New Vision (Kampala)

6 January 2013

Uganda: Katatumba's Failed 8-Year Marriage to Her First Love

Angella Katatumba is a singer, philanthropist and daughter of renowned businessman and Ugandan consul to Pakistan, Bonney Katatumba.

Despite her eye-catching beauty, fame and money, she has for years kept the public guessing about her love life. The innumerable suitors notwithstanding, Katatumba has shown no interest in marriage.

She revealed to Sebidde Kiryowa and Isaac Baligema her untold story of a failed eight-year marriage to her first love and how it has affected her.

Meeting her first love:

I was about to complete a Masters Degree in International Management at the Oxford Brookes University, when I got a job as the lead singer of a live band that played at Ponanas' Club on Cornmarket Street in Oxford, England.

During my live performance at the club, I met Ward Alonzo. He often came to watch me sing. Eventually, he gathered the guts and asked me out for dinner and from then on, we started dating. He was my first boyfriend and first love. We were crazy about each other and after six months, he proposed to me. I said yes.

The marriage:

We then got married in Oxford, England. A year later, when Alonzo had finished his term with the Airforce and I had finished my course, we moved to his hometown in Chicago, Illinois in the US.

While living in Chicago, I quickly became the bread winner due to my ambition, hard work and great résumé. After living in Chicago for about six months, I was already earning $50,000 (about sh135m) per year, managing an Italian restaurant.

Alonzo, who worked as a personal assistant to his father, earned $17, 000 (about sh45.9m) per year. I decided I could do better and aimed to double my salary. To do this, I had to quit my job to make time to aggressively chase for a better job.

Alonzo thought I was being too ambitious and he constantly asked me who I thought I was and asking where I was getting the confidence from. I stuck to my guns and quit my job.

Unfortunately, I did not get another one immediately, and this is where trouble started.

Things fall apart:

We started arguing all the time. From his usual time of 3:00am, he started returning home at 5:00am every Thursday to Sunday. It did not affect me that much since I was used to him returning home late. I think I was too naïve at the time to handle a marriage.

I eliminated my family and friends as he wished me to do. He was very insecure; he had an inferiority complex and was very violent.

He never hit me, but he could punch walls and even throw tables, glasses and anything on the floor whenever he got annoyed. Every week, I replaced something he broke in the house.

I could not see anything negative in his acts because I was deeply in love with Alonzo because I knew it was a life time commitment.

Divorce:

One night, he said: "Angie, I am done." It was the most shocking news I had ever received. I went on the floor, cried and begged him to stay, saying we were married and that marriage is full of ups and downs.

I reminded him that I had left my life in Oxford and Uganda behind to be with him forever, but he could not listen. Instead he mocked me, saying: "Don't be silly, don't you know that nothing lasts forever?"

He packed everything that belonged to him and moved out, leaving me in our $1000 (about sh2.7m) a month apartment. I was still new in the country, having been there for only six months. I did not know anyone since my family lived in Uganda.

I would never consider committing suicide, but my heartache was so painful that I felt like sleeping and never waking up. I remember wishing I could get hit by a bus and just die on the spot, without feeling it. That is how low I had sunk.

I remember calling my dad and telling him that the marriage had failed and that I wanted a ticket to come back home. He refused, saying: "Young girl, that is not how you handle life. You do not run away from your problems. Stay there and face them."

He advised me to pray and to look for a job. My parents had no idea how bad things were and I was too embarrassed to tell them that I was broke. I was too humiliated to tell them that Alonzo had left me in such a cruel way.

At the time, I was close to 100kgs, but during that heartbreak, I lost 38 kgs.

The healing process begins:

I took my father's advice to pray and read the Bible. It was during this time that I discovered the book of Job. I read about Job's trials and tribulations and I realised that mine were nothing compared to what he endured. This motivated me to move on.

Earlier when I left my job, I resorted to posting my résumé on the internet.

Fortunately, three weeks into my predicament, I received a call from a head hunter for the late Isaac Hayes, a popular American R&B singer-turned businessman.

He told me my résumé had impressed them and wanted me to manage the Chicago branch of their Isaac Hayes Music-Food-Passion restaurant. With the job, I would walk home with $80,000 (about sh216m) per year.

I had to undergo a month's fully-paid training in Minnesota, at the restaurant's head office. The company would cater for all the expenses; flights, meals, hotel accommodation for the duration of the training.

They also accorded me a fully-paid rental car for this period. This was clearly a miracle from God and the answer to my prayers. I accepted the offer and left for Minnesota.

I flew back to Chicago a month later, with a renewed sense of confidence. I had a new job. I bought new clothes to fit my new slimmer size.

Upon my return, I found the landlord throwing my belongings out for none payment of rent. I stopped him and handed him money for two months.

Alonzo's surprise return:

The next morning, as I took a shower, I heard a knock on the door. I thought the land lord whom I had sorted out the previous day was back with another issue. But I got the shock of my life when, upon opening the door, it was Alonzo!

Before I could say anything, he fell on his knees, crying and begging me to let him back into my life. Having gone through hell and back; praying everyday for him to come back to me, this was too good to be true. Without a second thought, I allowed him back with open arms.

Though I allowed him back, I was so confused and kept wondering how unserious some men are.

Alonzo came back determined to make the marriage work. He was now always home by 6:00pm. He would cook for me daily, buy me flowers, chocolate, and called me several times a day.

But after sometime, the reality of his betrayal began to sink in. No matter how hard I to tried to make it work with Alonzo, I found myself avoiding him.

I lost feelings for him to the extent that I did not want to be anywhere near him. This time around, it was me returning home at 5:00am and even later, sometimes.

Trouble in the house again:

After a few months, my parents flew to Chicago for a visit. When they came, they lived with us.

It is during this stay that my father called a meeting with my mum, Alonzo and myself. He then said he is happy that we had made it through the rough patch.

He advised us against renting, saying it was better to buy a house and pay mortgage. He gave Alonzo $10,000 (about sh27m) and asked him to go and buy a house for us.

Alonzo shocked us all when he refused the money, saying we were not ready to buy a house because he was worried about the plumbing or electricity challenges in the house.

My father told him that if something like that happened, we only needed to call an electrician or a plumber. Alonzo said he planned to get a better job and support me with the finances.

He said he wanted to take care of his wife himself and not depend on handouts. He then respectfully gave the money in the envelope back to my dad and went to work.

I realised that I would never progress in life with Alonzo. It was clear that the relationship would never work out.

As soon as Alonzo left the house, I told my dad to give me the money instead and we both went to hunt for a house. We found a beautiful house, which we paid for immediately.

We decided not to tell Alonzo because he was in an aggressive mood of getting me back and he was ready to do anything to make the relationship work. I had chosen a less dramatic way to end the relationship.

A few days later, my parents left for Uganda. When I returned home, I found Alonzo waiting for me. He sat me down and in tears, told me how he felt I was getting more distant from him. He apologised for his past mistakes and said he wanted to make the marriage work.

He asked me if I also wanted the marriage to succeed, to which I just kept quiet. When he asked whether I wanted 'space' to 'cool' myself, I said yes.

Father, mother, daughter: The Katatumbas mingle.

When he asked to move out, I told him it was not necessary and instead I was the one who moved out the following morning to my new house.

New chapter:

I started a new life. I felt so liberated, so happy and stress-free. I found my independence and soared on in life.

And a few months later, I left the Isaac Hayes job and got a new one at a Casino in Chicago, as a food and beverages director, which paid me close to $100,000 (about sh270m) a year. I bought the latest Lexus RX 300 and many other things. Life was great.

When I came back to Uganda to start a singing career, I told my parents the real story of what I went through. My mother cried uncontrollably, asking me why I had not told them exactly what I was going through.

She said they would have simply rescued me. I told her it was an embarrassing experience and that I did not want them to know.

Five years later, after a number of failed attempts to try to win me back, Alonzo finally gave up and agreed to sign the divorce papers.

I thank God so much for that experience because I learned a lot, especially to be independent, unlike before. I learned to struggle. I learned to never give up, no matter how bad things get.

I learned to have faith, to trust and to love God because he saw me through that period and I thank him constantly. I will never stop giving God the glory.

From that time, I have been extremely careful with men, love and relationships.

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