellor with Grace Trust, says communication is a key factor in keeping a long distance relationship alive.
 
He says for a relationship to grow, the people involved need to share whatever is going on in their lives.  
Joseph Musaalo, a counselling psychologist at Uganda Christian University in Mukono, also encourages couples staying apart to keep in touch daily through phone calls, the Internet, exchanging photos and writing letters.
 
Musaalo advises such couples to promptly return all e-mails and missed calls and to acknowledge packages.
 He also advises them to schedule online dates in addition to keeping a journal of their daily events, which they can send to each other once a week.
 
Musaalo says a couple can develop rituals such as asking the absentee parent to call with a bedtime story for the children, a good night kiss or to pray with the family. 
 
He also advises such couples to watch the same shows or read the same books so that they have something to discuss and spice up their conversations.
 
Ruth Ssenyonyi, a marriage counsellor working with Bank of Uganda, advises couples living apart to: “Lay strategies on how the family projects and how the family will be maintained. Make sure you schedule time to talk about life, work, finances, family and any other issues that may have risen between the two of you.” 
 
She also advises on the choice of the person left to help the spouse who stays with the children. Ssenyonyi advises against letting a housegirl stay with a husband, saying it would expose him to temptation.
She says it would also not be wise to leave a housegirl with boys at home.
 
Coping with emotions/ loneliness 
Ssenyonyi warns that it is becoming increasingly common for people to engage in extra marital sex because their partners are away. However, she urges couples in long distance relationships to exercise self-control to remain faithful to their partners. 
 
Odoi also advises the partner who is away to travel back home as much as they can to spend time with the family. “If you are in the same country, make sure you spend weekends and public holidays together.”
 
Ssenyonyi advises couples that stay apart to always make sure they have quality time when they are together by doing things they both enjoy.
 
People respond to separation differently, but one common element is the feeling of emptiness and loneliness. Whenever one finds themselves in such a situation, Musaalo recommends reconnecting with oneself. He gives examples of one taking a class, going out with friends, learning a new skill or doing voluntary work.
 
Compiled by Agnes Kyotalengerire
 
 

Mugula tips on how to handle love from a distance

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