THE great philosopher Thomas Aquinas once said friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become monotonous and for Gabriel Mumba and Gertrude Banda, the saying has manifested itself in their friendship and romantic bliss of 42 years.
Gabriel met Gertrude on a summer day in September in Kitwe in 1973 when he had gone for lunch with his workmates.
“I was working as a bank clerk when I met Gertrude for the first time. When we met, she was in Form Five at the Dominican Convent in Ndola and working as an intern at the Kitwe City Council.
I was on my way to the Post Office when I met her with an old acquaintance of mine called Elizabeth who introduced us. Upon setting my eyes on her, I liked her,” he said.
Gabriel said he did not want to disturb Gertrude because she was still at student adding that nobody disturbed him the time he was still at school.
“So I deemed it unfair to disturb her academic life because I wanted her to concentrate. I told her I would wait for her and only see her after she completed her secondary school education,” he said.
Nevertheless, after the introduction, Gabriel kept communicating with Gertrude regularly by calling her at her place of work using the land phone.
“I wanted to know her very well and at times I would invite her to watch a movie at either Nkana or Astra cinema halls. Sometimes we would meet during working days for lunch and during weekends we would go for walks and talk about different life issues, the times we spent together as friends really brought us closer,” he said.
Gabriel said after Gertrude completed school, he still kept communication with her; their friendship blossomed, the two officially started dating after he sent Gertrude a card on Valentine’s Day in 1975.
“I kept my word, we became more than friends after she competed school, the second time we met she was working and staying alone. Gertrude was a very attractive, open and sincere person; the more time I spent with her the more attracted I became to her, our relationship also had a great level of confidence which grew as we dated,” he said.
Gabriel said he approached Gertrude’s family in 1976 with his relatives to declare his marriage intentions as required by traditional.
“At the meeting, her family prepared a village chicken for me as a way of showing that the family had accepted me with respect. I later took her to my parents for introduction, Gertrude never spoke to my mother during the meeting and whenever questions were asked I was the one answering on her behalf,” he said.
And Gertrude said when she met Gabriel she liked him because he was handsome, honest, open, committed, serious and had a stable job at the bank.
“From the first meeting when I was doing my internship with Kitwe City Council, he would call me and my workmates would encourage me to give him a chance because he showed that he liked and wanted a serious relationship with me,” she said.
Gertrude said when they dated; Gabriel kept nothing from her about his private life and his family.
“I was very free with him, we spoke about anything and whenever I needed someone to advise me about something he would be the first person I would always think of him as the closest person I had near me,” she said.
Gertrude said when Gabriel proposed marriage to her she was overjoyed and did not hesitate to accept his proposal because she was very much in love with him and wanted to spend the rest of her life with him.
“He would spoil me with gifts and always treated me with a lot of respect just as it is required of a gentleman. We had a lot of things in common, we both loved to read books and travel a lot. We also used to discuss our future plans and other life issues,” she said.
Gabriel said he married Gertrude on March 2 in 1978 five days before his birthday adding that he had a whole week of celebrating his wedding and birthday.
“Our wedding was held at Boma Court, the reception was not big but we just had a few friends and family members from both sides. Before we got married I was a member of the United Church of Zambia (UCZ) and after I married my wife, I joined her at her at the Reformed Church of Zambia (RCZ) and that is where my family congregates from. We have been friends for 42 years and married for 37 years,” he said.
The couple has five children together, four boys and a girl: Michael (34), Daniel (30), Gabriel (26), Deborah (23) and Thomson (18).
Gabriel, a retired bank manager of First Merchant Bank said his marriage to Gertrude has been built on the seven pillars of strength in a Christian marriage namely; prayer, love, forgiveness, commitment to marriage vows, honour and keeping pure, realisation that marriage is for life and quality communication.
“We are transparent to each in all that we do as a couple with our finances and in solving our problems and also very mindful of the way we talk to each other. Our marriage has been built centred of God as it the author and Jesus Christ the foundation.
We have not stayed this long together because of our wisdom but by the fear of God in us,” said Gertrude.
The couple who are also marriage counsellors advised married couples and those intending to get married to know each other well before getting married and not to get married for the sake of showing off.
“Marriage is a sacred institution, it is something not to be entered into lightly; the divorces we are experiencing these days are mostly as a result of conflict over finances. Couples must be sincere and truthful when dealing with finances and young people intending to get married should include God by always seeking his guidance,” said Gabriel.
The couple said they wished their friends who had supported them and attended their wedding could witness how they have managed to stay together.