By Edgar R. Batte
It was through work that Islam Kigongo and Bijou Fortunate met. They were both contracted to offer services at Abryanz Style and Fashion Awards although they were working for different companies. Bijou was in charge of table reservations while Islam supervised and coordinated the event.
As they share their love story, Islam and Bijou cannot help but smile at what destiny has served them; a love so beautiful that has not only bonded them in wedlock but also led them to share the same working space and workstation. They complement each other as the lead marketing and publicity duo at Cask Lounge, one of the top hangouts on Acacia Avenue in Kampala.
As a side hustle, Bijou runs Mochachos, an events management company while Kigongo runs Eventix Uganda, which mainly handles digital marketing. Even on a personal business front, their companies support each other and clients have come to appreciate that each or both of them serve to offer solutions when it comes to events.
After their initial meeting at the fashion awards, the two kept meeting at different social events at Sky Lounge and Guvnor Bars. Naturally, they grew from merely being ‘hi friends’ to real friends. They also discovered that they had a number of mutual friends.
“Then on December 29, 2017, my birthday, I had dinner with my friends and this is the first time Islam and I first talked quite a lot,” Bijou recounts. During the conversation, he confessed his love for her and although the feelings were mutual, she was not about to reveal her feelings to him.
“She hesitated to say yes. She actually gave me a headache for a few months. I was patient knowing that easy come, easy go. I just kept convincing her that my feelings were genuine and honest,” Kigongo recalls.
To Bijou, it was important to take her time to observe him and his intentions lest she fell in love with a joker. But as she took her time, she discovered things about him, traits that partly spoke to her aspirations and her heart.
“He was so prayerful. He would go to the mosque for all prayers, which I found unique for someone his age and into the ‘nightlife,” Bijou explains. In addition, she was happy to see a hardworking man who would leave his home so early in the morning for work no matter how late he had worked the previous night. She finally gave in to his advances.
In working together, she feels their work becomes easier since they share goals. Plus, decision-making is easy. “We easily agree on investment plans,” she adds.
Since Islam is Muslim, Bijou converted to Islam when they got married and adopted Bushira as her new name.
She says one of the reasons she loves Islam is the dress code. “I love covering my head as the Islamic way of dressing. It is very easy, and takes little time to get ready compared to the secular dressing codes of matching colours, and looking for different things that go well together such as a skirt, blouse and shoes,” she observes.
Initially a Catholic, Bijou says she is learning to pray, noting that Arabic is still a bit of a challenge but she is willing to work at improving and fully adopting. To help her learn, Islam put her in touch with a sheikh as a mentor.
Is it easy to work with your wife?
“I think it is okay given the scenario that there are times when we get different assignments and if she cannot be in two places at the same time, I can stand in and do a good job and the other way round. We have built our brands as a couple so clients know that we work together, so if either of us is not around, the customer will rest, assured that whoever is there will do a good job,” Islam says.
The couple plan to start a family as they mutually grow their business entities.
One of their ground rules is to separate business from personal relations so if they disagree or are faced with challenges at work, they have agreed to divorce them from their personal affairs.
Out of the work environment, Kigongo and his wife go to the gym and also cook together. She respects the fact that before they met, he had his life and there are things he enjoys so at times, she lets him be. She also has time to enjoy what she likes. Her advice for couples is to occasionally let each other enjoy things they individually love so as not to choke or suffocate one another.