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FOR Chisopa Chikokola Chilambwe, being in a foreign country presented a number of challenges when it came to finding love, so she kept her guard.But Mutale Martin Chilambwe chose to be a ‘risk taker’ and opted to try his luck with Chisopa when he met her at a restaurant in Cape Town, South Africa.
The South African based Zambian couple met in 2013 at Tokyo Zero, a restaurant in Cape Town, where their mutual friend worked.
For Mutale, it seemed to have been love at first sight but that was not the case for his love interest.
“I managed to get her number from our mutual friend. But my attempts to talk to her failed. I tried to talk to her for three to four months but she was simply not interested. However, I persisted because I knew I had found the one I had been looking for,” Mutale says.
Fortunately for him, his patience and perseverance paid off when Chisopa eventually warmed up to him and the two started conversing on a regular basis.
That was how the two started a relationship.
“Besides her physical beauty, I liked her attitude. As the relationship progressed, I discovered more traits about her character that I grew to appreciate in her as a partner. She would always encourage me and she would always lift me up when I am down,” he says.
However, despite being serious and wanting their relationship to move to the next level, Mutale says he was scared of proposing marriage.
The couple dated from 2013 to September 2016, when Mutale eventually gathered enough courage to propose to Chisopa. And luckily for him, she accepted to marry him.
The challenge the couple faced was finding time to come back to Zambia and initiate the marriage process because of being based in South Africa.
This was especially challenging for Mutale, who even failed to travel back for the introduction to start the process because of his work schedule.
He asked his uncle to stand in for him.
But despite having finalised all marriage formalities, preparations for the wedding were also delayed for more than a year.
Mutale says preparations for the wedding, including Chilanga Mulilo and a bridal shower only started in January 2018. Fortunately, the couple, with assistance from family and close friends, managed to host all the events successfully.
They tied the knot in Lusaka on July 28, 2018.
Though their matrimonial journey has just started, Mutale says he is looking forward to a lifetime of marital bliss with his wife.
His wife Chisopa echoes his sentiments. This is despite her earlier perceptions about dating a Zambian in a foreign country.
“When you are in a foreign country, men like to use women then dump them when they are done and that was not what I wanted for myself. I knew that from experience and seeing it for myself,” she says.
Chisopa says Mutale was persistent and continually kept calling her. She says she hoped he would eventually stop bothering her with his calls by being dismissive and uninterested but was shocked that despite the attitude she gave him, he persevered.
“Slowly, I began to realise he was different. He seemed genuinely interested in getting to know me,” she says.
Fortunately for Mutale, Chisopa’s friend also noticed his behaviour towards their friend and started encouraging her to give him a chance but they did not really have to convince her because by then her heart had also started warming up to him.
“There’s a lot to love about him. He is a good man with a big heart. He is kind and generous. He is loving, caring, gentle and always jovial. He also sees the positive in whatever situation. He does not panic,” she says with a smile.
She says the four years that they courted has also helped cement their friendship and know each other as they embark on another level of friendship now that they are married.
“The same things that I loved about him when we started dating are still the same things that I love about him now,” she says.
Chisopa, who has acknowledged that marriage is a different ball game from courtship, says the pre-marital counselling that the couple underwent helped prepare them on what to expect in marriage.
“We underwent both traditional and Christian pre-marital counselling and that has helped prepare us on what to expect. But I think there are certain things we learn about our partners even before we get married,” she says.
She says respect, knowing boundaries, communication and trust are important ingredients in any relationship.
Chisopa’s advice to those in courtship is that they should not ignore the role that pre-marital counselling plays in preparing a couple for marriage.
“One thing I have learnt in my relationship with my husband is that we are the most important people in this relationship. Everyone else is an outsider and so we cannot allow other people to influence us. No matter what they say about us, as long as we are happy with each other, that is all that matters,” she says.
And Mutale’s advice to other couples is to never stop appreciating and loving each other.
“In a relationship, one needs to be patient like a farmer to reap your harvest. You also need to stay committed to each other, love each other no matter what,” he says.
How we met: