Joseph Zirimwabagabo has been married to Sifora Mukaferesi since September 13th, 1950 and they celebrated their 60 years of love story at Gacuriro together with their children, grand and great grandchildren on September 12th,2010.
With just a two-year difference between the couple their love grew stronger based on respect for one another. Joseph Zirimwabagabo was born on February 28th, 1930 while the wife in 1932.
In 1945, Zirimwabagabo taught Mukaferesi in Primary one at Rwankeri Primary School being the first time they met. However, there was no spark at that time and Mukaferesi could not continue with school because the girl’s dormitory was closed after their European Matron was killed in a motor vehicle accident.
As it’s was the custom in the traditional setting, to marry someone, one had to do background checkup before they got involved or even met in person. Therefore the same transpired in Zirimwabagabo and Mukaferesi’s case.
Anastasie Mukarwego, Mukaferesi‘s eldest sister was Zirimwabagabo’s classmate from primary one to primary six, so Mukarwego got married to Geredi Mbonibihama a good friend of Zirimwabagabo who advised him to start dating Mukaferesi, therefore in the Kinyarwanda saying Mbonibihama became the ‘Umuranga’ meaning ‘ the match maker’.
In an interview, when the couple was asked how they have managed to keep their relationship glowing, they had great lessons for the married fraternity.
“We have been able to maintain the glow of our love because promised each other never to break our marriage vows,” Zirimwabagabo joyfully explains
“Marriage is based on so many things, but respect for one another is one of the principles that should always be apprehended. Even at this age I still respect my husband, although we have helpers, when my he wants me to do something to do yet I can’t do it, I humbly inform him that that due to some reasons for instance, I’ m sick so my dear I wont be able to do what you’re asking me to do. Since he is compassionate, he will understand,” Mukaferesi greatly stressed.
She said: “Given our culture and what I was taught while growing up, I was told to always respect my husband unlike today where woman emancipation has taken its course and women think they are equal to men hence the man shouldn’t order her around. When wife is told to do something, she has to be obedient while performing her role.”
Regarding the issue of the high rate of divorce today, the couple had various reasons, as they compared the olden days to the current situation.
“Today, couples rush into marriage yet they hardly know each other, unlike our days were they used to select a partner who is fully approved by the family members and the ‘match maker’ Umuranga. Currently one meets a spouse at work places, church gatherings very smartly dressed then the first time impression get in the way of one’s thinking thus rushes into marriage yet possibly one’s personality and social life cant be determined by looks alone.
One can dress smartly when going to work, yet they don’t know how to keep the house or home tidy. If the man discovers this the wife‘s weakness while in marriage and tries talking to her, they end up rebelling and becoming aggressive thus request for separation. The speed used while entering matrimony and walking down the aisle, it’s the same rush used while requesting for divorce,” Zirimwabagabo stresses.
Mukaferesi‘s advice to the singles was quite educative, she said,: “This especially goes to the girls, you should always first get to know the man’s background and particular his family. Then love, respect and understand one another definitely with God’s blessing above all things.
The couple was blessed with eight children, 6 boys and two girls.