7 February 2013

Uganda: Komuntale Torn Between Mum and Husband

Photo: Matthias Mugisha/ New Vision
Princess Ruth Komuntale of Tooro kingdom and her American husband Christopher Thomas.

Grinning broadly in all his white wedding  finery, 'Duke' Christopher Amooti  Thomas, the African-American beau of Princess Ruth Nsemere Komuntale was resplendent. He was the epitome of Prince Charming.  The build up to the much hyped wedding could never have provided a perfect script for a happy and long lasting marriage.

For the thousands who witnessed the colourful ceremony at St. John's Cathedral in Fort Portal on November 17, 2012 it was a Cinderella story, where lots of romantic moments and chivalry were anticipated.  This had been accentuated by  Thomas gushing on about how he loved Komuntale at every media opportunity.

Hardly three months into the marriage, and  the Kampala Sun has exclusively learnt that whereas the Toro Royal family pulled off the spectacular wedding, the biggest hurdle they face is to salvage the young marriage which is suffering a strain already. Ruth Komuntale and "Duke"Christopher  Thomas are on very different pages lately.

However none of this comes as a surprise to some Kingdom insiders aware of palace affairs. "I am not shocked it has turned out that way. I had my reservations about this marriage in the first place; what is happening lately only justifies my earlier suspicions about him," the source, who was against Komuntale marrying outside the Kingdom, says.

According to them, the love, integrity and respect Christopher  Thomas promised  flew out of the window as long as the wedding fanfare died down and wedding clothes were taken to the dry cleaners. He is fast manifesting as a selfish, snobbish and money-hungry individual out to use the princess as leverage for  financial gain.

Before the wedding, the couple had a mutual agreement with a major local media player to use their wedding pictures, in a magazine, for a fee. On the morning of his wedding to the princess,  Thomas grew impatient about the impending transaction with the media house.

"At 7:00am on their wedding day while I was still sleeping, I received a call from him ( Thomas) demanding to know how much we were willing to pay for the pictures," the source recalls. "When I suggested to him that we post pone the discussion to a suitable date after his wedding day, he briskly replied 'let's  first get business out of the way'. I was in shock and went numb," she says.

After the church service, when the journalists were interviewing his new wife and mother-in-law,  Thomas walked away from the entourage and gaze of the media spotlight to place another phone call to the media house "He called back with a  figure. He wanted Sh25 million for the use of pictures," she says.  The source insisted that they weren't changing their position at which point  Thomas threatened: "We see our photos (in your magazine), we'll sue you," he concluded or so it seemed. Four days after their wedding, the couple visited the media house to resuscitate whatever was left of the deal.

The parties were locked in a heated haggling session where the team from the media house concluded that they weren't willing to pay  Thomas' asking price of sh25million for pictures that had exhaustively been published by the local press. Talks broke down. For him, the novelty of marrying an African Princess has not worn off him; he is more concerned about milking his status as the "Duke" rather than make the marriage with the Princess work out. He has failed to  figure out how to spend his life together with Komuntale under scrutiny.

In a dramatic incident that was akin to an episode from Jerry Springer,  Thomas was involved in an altercation with the guards at Oasis Mall.  The guards politely asked him and his wife to use the proper exit and entry points, but an angry  Thomas dashed out of the car, charged at the guards for what he interpreted as an act of insubordination by the people he looked at as subjects to his royal status, but most of all to Her Lady Princess Komuntale who was cosying up in the comfort of the car.

" The love, integrity and respect he promised her have gone through the window. He is selfish and conceited. He has brought anguish upon the princess. She is a loyal wife who wants things to work out but frustration has crept in the marriage," a source in the Toro royal family says. The claim seems to have been lent credence by the fact that Princess Komuntale was recently sighted at Legend's Bar (Lugogo) on a night out alone. She wasn't with her 'Duke' and appeared glum and hardly talked to anyone during her brief stay there.

Christopher rejects Apartment:

In media interviews prior to their wedding, Christopher Thomas explained that he was enthusiastic about setting up a home for Komuntale both in Fort Portal and in the USA. Perhaps goaded by the fact that this promise had taken long in coming, he took to social media recently to affirm the vow he made last year.

The 'Duke' apparently on honeymoon in Nairobi at the dawn of the New Year, reiterated these thoughts: "...Hey everyone long time no hear, If I didn't say Happy New Year, I am saying it now, been busy over here making sure the wifey will have a great home in two areas, be back again."

However, the source says most of those claims are  fragments of his fertile imagination as he has already caused the Queen Mother Best Kemigisha headache, over similar issues.  The source reveals that after the wedding, the Queen Mother secured for the couple an apartment in a leafy neighbourhood in town but Christopher  Thomas, acting like a spoilt child was hesitant. He insisted on living in the Munyonyo Palace, which affords them an archetypical regal life. The Queen Mother still  finances the couple's excursions and paid for their honeymoon. She is still in charge of their welfare.

"Queen Mother is definitely unhappy with the way it has panned out so far but she can't do much about it. She overly pampered him and she has to bear with his shortcomings. She doesn't have a lot of support on this and has chosen to bear the brunt alone. She is stuck with him and whatever happens she has to make it work," the source says.

Interestingly, some superstitious people within Toro kingdom believe the Queen Mother invited this upon herself when she performed a cardinal abomination. She attended the Kweranga (Traditional giveaway) and yet according to tradition, she wasn't supposed to attend. The Queen Mother has reportedly become a subject of ridicule among some affluent friends who secretly nurtured hopes of their own sons becoming Komuntale's suitors.

Where is Christopher's money?

During their early romance, Christopher  Thomas, a second born child of investment banker,  Thomas Senior was portrayed to local media as a wealthy young man. It was reported that his family owns a hefty fortune with investments worth billions of dollars in Missouri.

To profess his love as he struggled to pass Komuntale's eligibility test, Christopher  Thomas, who met Komuntale in Las Vegas, USA took her on lavish holidays. He reportedly proposed to her at the Eiffel Tower in Paris with an expensive engagement ring worth sh18m.

It was also reported that Komuntale was also the proud owner of a monster May Bach ride, estimated at sh900m thanks to Christopher  Thomas. As he etched in her heart, there was even talk that he would hire a private jet with over 50 people as part of his entourage during the formal introduction and wedding where he promised to inject over sh1 billion.

Fast forward. Only three people turned up for the wedding. Even then, this was after the wedding was postponed over unavailability of funds. It was the indefatigable Queen Mother who was pivotal in fundraisers that saw many kingdom faithfuls contribute to the success of the give-away function and the wedding. It was during such  financial hardships with many rhetoric questions being asked about the prospective in-law's  financial clout that Christopher 

Thomas was unveiled as a pay roll accountant who has been in and out of formal employment. His timeline shows he worked with Kastle Systems LLC (2006), Eagle Technologies (2008) and Discovery Channel, which he quit in 2009.

With or without the perceived  financial clout, another kingdom source however tells us that the Queen Mother's views on Christopher Thomas are  final and hard to change. "She views him as a young religious man who craves a normal life and respects Royal norms. What is happening to them happens to many young marriages.  The issue is being blown out of proportion by detractors," says a source.

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