By Rashim Nabanja
It has been a month and some weeks now since former journalist turned politician, Joel Ssenyonyi tied the knot with his wife, Febress Nagawa. The wedding took many by surprise since there had never really been any rumours about Joel dating anyone despite him being a public figure. Suddenly one Saturday morning, the internet was hit with wedding pictures of him and this amazing lady that many fans didn’t know about.
This has kept many guessing and wanting to know how these two got to this point while keeping their relationship private.
In an interview with Makula Pictures on a YouTube show called The Wedding Chats, the Ssenyonyis answered a number of questions about their love life, the wedding preparations and what marriage is like so far. We bring you an abridged version of what they shared.
When and how they met
Joel and Febress say they met at Watoto Church way back in 2014. “I was coming from a fellowship and there she was, a beautiful girl I had never seen in this church before,” Joel narrates. He admits that he had seen a couple of beautiful girls in the church but Febress’s beauty was a notch higher, “She came and greeted the people I was standing next to and when she approached me, I even pretended I hadn’t heard at first because I didn’t want to show how she had caught my attention.”
The two somehow connected and eventually, they became very good friends even though Joel’s intentions were deeper than friendship. They kept hanging out and spending a lot of time together until the friendship graduated into a relationship.
Joel and Febress were friends for over five years and in February 2019, Joel decided to confess his feelings for her.
“We had been friends for quite long and from the start, I wanted to get married to someone I was friends with. From time to time we would have small fights and arguments as friends and get back together until I realised she was the one, so I popped the question,”says Joel.
According to Febress, she had sensed hints about his feelings towards her when he would go an extra mile with some good acts like taking her out for coffee and lunch.
The couple dated for over a year and some months, until June 27, 2020 when they tied the knot.
The two share more details about how they managed to pull off theirwedding ceremony.
Considering that you had a wedding during the Covid-19 times, how did you manage to deal with the numbers on your guest list?
Febress: It was hard due to the fact that we both have big families,but we had to seat down as a team and make some agreements. We decided we were only going to invite active people in our lives, friends and family that we believed we could run to any time in case of any challenges. It was a bit tricky but we had to get through with it.
How did you handle the preparations despite the lockdown and curfew?
Febress: On a scale of 0-10, it was 7. It was challenging, especially when it came to handling the part of the service providers. We hadearlier on agreed on checking out only three service providers to avoid confusion and we knew that out of the three, we would only go with one. However, when the lockdown came, things became even harder since we couldn’t meet with them. We still managed to keep communicating using video calls but after praying about it about it, we finally decided to choose one from the three and the rest of the people that handled the ceremony were more of friends.
As a bride, do you feel you had a dream wedding?
Febress: Actually I did. I’m not someone that loves being very fancy, so I always dreamt of having something simple but good, and it really turned out that way.
Did the lockdown affect your wedding budget in anyway?
Febress: I would say it goes both ways. Some things went up and others down for example getting bridal wear was a bit expensive due to the scarcity. The venue and food too were quite expensive. The fact that there was a limit in choices affected the budget in some way.
Joel: That was a time we couldn’t hold meetings. It was the real lockdown. People were going through hard stuff. I would get friends calling for help so you couldn’t start asking them for help. But God was really faithful.
What inspired your choice of outfits?
Febress: Getting the perfect gown wasn’t easy. I had tried on a number of gowns but I hadn’t really connected with any of them.Finally I went to Bridals World. I tried on a number of gowns but I was not connecting with them. There was a specific gown hanging in the corner but the lady made me try on others at first. But they were not working. So I finally tried the one in the corner. Immediately I wore it, I felt the connection and the wedding excitement kicked in there and then.
Joel: I wanted something different. The fact that I’m always clad in dark suits basing on the kind of work I do, I wanted to explore something else. So I asked my best man and we went scouting. We tried a few things and that is when we landed on the maroon material and had it tailored.
Joel, it is a public secret that you have kept yourself pure. What advice do you have for young people out there that are having a hard time staying pure until marriage?
Joel: For the record, I’m not a virgin anymore (laughs as he points at Febress) and she is responsible. It wasn’t entirely easy but it’s a decision that I took. I also had to pray to God and tell him that the only person I wanted to sleep with was my wife and I knew it would come with huge challenges. Given the kind of person I was and the spaces I occupied, the temptations were quite numerous but I always turned back to God so, it was a journey of faith and constant work all the time reminding myself, “I have to wait,” and always turning back to God. It was tough but I thank God I managed to do it. I therefore don’t judge those that engage in sex before marriage, but encourage those trying their best to wait. It is not easy but it is doable. All you have to do is stay away from temptations.
Has life changed for you as Febress after being married to Joel?
Febress: Yes, I am now a married and committed woman. Joel commands a certain audience therefore I need to act right, because the media can really miscommunicate your intentions, words, or actions so I am now more careful with what I do and say. However, that doesn’t mean that I have thrown away my previous life away. I still do the things I like, like going downtown. Recently I was in Kikuubo and thought no one would recognize me. As I was crossing to go to Nabugabo, two ladies shouted at me, “Oyo mukyala wa spokesperson People Power, Ssenyonyi!” I was shocked. I had to wave back and smile at them. So I am now learning to deal with that.
What do you love most about each other?
Febress: There are very many things I like about this gentleman. Above all, I love the way he is passionate with God and the way he loves me. I also like the fact that he is an intelligent man and is true to his people at all times.
Joel: She is a beautiful woman that loves God. I also like the fact that she is my friend, so even though we have fights, I am always reminded she is a friend. She is also intelligent with the accounts that she does. And she shares a lot of advice with me in the work I do. She is a helper.
Any advice to the singles out there?
Joel: Marriage is good. Once you enjoy your singlehood, you will enjoy marriage. Being single shouldn’t be a burden, it is a stage in life, so don’t get married just because you are running away from being single because then, you would be crossing over for the wrong reasons. Don’t be in a rush, make the decision when you are ready but still, don’t take too long.