This was a Friday like no other. It was dark and chilly. The stars in the sky seemed to be on a spying mission for the many uninvited guests to this rather intimate and grand day.
Bright candles, specifically on this table of four, and soft music in the background did not do much to ease the tension Ridley Abimanya was under as he awaited the arrival of his darling, Patience Nayebare.
Having arrived at Jack’s Lounge, Mbarara earlier according to the plan, the thought of asking Nayebare to spend the rest of her life with him in front of the about 20 people who were visibly minding their own business was clearly eating at the 34-year-old.
But his two ‘partners in crime’, best friend Isaiah Nasaasira and Agnes Asiimwe, Nayebare’s sister, were there to support him.
In Ankole, kneeling is not a common practice by both men and women so it takes a lot of courage or eternal love’’ as in Abimanya’s case to get the man down on his knee for a worthy life partner.
“My heart has never beaten as hard and fast as it did when I took the knee with the ring in my hand as she walked toward me. In this moment she literally became the air I breathe,” he recalls.
“The closer she came towards me in her little blue dress, black high heels, the more unsure I became about the answer she would give. I expected a ‘yes’ or I die.”
Jack’s Lounge was a favourite hangout place for the two lovebirds. They always had their dates at this venue every Friday and the sight of Abimanya kneeling completely shocked Nayebare, 31.
“When I saw him on his knees with a ring in his hands, I froze. I did not see this coming at all. I was scared and wondering why he was in a rush (to propose),” Nayebare recalls.
“Standing in front of me with her hands on her face in disbelief, I asked if she would marry me. She said yes!” Abimanya says.
All of a sudden, to the delighted amazement of the couple, everyone in the room shouted congratulations.
Hathcing the plan
Abimanya had made all the arrangements to have a very intimate, simple and real ‘African’ romantic proposal with Nasaasira and Asiimwe.
“My parents and family do not like a flashy pompous lifestyle and prefer doing things the simple way regardless of one’s status. I admired their sobriety and simplicity which inspired my idea to propose the way I did in spite of the public display of affection era we are in today,” Abimanya says.
Around a week to the D-day he bought the ring and gave it to his best friend on that day for reassurance of its availability at the special moment.
“I could not trust my nervous self to remember everything especially the most important one of all, the ring. He handed it to me when I was taking the knee,” Abimanya says.
Nasaasira was responsible for making sure Asiimwe was on time and kept on the lookout for Nayebare to make sure her arrival did not catch them all off guard.
“He played a great role keeping my confidence,” Abimanya adds.
Asiimwe’s role was to show up on time and represent Nayebare’s friends and family. She is the one who informed their family about the proposal as they only knew Abimanya as a friend by then.
How they met
In 2013, Nayebare, a banker and Abimanya, an accountant, met and hit it off with friendship while working under the same project for about 14 months.
“I liked her from the moment I set my eyes on her and reached out by treating her in a special way at work. She was welcoming. We shared much about our personal lives and discovered that we had a lot in common. She was beautiful, intelligent and developmental with very many good ideas. After about a year, our friendship gradually advanced into something more,” says Abimanya.
It was a no brainer for Nayebare that he had taken a liking for her based on how he treated her differently at work, helping her beat deadlines, dropping her home every evening after work and calling every evening.
“He would take me for dates, surprise me with gifts which, indeed, assured me that he felt something special for me. Being close uncovered the man of my dreams in him. He was hardworking, God-fearing, very friendly, and handsome and above all, had respectful qualities I always wanted in a husband,” Nayebare recalls.
The couple figured building a lasting relationship did not necessarily depend on a third party’s opinion which led them to keeping their love under wraps at work. Click to here to read