Two teachers met and love blossomed. Robert Emitu Odutu, former principal of Masuulita Vocational Institute in Wakiso, met Florence Kiyai, a deputy headmistress of Bukakaire Primary School, Bugiri in 1979. The two wedded recently.
Florence lived with her aunt while training as a teacher in Kumi and Robert’s sister who was her aunt’s friend and colleague came to visit.
On their first encounter, Robert says he fell head over heels for Florence and got a conviction that Florence was his wife-to-be. Above all, she was a teacher.
“At the time, being a teacher was prestigious and my father pushed me to be one. When I told him that I had met a girl who was a teacher, he had no objections. He started preparing and asked me to bring her home,” Robert recounts.
In 1981, Robert’s family visited Florence’s and bride price was agreed upon. An official introduction followed and the give-away. Robert says the relatives and friends contributed to the bride price and much of the preparations for the ceremonies. Then, Florence went to Robert’s home.
“I had completed my Grade V teacher’s training at Institute of Teacher Education, Kyambogo(ITEK) and Florence had completed her Grade II course. We relocated to work in Jinja,” he says.
That same year, the couple had their first child. Then, three more before Florence went to upgrade in 1986.
The couple says they used to admire and contribute to church weddings of young couples but were not ready for the same.
“We would think of the church wedding but the schedule and finances were so tight. We had children in school and almost all the meagre salaries we earned went into their education,” he says.
This made it difficult to prepare a wedding ceremony and hardly gave them time. All they did was admire and move on.
Later, one of their children wedded. This inspired their family. While the parents wanted to be exemplary by going for a church wedding, the children too wished their parents the same experience.
“Whenever we went home, people would keep asking about when our parents would get married. This often happened at church too, especially when a young couple wedded,” Christine Tibanaga, the couple’s third born recalls.
When Robert retired in 2018, he promised to do the ceremony as soon as possible but Florence was still teaching and it became an excuse.
In 2019 Christmas holiday, the children insisted about their parents’ wedding. The parents claimed they had inadequate funds and the children promised to get it.
“They set the date for December 12, 2020. Even when Covid-19 came, they said they would not change their mind,” Florence said.
Their children started holding preparatory meetings in Kampala, while the parents did theirs in the village, in addition to premarital counselling.
According to the couple, there was less to learn since they had spent long together. However, the priest told them to never separate rooms no matter the incident because many people separate bedrooms, especially when they age. This, causes stress leading to early death.
Because they have spent more time together, they were given the privilege of counselling younger couples.
Robert says focusing less on money and sharing keeps a family together. “This principle has kept our family together for this long,” he says.
Sometimes Robert and wife would get overwhelmed by all the processes involved in the wedding. The children played the biggest role supported by their parents, friends and relatives.
“The boys were concerned with our father, especially his clothes and the girls were concerned with our mother’s outfit and make-up,” Christine says.
D-day and moments
The make-up artist travelled from Kampala to Bukedea District on the eve of the wedding and everyone was set by 9am on the wedding day.
At 11.30am, they were at Bukedea Church of Uganda. Robert says the turnout was immense and this showed how much people loved the couple. He was nervous and eager to see his bride.
“When we entered church, I wanted to see Florence but my best man kept nudging me and said I was not supposed to look back,” Robert recollects.
Florence was excited that finally, the day had come.
“My daughter was always stressed because we were not married in church. Now we had put her stress to rest,” Florence says.
She was elated to see her colleagues who were in the same outfit. The people that turned up, especially the district education officer (DEO) made her feel so important.
Robert, on the other hand, had his best moment in church when he removed her veil and shouted, “It is her!”
The photo moment was a bonus for him.
After the celebrations, the couple did not go for honeymoon because they had many guests who had come for the Christmas holiday.
They revealed that their house in Bukedea gave them much peace too.
“What mattered to us is that we enjoyed the time with our loved ones,” Florence says.
The couple advises young couple to keep in contact and friendship with relatives and friends because they are the people who will be there for them in their highs and lows. “Also, let people contribute to your functions because when they attend, they feel valued and less estranged.”
Date: December 12, 2020
Church: St. Mathew Church of Uganda, Bukedea
Reception: At home in Bukedea
Gown: Maria Bridal at Shs1m
Suit: Nabugabo Building, Shs900, 000
Cake: Cake Boss, Mbale. Shs1.8m
Décor: Devine Grace party services, Mbale