Ibanda — On Saturday, the young and old filled St Paul Cathedral in Ibanda Municipality for a thanksgiving service for a man who has been on earth for 106 years and married for 66 years.
Mr Samwiri Bishaka, a retired teacher, and his wife Naome Bishaka have been married for more years than Ugandan civil servants take to retire.
They have lived up to their vow they took in 1953 when they walked down the aisle and took matrimonial oath to be together till "death do us part".
Mr Bishaka, a lay canon in the Anglican Church, was born in 1915 in current day Ibanda District. He celebrated his 104th birthday and 66th marriage anniversary on Saturday at St Paul's Cathedral of North West Ankole Diocese in Ibanda District at a memorable service graced by current and retired bishops; Amos Magezi of North West Ankole, Sheldon Mwesigwa of Ankole Diocese, John Muhanguzi (retired) of North Ankole Diocese and George Tibesigwa (retired) of Ankole Diocese.
Mr Bishaka says his parents gave birth to only five boys. When his father and elder brothers died, he was left under the care of his mother.
"My mother laboured hard and raised school fees and educated me from Primary One to Nyakasura Teachers College in Kabarole District. I graduated as a teacher," Mr Bishaka says.
He adds: "My mother built a small grass-thatched hut and whenever it rained, the hut would leak."
The East African Anglican Barokole Revival (Okujunwa) was introduced in January 1936 and Mr Bishaka got saved in 1942 at St James Cathedral at Ruharo in Mbarara District.
A youthful teacher at that time, Mr Bishaka had just completed his studies at Nyakasura Teachers College and had been posted to teach in Ankole. He married his wife Naome in 1953 and they have four children -- two boys and two girls, all still alive. Ms Naome says she joined secondary school and also graduated as a teacher from Buloba Teachers College in Gayaza.
"I wanted a partner because I was a pillar, beautiful, educated and a daughter of a county chief of Ankole, who had started developments," Ms Naome narrates.
Their vivid memories of their wedding day have defied age and vindicated their outstanding resilience and intelligence.
The couple reflects on the challenges they have encountered in life but attribute their success and longevity in marriage to honesty and undying love for each other.
They exude entrenched love that very few or no other couple can boast of. They address each other as "sweet darling". They sit on the same table for meals and pray.
However, they agree that the 66 years of marriage have not been a bed of roses. The couple admits they have had ups and downs, twists and turns along the way, just like any other couples, but that "love and trust in the Lord" has been the difference between them and the rest.
"We got misunderstandings. But in all this, forgiveness, patience and above all prayers have kept us together," Mr Bishaka says.
He recalls the joy of the wedding day at St James Cathedral Ruharo in Mbarara in 1953.
"We travelled in a Rolls Royce car and our convoy comprised 20 cars, with a lorry full of gifts, some of which we still have up to now," Mr Bishaka says.
"I gave my wife freedom to remain in her profession of teaching. She continued teaching at Mbarara Girls Primary School and was later transferred to Bweranyangi Girls Senior Secondary School in Bushenyi District. We have retired from teaching and we are living together at Bubaare Hill in Ibanda Municipality," he says.