“I grew up in family of only boys but we lived with other half siblings and cousins. In spite of being the second born, my father loved me a lot and got me everything I wanted. So, I grew up in love, I knew love and I perfectly understood love,” begins the narration of Collin Kalemera’s love story.
Now working as a legal associate at Kania and Alli Advocates and Solicitors, Collins vividly remembers every step of his life until the final blessing for a wife, Elizabeth Bomujuni whom he met at Makerere while at Law school.
“I was one of those chaps that loved girls, not in a player way but I started relating pretty early,” he tells.
While many are still innocent and looking forward to finishing their first major level of education, Collins was busy officially getting a first girlfriend, not just any, but the prestigious sister to the headmistress of his then school.
“We started our things during those remedial holiday classes and of course the headmistress did not know. How could she?” he laughs.
The two lost touch when he joined secondary school.
This is the bullying phase for almost every new student but unlike the rest, Collins who had an elder brother and mature feared friends on the prefectorial body which guaranteed him protection.
These privileges made Collins confident while at Merry Land High School.
“I had this huge crush on some beautiful girl in senior two and lucky for me, she liked me too so in the end we dated for a month or two.”
This ended because he had to change school to Mbogo Mixed.
Change of school did not deter Collins from being the great love- letter writing guru he was. While there, he managed to date a pastor’s daughter who was a very quiet girl.
But aside from her, in his neighbourhood back at home, Collins had dated quite a number of girls aswell.
“I was not a player though. Somehow things ended so fast with these girls but whenever I dated, it was one person at a time. I was faithful,” he justifies himself.
By this time Collins had gained quite a reputation among the girls and in their dormitories, a bad name was attached to his name.
“It was every girl’s best interest to stay away from me,” he shakes his head.
In this period, he did not date any one.
I guess once a charmer, always a charmer. In spite of his bad reputation the year before, the universe still held one final beauty to end Collin’s O-Level.
He met Shakira (Not real name) towards the end of his senior four and the two secretly dated.
“I knew there was a lot of wrong information about me and so when I met Shakira, I kept her under the radar because I did not want anyone poisoning her. But of course due to distance and change of school, we also ended,” he explains.
Despite the fact that Collins had dated all those girls, he had not yet had the romantic experience of a “first cut.”
Life was however bent on finally showing him love’s reality that particular year.
Fast forward, during a school trip to Western Uganda, Collins found himself seated in the dark in-between strangers.
“It was not until day break that I realised my neighbour was a really pretty girl so we began catching up and agreed to spend the rest of the trip together. We were so into each other and spent every moment through hikes, at the park, together. One time she got an asthma attack, I remember carrying her to the bus and her sight broke my heart,” he remembers.
Eventually the two were dubbed “couple of the school” until she broke his heart in his first year at Campus.
“She just kicked me out of the picture,” he frowns at the memory.
That was when the man of the ladies discovered the pain in heart breaks and he vowed never to let any such things happen to him again.
By second year of law school, Collins did a lot of self-discovery and realised that he was not proud of some pieces of the story of his life.
“I realised I had to sit down and re-evaluate myself. I was empty and living reckless. My mother always made sure we grew up going to church so I went back to my roots,” a defeated Collins admits.
He found something to give his passion to until he would find love again. He joined the church band and youth Ministry at Full Gospel Church, Makerere. His life was basically school, church, and dancing salsa which he has done for seven years now, some days he would go to live band or movies.
Meeting the one
One day as he prepares for a youth dance, he sees a dark skinned girl sitting in a corner who later turns out to have been escorting one of the dancer’s to practice. He brushes her off his mind immediately.
Fast forward, during a dinner at a church youth camp, Collins’ date doesn’t turn up so he decides to put all his energy to committee work.
As he runs up and down, he bumps into Elizabeth . Collins immediately thought was;
“I so not letting her go. She was going to be my date,” and that’s how the two started keeping in touch.
“Well, I had heard a lot about him before I met him. My best friend who was in Ministry with him always complained about how they clashed and I got curious. When I got off the bus some guy handed me something to hold for him (she rolls her eyes). Later in the night at the formal campers’ introduction, I find out it is the “famous” Collins,” Elizabeth narrates.
She immediately knew he liked her and it was exciting to watch as he tried to please. All his prior experience with dating didn’t hold water this time. He was like a small boy, nervous around her, trying to impress, looking out for her through friends and he sang her “Ichitemiwiko” by Abel Chungu at the dinner which later became their song within inner circles.
After a few weeks, he confessed his feelings.
“I did not want things to get awkward between us as friends and I am not the type that will wait and try to make friends before I can take things to another level so I told her I would like us to explore the emotions but not as friends.”
Elizabeth told him she would get back to him but three months later and a few dates, she had not.
“My friend kept advising me to make him work to earn me. Plus I am a lady, my lady-mind was telling me not to show interest too soon. He had to buy lots of ice cream, free up most of his evenings for me, text and call. I gave him the impression that we could never be more than friends but I just wanted to test his persistence,” she laughs.
Elizabeth had kept a tired Collins waiting for so long that he insisted they meet at their favourite meeting place, Makerere Rugby grounds.
She fondly remembers the evenings at those grounds when she would force him to take long walks in her favour. There was when she spoke and said,
“I can’t wait another month or year, I don’t think my heart will change. Keeping you longer won’t change my mind, I want this and I want to see where this will end up.”
To which he replied, “We are still at school, if you give me five years and we are still together, I will marry you.”
Of course things were not always smooth as the two fought over everything, said some mean things to each other sometimes and almost broke up many times.
“I don’t remember saying mean things but he insists I was a typical Mukiga-very blunt. I think we both did not think the relationship would survive so we both started seeing other people,” she reveals.
On the Valentine’s Day of 2013, Collins made a pact with himself to be the man in the relationship, take charge and fix it.
He decided to use checking on a friend who had got an accident at the hospital as an excuse to get her company to which she obliged. That day, he took her out for lunch and revealed his need to amend their relationship.
From that day, no matter what happened, the two would communicate and fix it or find a way to work around it. Elizabeth does not remember why it was rocky in the first place.
Five years later, during what seemed like a normal date, the unexpected happened at Fuego restaurant. Collins had hired a band to sing for them and the lead singer in the band was Collins’ friend.
As planned, the lead singer offered Collins the microphone to give a sample but when he concluded the song, he called Elizabeth out.
“She thought I was just showing her off which I do a lot to make her feel like she is the centre of my attention. She really is. I never thought I would go flat on my knees but I did and whispered sweet nothings and she got teary.”
It was a surreal moment in which Collins just wanted to bask in the priceless joy on her face forever.
“At the end of the day, dating is all about information. And knowing you have someone and the miles they would go for you. Hearing them say it no matter how many times they do makes the experience,” a nostalgic Collins notes.
Challenges before the wedding
From day one, Collin’s parents loved his wife and supported them whereas Elizabeth’s are traditional and had reservations with casual introductions.
“I introduced him unofficially to my mum some day at some family hangout and she kind of ignored what I said saying he should meet her at home,” she remembers that as a grave mistake.
Also, the couple’s initial wedding venue became unavailable less than a month to the set date forcing them to look for a last minute venue. Booking places at the last moment meant letting money paid as booking fees to painfully go as well as pay more to get a new setting.
“We thought we had lots of money saved up until we started paying service providers. It was a reality check. We had to get serious with wedding meetings, get in touch with long lost friends and acquaintances, basically multiply our fundraising efforts,” says Elizabeth.
They eventually changed a few service providers, bargained with others and allowed to get family support. One needs to anticipate challenges as well and stash away some money in earlier preparation.
The wedding happened on 8th September, 2018 at Full gospel church and the reception was at Garden City Rooftop. The guest list was made of 300 guests.
The couple got most financial support from family, friends and work mates. Whereas Collins was hesitant about the price of his garment, Elizabeth hired hers from a friend in the gowns business at Shs800, 000 and their cake was made by a sister-in-law.
“I was spoilt for choice during the wedding gowns and changing dress selection. Oh I enjoyed the gowns the changing dress. I loved the design, my heels were super high and I was proud to be wearing them even though I haven’t wore them since then. I keep thinking my dress should have been shorter so I could show them off,” she laughs.
The two have been married for about four months and moved in together with Collins being called “Tata Angel” in some circles because he cannot wait to be a father.