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Glamour, pomp and colour on show

Ramaphosa son marries Amama Mbabazi’s niece

Kampala, Uganda | RONALD MUSOKE | Glamour, pomp, colour and a seamless fusion of two African traditions were on show as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s son, Andile, got introduced by his Ugandan fiancée, Bridget Birungi, at a traditional marriage ceremony known as “Kuhingira” on Aug.4 in Kampala.

The ceremony attended by high-profile guests was held at the residence of the bride’s uncle, John Patrick Amama Mbabazi, a former Prime Minister of Uganda in the leafy upscale Kololo suburb.

Birungi was born to the late Shadrack Rwakairu and Peace Ruhindi but Amama took over the raising of Birungi after her father’s death in the early 1980s.

Political rivalries were shoved aside as President Yoweri Museveni and his long-term friend-cum-political rival; Amama Mbabazi met and reminisced about the good times.

Museveni’s wife, Janet and Mbabazi sat next to each other and chatted away as the ceremony went on, occasionally smiling and nodding.

The guest list read like a “who is who” of Uganda’s political aristocracy. Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, the Bank of Uganda Governor, Chief Justice Bart Katureebe and former information minister, Jim Muhwezi, as well as business moguls, Gordon Wavamunno and Sudhir Ruparelia, were some of the guests.

Other high-profile dignitaries included; the Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, Prince Kassim Nakibinge, businessman Martin Aliker, former FDC President Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu and Buganda Katikkiro, Charles Peter Mayiga.

Amos Nzeyi, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, Mathew Rukikaire, Hope Mwesigye and Brig. Timothy Mutebile, the brother to the BoU Governor were part of the insiders organizing the function.

Not even the early morning gloomy weather could dampen the thrilling ceremony which normally precedes the wedding in western Ugandan tradition.

As the day grew on and the overcast clouds cleared, business and public transport got interrupted, security tightened and some roads were closed as a 150 strong Ramaphosa-led entourage and host, President Yoweri Museveni, made way to Amama Mbabazi’s home to attend the traditional ceremony. Ex-wife, Hope and First Lady, Dr. Tshepo Ramaphosa, escorted the South African president.

Ramaphosa’s son, Andile, had been to Mbabazi’s home in May this year when Bridget introduced him for the first time. But that ceremony is usually low key as it only serves to make the man’s intentions known to the girl’s parents. That ceremony also gives both families to negotiate the bride price.

This time round, it became clear Ramaphosa’s entourage had finally been accepted into the Mbabazi household, when the leader of their entourage, a middle-aged lady was offered a drink. She had a gulp of the traditional beer served from a long-necked gourd as a cacophony of drums, traditional music and the vigorous Kigezi dance engulfed the home.

Andile and Bridget, both in their late thirties, reportedly met in China while studying at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Andile currently works with Blue Crane, a Johannesburg-based financial advisory and investment firm.

“We met almost ten years ago. I was in Beijing where I worked as an expert while she was finishing her studies in engineering. Then she went on to do her Masters. We went on to live in South Africa.,” said Andile.

Mbabazi who handed over Birungi to the father of the groom, expressed joy that Ramaphosa’s family had met all the set conditions.

“We are very happy to fulfill part of the handing over to you the hand of our daughter, Bridget Birungi,” Mbabazi said.

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