HOW WE MET with MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka
THEY met by chance in 1995 when Richard Zulu went to visit his brother-in-law in Lusakaâ€™s Kuku township. Richard was completely taken by the beautiful young Josephine Zulu who happened to be his brother-in-lawâ€™s neighbour.
Richard, 48, confidently thought it could be easy to convince Josephine to be his wife seeing the two families were cordial but that was not the case.
â€œI was taken by her beauty. She was not only physically beautiful, she was also humble. I knew I wanted more; I wanted to have a relationship with her. Obviously, I did not tell her about my intentions the first time we spoke because I wanted us to build a friendship,â€ he said.
After that weekend, Richard and Josephine, 41, became friends and later, their friendship developed into a relationship. But that relationship did not entirely have the blessing of Josephineâ€™s aunt, who was her guardian at the time.
â€œHer aunt and my brother-in-law were neighbours; so, discovering about our love relationship did not please her at all. The first time she approached me was with a warning to stay away from Josephine. I didnâ€™t take her warning seriously so we continued with the relationship,â€ Richard said.
After noticing that the relationship was going strong between her niece and Richard, Josephineâ€™s aunt made it a habit to insult and unleash disparaging remarks on Richard in a bid to discourage him from continuing with the relationship but that too did not work.
â€œThe relationship between my brother-in-law and Josephineâ€™s aunt went sour to an extent that they decided to relocate to separate us. Her auntâ€™s plan was to find Josephine another man to marry her because she did not approve of me dating her,â€ he said.
During the brief separation, Richard said Josephineâ€™s aunt found a man to marry Josephine. Fortunately for him, Josephine did not like the man and decided to run back to Richard so the two could rekindle their relationship.
Sceptical about her return, Richard nonetheless decided to welcome her into his home after hearing her story on why she had run away from her aunt. The two started cohabiting.
â€œWe dated for four months before we started cohabiting. And the only reason we started was because of the circumstances that Josephine found herself in. Besides that, we loved each other but we knew it was wrong and we needed to do the right thing,â€ he said.
After three years of cohabiting, Richard decided to do the right thing and approached his family so that they could formally ask for Josephineâ€™s hand in marriage and forgiveness. Unfortunately, her aunt refused to accept the proposal.
â€œI was not discouraged because I knew I had to do the right thing. So I went to Josephineâ€™s village to meet her grandparents because she an orphan. They accepted me and my family and our marriage was formalised. We got married traditionally in 1998,â€ he said.
Now 18 years later with five children, Richard does not regret his decision of marrying and choosing Josephine as a life partner.
Richard, who described his marriage as a blessing, said Josephine has been his rock. He said Josephine has been a caring mother, wife and best friend. He said his wife is understanding, and kind-hearted.
â€œDuring the time my mother was ill, Josephine was the only person who helped me care for her. My own family rejected me. It was an extremely difficult time for me but my wife stood by me and treated my mother like her own. That experience brought us closer.
â€œMy wife and I have been through many ups and downs even after that experience but I thank God that we have gone through all these situations together,â€ he said.
Richard advised people that are not married to take their time when looking for a partner as marriage is a life commitment. Richard, a carpenter and runs his carpentry workshop at his house said money should never be the reason for marrying someone.
And Josephine said Richard provided the security and stability that she needed in her life.
She said he was humble and hard-working, adding that he also treated her with respect.
â€œI fell in love with him because of how he treated me and made me feel. He respected, cared and was always protective of me. I did not care about how much money he had then because I knew he had potential and that he was capable of providing for me. Thatâ€™s what I cared about; the way he treated me. That is why I agreed to get married to him,â€ she said.
Josephine said she had also found a best friend and confidant in Richard as she felt she could discuss anything with him.
She said even though they never followed the normal channel when getting married, the two have managed to build a happy home together.
Her advice to couples intending to marry or those in courtship is, â€œMarriage is not a guarantee of living a better life. Marriage comes with a lot of problems and challenges. As couples, you must be prepared to face these challenges together as partners. It is important to love and respect each other.â€
Josephine said the couple has managed to raise their children Christine, Mike, Richard, Esneya and Natasha in a good home.
HOW WE MET with MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka