By Desire Mbabali
In 1989, 26-year-old George Senyonga met 21-year-old Berna Naluwu. Berna narrates everything as though it were yesterday.
“We met when George was a trader in Kikuubo and I was a student at Shimoni Teacher’s College,” she says. With one year left to complete her teaching course, Berna gave marriage a thought. When her friend introduced her to George. She was open to the idea of getting to know the stranger.
“When he came with my friend to visit me at school for the first time, I was going to attend a wedding, we didn’t talk. The following Saturday, he returned alone and we talked,” she adds.
George admits they were introduced by their mutual friend after his search for a spouse had yielded no results. “When you are single, you see many girls from whom you think you can pick when the time comes to marry. However, when the real-time to choose a partner comes, and you critically look again, you realise that you cannot manage to be with them. That is what happened to me,” he says. This cornered him to ask friends that he trusted to help him find a wife, a path that led him to Berna.
When they finally got to talk, the conversation went well.
“I went bearing gifts and we talked so much that day. I went back home with my heart content and open to having her as my wife,” George says with a smile.
Berna recounts how she asked him questions about his life, his faith (as a Born Again Christian, it was important) and from there, a friendship was born. George visited her every weekend until she completed her education.
“Every time I went there, I left with more love and affection for her and after about five months, I went to my pastor to let him know that I had found a wife and we were having the introduction in a month’s time. However, our pastor advised us to wait, and go back to him after six months. This was a blow, considering the circumstances. Nevertheless, we did as advised and he gave us a green light,” George says.
Bound by love
George says for all the time they dated, Berna never asked him to take her out or for anything; save for the gifts he would take to her that he felt she needed. She was careful with her words and God-fearing, which won him over.
Berna’s list of qualities was long but George fulfilled most. He was serious about his faith, neat and always smart. He was generous, caring, and his age suitable for hers. Also, he was developmental.
“Additionally, he was highly recommended by all people I asked, while I made inquiries. He is caring and I could tell that his all was in the relationship,” Berna shares.
One year later, in April 1990, they held their introduction and two months later, walked down the aisle at Makerere Full Gospel Church.
Thereafter, they treated their guests to a reception at Fairway Hotel.
“My husband had a house in Nateete, so we started living together and though we have heard that the first years into marriage are hard and can see marriages break, it was never the case with us,” Berna notes.
For George, the only challenge in their early years, especially after the wedding, was that his disposable income reduced.
“I had injected a lot of money into the wedding because everything they told me, I would do. By the time we finished, we had a financial setback. Gladly, it was not a big deal to my wife. We also had a family of about eight people – relatives – and I would buy at least a bag of posho, beans and charcoal. I had got what I wanted, my focus now was rebuilding my job again,” he recalls.
Although they faced challenges, they have to date never had a major challenge to push them to the edge and wish to leave.
“Not because I am righteous,” he says, “But it has been the grace of God. In marriage, one should be able to move on regardless of their differences. When a situation comes, no matter how big, it comes to an end.”
Thus, with prayer, bearing one another and solving their own problems, they moved their 30 years.
His wife does not differ. Her early years of their marriage were good and she was able to deal with the relatives and the four children she found in George’s home. As a teacher, she knew how to handle the people. The couple had their first child nine months after the wedding. home. Since he travelled a lot for work, it made it quick for her to assume responsibility and gain confidence from the children and people she found.
Building a life
In 1993, Berna quit teaching to work with her husband in their electronics shop in Nateete, which helped them bond more. When either of them travelled abroad for work or ministry, it would be challenging until they decided to travel together.
In 2001, they set up Little Angels Primary School with two branches in Kasanje. In 2003, they went into church ministry, (Life Church Bulungu—Kasanje) and in 2006, they opened Golden Christian College, Nsaggu. The couple has eight children.
On the anniversary
Thirty years in marriage is not a mean feat.
“My wife battled blood pressure and diabetes three years ago. We would carry her unconscious to hospital with no hope of returning, but she survived. That was another reason for us to celebrate and give thanks to God. I have to also thank my wife for being patient with me,” George says.
In the same vein, Berna felt the need to thank her husband for being with her through thick and thin.
“We have also achieved many things in terms of work, ministry and as a family. We felt it would encourage those who look up to us to know they can also make it.
Again, our children have done us proud. They have gone to school, are working, they love one another and they were looking forward to celebrating with us,” she happily notes.
With the lockdown in place, the family was able to pull off a successful 30-year wedding anniversary on June 25.