How We Met, SYLVESTER CHISHIMBA, Lusaka
AFTER losing her Ghanaian husband of 16 years, finding love again was the last thing on Margaret Namukondoâ€™s mind.
Left with five children, her priority was their well-being and not finding a man. Fate had other plans. It was during the time she was grieving that she met Finbar Oâ€™Brien in Kasama in 1980; a man who eventually ended up as her second husband.
â€œI was still grieving the death of my husband when I met Oâ€™Brien a year later. And even then, love was not on my mind. We met through a mutual friend but we struck a friendship almost instantly. He is a very caring man,â€ she said.
Being widowed at a young age, Margaret who struggled financially to provide for her children single-handedly found solace in Oâ€™Brien who was always willing to lend a helping a hand.
A year into their friendship, Oâ€™Brien proposed marriage but she turned him down because apart from still mourning her late husband, she also had a sick child to take care of.
â€œAt the time he decided to propose marriage, I had not even been traditionally cleansed so it was not an appropriate time for me. I had a lot of things to deal with in my life. In fact, I thought he was not serious with settling down that is why I thought friendship was far much better,â€ she said.
Their friendship continued for nine years even though Oâ€™Brien had travelled back to Ireland. They remained in contact.
â€œIn the nine years we were friends, we were platonic. But he was interested in my life and my childrenâ€™s well-being. He later travelled to Ghana and while there visited my children. He also invited me to follow him so that I can see my children,â€ she said.
Margaret said in Ghana Oâ€™Brien proposed marriage again but she explained to him that she was too old to have any more children.
â€œHe proposed and told me I was the reason he had travelled to Ghana. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. But he told me that my children are his children, he said he wanted to take care of me. I also wanted him and wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.
He was loving and he had proved to be a gentleman in the nine years we had known each other. He was also a very patient man. So I accepted,â€ she said.
In 2006, the two started courting and wedded a year later in Kasama where they first met. They have been married for nine years.
â€œDuring courtship, on many occasions we would go out to eat and when Oâ€™Brien drove me home he never kissed or hugged me. I never even visited him at his place because it was not right for a lady to visit a single man at his place.
But I was attracted to him. He is kind hearted, genuine and his willingness to know my children and make them a part of his life. These signs proved to me that Oâ€™Brien would make a good husband for me,â€ she said.
And Oâ€™Brien said for him, it was love at first sight. He said he fell in love with her personality.
â€œWhen I was looking for a woman to marry, her character was important to me. And I found what I wanted in a woman in Margaret. We had known each other for nine years and I knew she was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with,â€ he said.
Oâ€™Brien said he was not discouraged when Margaret turned down his proposal the first time because he understood that she was still mourning the death of her husband.
â€œThis gave us time to know each other well and gave me enough time to be certain she was a woman of good character. The time we spent together drew me closer to her. I grew fond of her and wanted to spend more time with her,â€ he said.
He said it was not difficult for him to convince his family that he had found a woman he wanted to marry because she made him happy and they could see it. He said being married to Margaret has been the best years of his life.
Oâ€™Brien who is the current Irish Ambassador to Zambia said to keep the â€˜fire burningâ€™ in their marriage; the couple enjoys engaging in activities together. They love gardening, travelling and farming.
â€œHe said he loves the fact that they have managed to blend although they are from two difficult cultures.
â€œIt is very important for couples planning to get married or dating to know each other well by creating a friendship that would last and build a strong bond between them,â€ he said.
How We Met, SYLVESTER CHISHIMBA, Lusaka