Finally it has come. After months of speculation and tireless preparations, what will culminate into the long awaited grand royal wedding in the hills of Fort Portal on Saturday, starts this afternoon with princess Ruth Komuntale introducing her American beau, Christopher Thomas.
The traditional pre-marriage ceremony will take place at the home of her paternal uncle Charles Kamurasi.
The groom is not expected to pay any bride price since the princess is priceless.
The church marriage ceremony on Saturday is expected to be conducted by the Rwenzori Diocese Bishop Reuben Kisembo at St. John’s Cathedral, Harukoto in Fort Portal.
The bride is 23 years old and the groom is 30 years old. Komuntale is a graduate with a bachelor of arts degree in Strategic Public Relations from the American University Washington, DC.
Christopher Thomas, a young Missourian accountant with the Discovery Channel, fell in love with Ruth Nsemere Komuntale, a princess from the Ugandan kingdom of Toro, who was in America for her university studies.
At first, Thomas did not know what he was getting himself into. His overtures of affection were rejected twice by the princess.
“He tried twice, but I was not ready at the time. The third time he tried, I said, ‘yeah sure, we can date’. We knew each other for about three years, before we started dating. I liked his character and great personality. He is outgoing and we just get along,” says Princess Komuntale.
“Beautiful” is the first word that would cross anyone’s mind after setting their eyes on the princess. And Thomas could not agree more. “Well, you see how she looks; it is hard not to say she is beautiful,” says Thomas.
“I think that is usually the first thing you see in a person if you do not know anything about them. Then when you have a conversation, you look at other things,” adds Thomas.
It was in Washington DC on Komuntale’s birthday when Thomas proposed to the young princess at the Ruth’s Chris Steakout. And with him, he had a diamond ring.
“I thought about what Ruth likes. She likes bling-bling and I know she does not like the ordinary diamond ring. I knew she wanted something unique. I went to an expensive store, but I did that because you do not want to get it from anywhere,” says Thomas.
“I am creative and I help Ruth with a lot of things. I know her style and that is why we get along so well. I help her shop for dresses; she helps me shop for clothes. I help her shop for jewellery. So I just know what she likes,” he says.
A quick Internet browse reveals images of a cosy restaurant with a great ambience. It is also a place that goes by their names — Ruth and Chris.
About this, Komuntale says: “It was a surprise. I did not really expect it. We had been dating for a while and I did not want to be with anybody else. It was not hard to decide and I feel I am ready to take on marriage. Age is really just a number. It is all about the mind and I am definitely ready for it.”
Yet for all that time, Thomas did not know that Komuntale was a princess until after the engagement. “For the two years, I had no idea,” confesses Thomas. But afterwards, he got to know the royal family better and read the history of Uganda and that of Toro kingdom.
Princess Komuntale says she is reserved. “I am the type who is reserved and I like keeping things to myself, until I get to know the person. And then I kind of reveal myself,” she says.
Thanks to Google, Thomas found out about Toro kingdom. “I know Toro is green. I know the people — the men and women are the kindest people in Uganda. Everybody has good manners and they take culture very seriously,” he says.
He has also known a kingdom where King Oyo, the Queen Mother and Princess Komuntale are respected. He says he has already been welcomed with hugs and respect.
“I also heard that you can grow anything there. I have seeds in my pocket,” he says before bursting out with his characteristic hearty laugh.
Thomas has since learnt what awaits him. African weddings, especially royal weddings, are massive affairs that involve hundreds of guests and are bigger than Greek weddings.
“First, I thought Ruth and I would have a nice small wedding and it would be between us and our families. Then I got to learn more about the culture and knew it would be a little more different than that,” he says.
Thomas also looked at photos of King Oyo Nyimba’s public events and saw the mammoth crowds that always turn up.
“If his events are like that, then I am pretty sure her events are pretty big also,” he remarks. Princess Komuntale too had envisioned a small wedding with her family and close friends in attendance. But she expects a big event with many people since she is conversant with the Toro tradition.
“I always loved small weddings, but things changed,” she says. In the US, the princess has been working with City Gate, an afterschool programme supporting youth and adults.
Having come from America, Thomas is on a journey of culinary discovery in Uganda. From Starbucks Coffee, he is adjusting to taking tea, which is widely grown in Toro region.
Also, his taste buds are adjusting to millet bread and the traditional Toro soups. “I love goat’s meat and vegetables. I have also tasted millet bread and it is a little different and its Ruth’s favourite,” Thomas says.
“Ruth says I might get a little big and she says she is going to make me exercise. We wake up and run, go up the hill, run around and swim. In DC, we swim together, work out together and are active people. We wake up early and no one gets to see us,” he jokes.
Marr ied life
The Princess has nervous excitement about married life. “It is going to be a new life obviously. I place everything in God’s hands and pray for the best. I will always be there to support the king and our mother,” she says.
To Thomas, his charming fiancée was a normal person when they met and does not think anything is going to change after the wedding. But should life change, Thomas says he will ‘roll with the punches.’
Thoma’s family arrives in Uganda this week ahead of the wedding. After the wedding, Princess Komuntale will launch a perfume to her name — Princess K — but she prefers to keep details of the launch under wraps until the right moment.
“More will be revealed later. But it is to promote Uganda because I come from here. It is also to empower women and the youth and show that as long as you set your mind to omething, you can achieve it. It does not matter how old you are. You can reach your goals as long as you keep your mind to it,” she says.
Thomas confesses his love for diverse cultures. He has also served in the US military before, and was posted to different places, including Saudi Arabia, Ireland and Turkey — where he was exposed to different cultures and prepared him for his coming to Africa.
“I had not experienced Africa though. It is different than I expected. It is very wonderful here,” he says. Thomas also awaits King Oyo to perform a ceremony and give him a suitable pet name in line with the Toro culture.
On the responsibilities and rituals that come with marrying an African princess, Thomas says:
“It is kind of hard to explain something you have never been through. Will I be happy? Yes. Will I be seeing so much? I might be jumping out of my skin, but I won’t even show you. I will probably be smiling and keeping cool.”
New Vision online will bring you sensational pictorials of the introduction ceremony starting shortly and the grand wedding on Saturday.