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Love at first glance

ONE glance at her during a church function, Gervase Phiri was convinced he was looking at his future wife.
That was back in 1967 in Kalingalinga, Lusaka.
Fifty-one years later, Gervase and Agatha Banda are still married and still enjoying their union.
Gervase says when he first saw Agatha, he kept looking at her because she appeared splendid to his eyes.
At the end of the function, Gervase approached Agatha and enquired about her background.
Gervase found out that Agatha worked in an office a few blocks from where he worked.
“I was working for Ministry of Finance as a civil servant while Agatha was working for Establishment Division, which was based at Kent building currently housing Immigration headquarters,” Gervase says.
As time went on, Gervase and Agatha started going for lunch together during work days and this marked the beginning of their relationship.
When the pair knocked off, Gervase would walk Agatha to Kalingalinga and make it back to Kamwala where he lived with his older brother.
During the course of their interaction, Gervase’s interest for Agatha grew stronger and the two went into an intimate relationship.
On weekends, the pair met at youth church functions in Kalingalinga.
Gervase, however, on several occasions tried to invite Agatha to his older brother’s house but she refused.
“Agatha was always against my suggestions to take her out for a movie or lunch. I tried by all means but to no avail,” he says.
Gervase later told his brother that he had found a woman to marry and asked him to visit Agatha’s family on his behalf.
He also confided in his closest friend, Edward Banda, a workmate, and asked him to keep an eye on her.
But when Gervase’s brother visited Agatha’s family, he was welcomed by a series of interviews.
He says Agatha’s family enquired about his (Gervase’s) family health record, background, criminal records, drinking recording and many other questions.
Gervase says Agatha’s family tasked some people to investigate his way of life to be sure he was a genuine young man.
After this rigorous process, the couple completed their preparations and wed on January 21, 1968.
The couple clocked 51 years of marriage on January 21 this year.
In the course of his marriage, Gervase says the couple has always depended on God.
“We have seen the hand of God in our marriage. Of course, we experience minor challenges but we always forgive each other,” he says.
Gervase says communication has played a vital role in cementing their union.
He says communication is necessary in every marriage because it helps the couple to understand each other better.
Gervase has observed that most of the marriages fail because of negative Western influence.
He says people have buried cultural values to copy everything they see on social media.
“Westernisation has brought more harm than good to our marriages. We have to embrace our culture if we are to safeguard our marriages from collapsing,” Gervase says.
He advises young couples to take more time to carry out independent investigations before they plan on going into marriage.
Gervase says it is important to know more about one’s family background, tradition and culture before committing to them.
And Agatha, on the other hand, was not moved when Gervase approached her to suggest a relationship.
She says her primary focus was to become a better person in life and rise through the ranks in her career.
“There was never a time in my teenage life when I thought that I would get married one day and start a home with someone. Even when Gervase came, I did not take him serious,” Agatha says.
She says it was common to see her friends get into relationships but it did not register to her that she would go into a relationship.
Agatha says she considered going into a relationship after a series of counselling and advice from her friends.
She says she was against visiting Gervase’s place or going out for lunch with him because her parents could not allow her to mingle with a male person.
Agatha says her parents were so strict that she was expected to reach home at 17:15 hours.
She says even escorting her friends when they went to visit her was difficult as she was not allowed to move out of the house, especially on weekends.
Agatha says she has learnt the value of forgiveness in the 51 years of her marriage.
“I always humble myself and ask for forgiveness when we quarrel. I learnt that one has to be lower than the other to resolve misunderstandings in a home,” she says.
Agatha says the couple also looks up to God for strengthen and guidance when they faced a challenge.
She says good communication should be encouraged in a marriage because it strengthens the union.
Agatha has advised young ladies to get marry men because of genuine love and not for material things.
She says people in marriage should start from the scratch together for their marriage to be strong.
The couple has seven children and 13 grandchildren.