How we met:
YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka
THE famous adage ‘love is blind’ has gained more meaning for Kayumba Mpwampu and Phoebe Kamanga, a newlywed couple of Kabwata in Lusaka.
Kayumba has been blind since he was a year old, after he developed ocular cancer and doctors had to remove both his eyes.
The 30-year-old teacher of history and civic education at Kamwala Secondary School, met his future wife at Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka in 2016.
Although Kayumba could not appreciate Phoebe’s physical beauty by sight, he knew there was something special about her.
“You do not necessarily have to appreciate beauty by sight. Beauty is something that one can appreciate by physical touch, but going beyond that, inner beauty carries more weight than physical appearance.
“Proverbs 31:30 says, charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Further 1 Peter 3:4, states ‘Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty. That’s a beauty that won’t fade with age, a beauty that is of great value to God.’ When you have that in somebody then you are good to go. I obviously know that Phoebe is a beautiful woman although I cannot see her,” Kayumba says.
He recollects how the couple’s courtship developed smoothly as they both knew there was something special about their bond.
Kayumba and Phoebe also had a lot in common. They both love music and sung in their church choirs.
“I am the chairperson of the youth ministry at Emmasdale Baptist church. And so, after I made a presentation at the youth conference which was hosted at Kabwata Baptist Church, she approached me during tea break and the first question she asked me was if I attended church at Emmasdale and I responded in the affirmative. She further asked if I knew her older brother by the name of Obvious Kamanga and I said yes. We got talking and exchanged phone numbers,” says Kayumba.
He was attracted to Phoebe because she did not consider him as a case to be sympathised with because of his disability.
“My father told me never to date a girl out of sympathy because they knew my potential. But of course, the fact that I am visually impaired means I need assistive technology to compete favourably, but this does not make me a different human being,” says Kayumba.
He was also attracted to Phoebe because of her hard work and strong character.
“I knew there was something special for me in her. Let’s face it, some women would find a guy who is always talking about theology and philosophy boring, but the fact that she appreciated my intellectual capacity meant I had found someone special,” he explains.
Phoebe, 30, says Kayumba’s intellectual ability and love for God is what swept her off her feet.
“He is just too intelligent and that wowed me,” she says, sitting next to him.
“After he made a presentation at the youth conference which attracted over 300 participants, he is the only one who swiftly responded to follow-up questions. So, I got very interested to get to know him,” says Phoebe, who is an animal technician.
The couple’s first date was at Wimpy restaurant, which was Kayumba’s favourite spot for cappuccino.
But Kayumba had to seek permission from Phoebe’s parents first.
“I learnt to do that (asking for permission) every time I took Phoebe out on a date. I believe if you are doing the right thing, there is no need to hide,” Kayumba says.
The couple met several more times at the same spot during their courtship.
“Wimpy restaurant became our ‘sitting room’. I was taking my cappuccino and she was taking her favourite cocktail and that is where it all happened. I told her the best marriages are from friends, and that I wanted us to take our relationship to the next level,” he says.
However, Kayumba and Phoebe’s courtship was not without hurdles.
Some people occasionally mocked their relationship because of Kuyumba’s disability.
This usually irritated Phoebe and she would lash-out at the mockers.
“People would really say bad things about us while others would stare at us really hard, but I am glad the man I have is just loving and understanding. He taught me to control my temper,” says Phoebe.
Kayumba says society should begin to treat people with disabilities like any other normal human being.
“It is a common belief that when you have a disability then somehow, you are either more or less human. Of course, there is something different but it is not something that makes you less or anymore human.
“People need to come out of these stereotype thoughts and I think it should begin from home. When some parents have a child with a disability, most often, they wonder what they are going to do with the child. But I was privileged to have parents who treated me like any other child. They invested heavily in my education and I am a graduate of the University of Zambia, but still, people have that stereotype against me,” says Kayumba.
He regrets that some people perceive blind people as worthless.
“The fact that you see one blind person begging on the street does not mean everyone in that condition is a beggar.
“It is wrong but at the same time, I think people need to be educated and that is the reason I personally do not take offence at a person who does that to me for the first time. I belong to a group called Positive Movement and one of the things we try to advocate for is inclusivity,” he says.
Notwithstanding these challenges, Kayumba eventually got to a point where he told Phoebe: “You are one of those people who have ‘ticked all the boxes’ for me and I am in love with you.”
Phoebe says Kayumba did not really pop the question to her, but everything just fell into place.
She says her family did not object to the relationship, but a few of her friends had misgivings.
“But I was determined to spend the rest of my life with him,” she says.
When the couple got married about three weeks ago, social media had a feast on their leaked wedding photos, with some people questioning their union.
Phoebe says she cried after reading some of the comments, but her husband consoled her, telling her to not to mind about them.
“They don’t know what we have,” he told her.
Kayumba and Phoebe believe their bond is unbreakable as it is built on true friendship.
Kayumba plans to go back to university and do his masters and PhD and do more work for God.
The couple also hopes to settle on a farm someday.
Phoebe says the couple’s Christian values remain cardinal to a happily ever-after.
How we met: