With Oliver Nakimbugwe, 78, and William Zzizinga, 81, it’s only understandable they don’t remember much about their wedding which took place 61 years ago. Happy to share what they remember, the Zzizingas shared their wedding experience in comparison with the current weddings.
On meeting in the village, Zzizinga, then 21, asked Nakimbugwe, then 17, to be his girlfriend and she abandoned school to get married to him. Then in upper primary school, Nakimbugwe says it was love at first sight. When he asked her out, she didn’t hesitate. They dated for five months and Zzizinga was ready to marry her.
After proposing to her, she rushed to her family and announced the good news. Nakimbugwe’s family got excited and her aunts took her through premarital counselling on what to expect in marriage and how to treat a man.
Back then, she says, there was no formal premarital counselling as all you had to do was to inform the reverend and book your wedding day.
“Then, money was very scarce so we could not afford to waste it on anything like counselling. But of course, we paid a small amount as church fee,” she says. Due to old age, the Zzizingas have since forgotten most of the details and the amount they paid as church fee is one of those.”
Nakimbugwe was told to stay in a bedroom as tradition demanded. Her sister took full responsibility of her. She bathed, smeared her with oil and cooked for her. She says this was meant to beautify the bride so that by the time she comes out on her wedding day she is prettier. Nakimbugwe says the instance of a bride moving about on their wedding day was not common.
Paying bride price
The current tradition of carrying numerous gifts to the bride’s home was not there and the groom had to pay a stipulated fee (omutwalo). Therefore, Zzizinga who was working as an office clerk in an office was asked to pay Shs260 as bride price. He recalls working tooth and nail to raise the money, but failed.
He borrowed from a friend with hope to refund after the wedding, but still failed to pay. His wife intervened. She picked coffee, sold it and paid the debt. Laughing at the circumstances she says, “I can say I paid my own bride price.
The Zzizingas didn’t organise any wedding meetings because then it was the responsibility of the host to feed guests. Food was served always at kwanjula, (introduction ceremony) then tea and buns at weddings. With a smile of satisfaction, Nakimbugwe said “For us we were lucky to serve big loaves of bread and tea.”
A few days to the wedding
Zzizinga’s family cut trees and fixed them in his father’s compound at their home in Kitungwa, Kyadondo where the reception was held. As was the practice papyrus was then cut and put on top of the trees in patterns to act as tents.
The bride wore a white gown rented from a hiring service within the village at about Shs50 and flowers were picked from wild trees around for the bridal bouquet. Some were put on her head as a tiara.
The groom on the other hand wore a suit hired from a rich Muslim in their village and the suit was called busuuti. To be considered a full busuuti, the suit had to include a hat and an oversized overcoat almost touching the ground that looks like graduation gowns. Zzizinga said those suits were respected and only a few could afford them.
Since the church was far from their home, the couples family hired a lorry each to transport the guests to church and reception. Zzizinga says few people owned cars for hiring out to functions at a small fee. A close friend to Zzizinga then lent them his small car that served as the bridal car.
Since weddings used to be a village affair, they have no idea of how many guests attended. “We didn’t mind about the number, as long as there was enough tonto (local brew) and drums (an equivalent of sound systems), the entire village gathered and made merry until morning,” Nakimbugwe said.
The Zzizingas had 10 children but six have since passed on.
What happened back then. By Lydia Ainomugisha
What the Zzizingas did 60 years ago
Compared to today’s events at weddings and after, the Zzizingas have a different story. Here are a few of the things they did back then, that are different from today’s.
Oliver Nakimbugwe says they had a one-tier cake baked by some Indians as they were the only ones who had the skill. Unlike today, it was not enough to serve every guest So, close family members and in-laws were able to eat the cake.
After taking their vows, the Zzizingas had to trek a considerable number of miles in search of a photographer. Nakimbugwe explained that then photographers were scarce as you could only find one in the entire village. Being a young couple that hardly had any savings on them, they afforded to take two photographs one group photo and the other as a couple. The group photograph suspiciously disappeared leaving them with only one. It hangs in their sitting room among those of their children and their golden jubilee celebrations.
After the wedding, the bride would then be locked up in her marital house for a week and either your sister-in-law or grandmother to your husband would take charge. In the house you were not supposed to do any form of work but to relax and feed. Nakimbugwe says coming out of the bedroom to meet the rest of the family was also another function all together.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor