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Engineer David Mayambala met Barbara Nalwanga on one lucky Saturday evening when he decided to do some shopping in town. As he entered her shop, she welcomed him in a soothing but professional manner, and helped him with his shopping.
In David’s mind, he envisioned Barbara as a humble beautiful wife who wouldn’t care just about him and their children but his visitors and relatives as well.
It is clear to see why David was painting these pictures that soon; In Kampala – and Uganda in general -, customer care is a rare commodity. Most times, you will walk into a shop and before an attendant helps you, they glance at you from head to foot. They are trying to assess if you are a customer worth their time and effort. This kind of behavior doesn’t only happen in the informal sector. In fact, it is worse in the formal sector. You must have seen social media posts of disgruntled customers who walked into government or big cooperations and were treated like trash by reps whose job is to warmly welcome anyone who walks into the door.
Once David was convinced that this shop attendant was his ideal future wife, he started laying strategies to show her he was worth her love. From converting into a repeat customer to a number of dates, David eventually won Barbara’s heart. This was the year of 2014.
In 2015, he illustrated his commitment to Barbara by taking the first official step and visiting her Senga (aunt). This is the first step among the three steps in Ugandan weddings. He had promised Barbara he would do the kwanjula and wedding soon after but David faced a few financial constraints. However, he kept assuring his fiancée, Barbara, that he would fulfill his pledge.
That would not come to happen until 2019 when David finally fulfilled Barbara’s dream of an introduction ceremony. In Ugandan culture, an introduction is considered very important as it is a ceremony to honor a bride’s parents and also get their blessing. In fact, when financially constrained and forced to choose, some couples –and even parents – would rather do an introduction ceremony than a white wedding.
On the d-day, David together with his entourage set off for Namayumba, Nuuma. This is where Barbara’s father, Mr. Bogere Patrick resides. Patrick ensured to set up a beautiful reception for his guests and indeed, it was a pleasant sight.
For décor, the bako’s (in-laws) tent was beautifully decorated with glass (acrylic) Chavarria chairs, glass charger plates, and baby pink tables to create a glass and baby pink theme. The other tents for the rest of the guests were set up with the same colors but in a church or theatre set up. The bride’s gazebo was similarly decorated with the same colors. Generally, the venue looked very nice and pleasant.
Although David’s team had time challenges, they managed to reach the venue safely with one of the Buganda traditional marriage symbols – ekita kyo’mwenge (a Ugandan local brew meant to mediate the ceremonial discussions) – before them.
As the guests settled in, the various groups pre-arranged to greet visitors did their part. Greeting, entertaining and making guests “feel at ease.
Barbara’s introduction was a bit different. Her sengas chose to go back to the old way of doing introductions. Unlike today where a senga spots the son-in-law and leads him to the house, in the olden days, it was not that quick. The senga would deny knowledge of the groom the first time then go back to the house. After some pursuasion, she would return and this time around, she would accept knowledge of the groom and lead to the house to meet the bride’s father to get accepted as an in-law (okuzalibwa).
The latter was the case at David and Barbara’s kwanjula. After the first round, the sengas changed into different gomesis and returned to see if they could identify the groom. This time around, they did and moved him into the house where he was accepted and thus born into the family.
Senga later returned with David and led him to his seat, introducing him to the rest of the family and guest members.
The issue of Sengas returning twice is a good idea but it has mostly been abandoned due to the fact that it takes more time and function would end up late in the night.
With other activities out of the way, the long-awaited for bride, Barbara appeared with her entourage.
Like most of today’s brides, she wore a see-through layered peach gomesi with silver and peach pearl embroidery. She then placed it with a maroon sash with sliver linings.
Barbara changed into white net layered gomesi with silver and turquoise embroidery for the gifts sesssion. She then matched her gomesi with a turquoise sash.
for the cake and engagement session, Barbara changed into a round red shimmering dress . Guest were overly excited when they fired fire wax as Barbara cut the cake.
Barbara later returned with David’s gift (kabbo kamuwala) wearing a cream gomesi with red embroidery and a red waist sash.
David and Barbara, we wish you a happily ever after.