HOW WE MET with YANDE SYAMPEYO, Siavonga
ALTHOUGH tradition permits Lovemore Kanyama to marry more than one wife, he is content with the love of his life, Mary Mbewe.
Lovemore, who is the district commissioner for Siavonga, cherishes Mary, his wife of 23 years, and as far as he is concerned, only death can separate them.
“In our tradition as Tonga men, we are allowed to marry more than one wife but I’m content with Mary, my tumbuka woman. I do not believe in marrying another woman.
“I’m happy with my marriage and I certainly do not believe in having more than one partner,” Lovemore says.
The district commissioner, who was attracted by his better half’s beauty and reputable family background, did not easily win her love as she ‘played hard to get’ coupled with resistance from her mother.
Lovemore, who was born in 1969, in Ng’ombe Illede area of Siavonga district, met Mary in Lusaka’s New Kamwala in 1992, during the time he worked for Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS) as a technician.
The ‘lover man’, who lived with his brother, spotted Mary in the neighbourhood and made several advances towards her but his efforts initially failed. She was not interested in him.
“When I came to Lusaka in 1992, I met this beautiful lady. I used to admire her as she passed by the neighbourhood on her way to school and I started pursuing her. Initially, there was resistance but I fought for her love and eventually, she gave in and we began to ‘speak the same language’,” he recalls.
Mary, who was 18 years old at the time and was taking a course in tailoring and design at Makeni Ecumenical, recalls how she felt bothered by Lovemore’s advances.
“Lovemore would approach me on my way to school and would visit me at home but I was just not into him. I was not interested in talking to him, let alone seeing him,” she recollects.
However, Mary, who was born in Lundazi in1974, came around and became attracted to Lovemore for his swag and mesmerising talk.
“I loved the way he looked in a pair of shorts and whenever I saw him, I knew he was my man’. I was also attracted to the way he talks,” she recalls.
When Mary agreed to date Lovemore, he resolved to sponsor her tertiary education until she graduated.
However, the couple’s journey into matrimony was rugged because Mary’s mother was against the relationship.
Mary’s mother felt her daughter was young and needed to concentrate on school.
“My mother told me to continue with school and stop dating men. But after some time, she accepted Lovemore,” Mary says.
Lovemore, recalls his intensified determination to marry his soul-mate despite resistance from her mother.
“She once discovered some pictures of me and Mary and she was against the relationship. However, I continued pursuing my gut feeling. I visited Mary at home until my mother in-law gave up and welcomed me in the family,” he recalls.
Lovemore, who worked for ZANIS for four years and later joined politics, married Mary in October, 1994 and the couple is blessed with five children, namely Kingsely, Lovemore, Tina, Nchimunya and Kakuba
Although the couple describes their marriage journey as good and smooth, it is not short of challenges.
Lovemore recalls how his wife was initially jittery when he interacted with other women during his political career.
He says his association with women was a thorny issue and did not go down well with Mary and it led to the destabilisation of peace in the union.
“As a politician, I interacted with a number of people, including women, and Mary was not comfortable with that stance.
“You know women, whenever they see a man talking to another woman, it became an issue. She was so jealous,” he says.
For Mary, who refers to Lovemore as a friend, brother and father, says it is normal for women to be uneasy when the partner is with other women.
“I didn’t trust him much and any woman would agree with me that when you see your man with photographs and messages from other women, you become insecure,” she says.
After realising the situation was getting out of hand, the couple went in search of interventions from pastors at AGADI ministries, who counselled them.
Mrs Kanyama was advised to be tolerant and accept the ‘perceived challenges’ that come with the job of politicians.
Lovemore says marriage, which is a life-time commitment, should only be for couples who are ready to manage shortcomings in an amicable manner.
He says violence should never be an option whenever differences arise but that love, understanding and respect should prevail.
“When you pay dowry as a man, it does not entail you own the woman and you can abuse her. Dowry is just a token of appreciation to the woman’s family.
“When you have challenges in marriage, sit down and dialogue to resolve the differences. Violence should never be the solution,” he says.
Lovemore wants men to respect their wives, support their family and most importantly be prayerful as this will foster bonding.
“I appeal to fellow men to take care of their wives by supporting them. When you marry a woman, she becomes your mother and family,” he says.
The district commissioner also advises couples to manage their finances together to rule out suspicions and always seek to support their in-laws.
Lovemore also has some advice for married women; to continue attracting their husbands by maintaining their looks and taking good care of the family.
“For women who are financially stable they should support their husbands, my appeal is to remain loyal, respect your spouse and support him in any way possible.
“This also goes to the men who have capacity to empower their wives to do so. Moreover, whatever success you accrue will be for the benefit of the entire family,” Lovemore says.
For Mary, she believes couples should avoid exposing their differences to the public as it is a recipe for disorder.
She says trust and understanding are cardinal in every marriage while dialogue is key to conflict resolution.
“It is not always necessary to run to family and or friends whenever you face a challenge in your home. Always strive to dialogue with your partner and I have found that to be very helpful,” she says.
She advises women seeking marriage and or already in the union to be submissive and love their partners unconditionally.
“Do not always look at a man for his riches as material things vanish, rather place love and respect at the centre of your marriage,” she says.
Mary, who is a housewife, does not regret marrying Lovemore and given a chance to go back into time, she would still choose him as her lifetime partner.