HOW WE MET with KAPALA CHISUNKA, Lusaka
WHEN they first met in 1960, marriage was the last thing on the mind of the then 15-year-old Martha Mibenge Mhango. But for Steven Mhango, then 19, it was love at first sight. He saw what he wanted and was determined to make sure that they ended up together.
Mrs Mhango did not really like Mr Mhango when they met because he seemed to be extremely playful and liked to joke around but it was difficult to completely ignore him as they lived in the same neighbourhood.
â€œI used to see him in our neighbourhood riding his bicycle playfully attracting the attention of people and making jokes. I thought he was not a serious person, which I often said to him, when he began to take interest in me,â€ she said.
Mr Mhango remained persistent and insisted that he would eventually marry her when she was old enough.
Sometime later Mrs Mhango relocated but Mr Mhango continued visiting her. She began to grow fond of him and even longed for his visits although she remained unsure about marrying him.
â€œHe finally sat me down one day and told me how serious he was about marrying me and I realised he was being truthful, so I accepted his proposal and the traditional process for our marriage started,â€ Mrs Mhango shared.
The couple finally had a traditional wedding in 1962.
â€œWe had no wedding because at the time such celebrations were for people with a lot of money. I was simply taken to his house after all the formalities were completed,â€ she said.
But Mr Mhangoâ€™s new bride did not immediately move in with him because he was still stayingÂ in a simple quarters while working at the mines.
â€œMy father advised me to move into his cabin at the family house but I refused and instead applied for a bigger house in Kankoyo,â€ he said.
Although it was difficult to convince Mrs Mhango that he was serious about her in the early stages of their relationship, he is glad that she finally accepted his proposal.
â€œShe caught my eye the first time I saw her and I knew I couldnâ€™t let her go. She was a beautiful but feisty young woman who was not afraid to speak her mind. Even after all these years, she is still as beautiful as she was the first time I laid my eyes on her,â€ the smitten Mr Mhango said.
The couple, who have been married for 52 years, had nine children together though three have since died. They also have 20 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
â€œI used to jokingly tell her that I wanted to have 13 children but she wanted only four,â€ Mr Mhango said while lovingly holding her hand.
The secret to the blissful 52 years of marriage is love for each other, respect, tolerance and the fear of God.
As the 73-year-old Mr Mhango declared: â€œI love and respect my wife and she knows it. I think that the secret to our marriage is that we love and respect each other, no matter the circumstances we are going through. When you love yourself and you love your partner, it is easy to overcome challenges no matter what you might be going through.
I also love the fact that she is tolerant and always has been because I have had my short-comings,â€ he said.
Mrs Mhango, 69, chipped in: â€œI am a very tolerant person and I am not materialistic. As a wife, I have found these traits to be helpful in my marriage. I am content and always have been. I do not compare my husband to other peopleâ€™s husbands or want what other wives have. We have always lived within our means. We have loved each other, respected each other and respected our union.â€
She feels a major problem in marriages of todayâ€™s generation is that many people have become too materialistic and are not content with what they have.
Financial problems in a marriage if not carefully addressed can break up a family, according to Mrs Mhango.
â€œThings were difficult for us in the olden days, now it is all about material things and what your husband can buy for you. Women feel there is something wrong in their marriages if their husbands canâ€™t buy them the latest cars and other fancy things,â€ she said.
The coupleâ€™s advice to the younger generation is to love and respect their partners.
â€œMen must appreciate their wives and stop their eyes from wandering because there will always be women more beautiful than the one at home but love, respect and appreciate the one you chose to marry,â€ Mr Mhango insisted.
Even in our time, although the population was only about four million, there were beautiful women around, but I chose to stay faithful to one woman.â€
HOW WE MET with KAPALA CHISUNKA, Lusaka