By Esther Nantambi
On the evening of April 30, 2020, two middle-aged men stood outside Pearl of Africa Hotel having an animated conversation for about 20 minutes. They had not met too far back yet they shared a lot in common; mutual respect, 25 years in marriage, wives that loved each other’s company and the honour of being parents to two newlyweds, Hannington Buule Kajja and Jeanne Marie Kirabo whose wedding reception they had been attending.
“A friend once told me that when you meet the person you will marry, you feel complete,” shares Buule. “He did not lie. Everything fell in place when I met Jeanne. We bonded, our families bonded, it was like two parts of a unit finally finding each other.”
How they met
Buule, the CEO Orthoflexx walked in at Pendezza Beauty Spot on Toowa Mall on October 15, 2019, to deliver an orthopedic appliance, get the money and move on.
Focused as he was on doing his job and getting on his way, the beauty of the shop’s only occupant was not lost on him. ”Pretty girl with a bit of an attitude,” he noted to himself at a glance. His eyes flew to her fingers, involuntarily checking to see if she was imprinted by a mark of another, a wedding band. He saw nothing.
“Hey Jeanne,” he uttered warmly, knowing her name from her aunt who was not able to meet him there on time. She looked up in surprise at the stranger who called her by name. Buule got straight to the point. “Are you married?” he asked.
“Maybe…” she answered half smiling, her surprise now replaced with bemusement.
Letting the conversation go, Buule took a sit to wait for Jeanne’s aunt to return. The person who sat however was a different person. He was no longer a man with an orthopedic appliance to sell, he was a man in pursuit of his bride and he was not wasting any time.
“I am going to marry your daughter,” he stated rather than asked Sophie, Jeanne’s aunt when she returned. They were speaking in private at his request.
“I will treat your Aunt, but only if she will let me take your number,” Buule repeated the same to Jeanne a few minutes later.
On October 18, three days after their first encounter, they had their first date at Faze 2 in Nakasero, Kampala. “I knew from the moment I saw her that she would be my wife. She was the missing portion in my life and I was hers. It was fate,” he says, adding that Jeanne soon discovered that he truly loved her.
“He didn’t miss a day without calling to pray at night,” she shares. “During our first date, he was a gentleman, attentive, forthcoming… I was a queen stepping into a new world.”
When asked what qualities he fell for, Buule reveals, “Jean is beautiful but it is her humility. She is truthful, open-minded and she loved that I loved her truly. There is a value she carries that I long to see.”
A couple of months in, the couple knew they wanted to commit and be together in holy matrimony. “Her mum was happy, but my dad, concerned about how little we had dated, asked me to wait,” recounts Buule.
Buule reassured his father that he had made the right choice and was ready to settle. He also took Jeanne to visit at his home once in a while. His parents grew comfortable once they got to know her.
Kukyala, the official visit
With a few escorts, Buule made a visit to Jeanne’s paternal aunt in a kukyala ceremony. He took a few gifts with him and after a successful meetup left to arrange for the Kwanjula. Before the couple could have their ceremony, a countrywide lockdown was declared by the president.
Lucky for them, what would have been an end turned into a beginning when Jeanne’s father okayed for them to have a scientific wedding. “He did not care about material things. What he wanted was to support us to do what is right,” says Buule, who quotes his father-in-law as saying, “The main thing in marriage is holy matrimony. We want to support you to sanctify your marriage.”
“What our parents did should be an example all parents,” Buule concludes.
Wedding preparations went underway and everything went smoothly.
“We didn’t have fights with the organizing committee of the wedding, neither do we have a cake or décor person demanding us,” Buule comments, according part of the success to having been able to handle the services providers himself. “I was the chairman, treasurer and secretary and it was doable because we were planning for a few people.”
Buule estimates the whole wedding cost at Shs10million. Photography and videography at Shs1.5m, which is usually done at Shs8m, best man and groom attires at Shs1.5m, bride and matron’s attires at Shs3.5m, rings at Shs2m, food for his twenty guests at Shs1.6m, each plate costing Shs80,000 and two nights each at $220 approximately Shs830,000 at the Pearl of Africa Hotel for their honeymoon.
This was a big reduction from the previous wedding budget of Shs90m.
Buule is confident that having a ‘scientific’ wedding was the best decision they could have made.
Notably, the groom wore an African ensemble. He reveals that one of his challenges was making it to the fitting meetings at his stylist’s with the limitations on transport and general movement.
“I had to ride a bicycle about 10 times in the three weeks of preparation to check on my outfit,” he says.
Jeannie opted for a princess Cinderella gown from Bridal Paradise.
Their photography was done by Julius Spicie, the CEO of Spicie Images who used bicycles together with his crew to make sure the couple’s wedding memories were captured.
The bride, groom and their families got permission from the RDC to use cars.
At 11 am in All Saints Cathedral, Nakasero, Rev. Canon Captain Titus Baraka declared the couple man and wife with twenty family members and God as their witnesses.
Additional reporting by Rashim Nabanja