70 years of marriage, The story of Rev Canon Zaburoni & Zewuriya Katombozi

by admin ~ April 3rd, 2017. Filed under: Uncategorized.

70 years of marriage,

The story of Rev Canon Zaburoni & Zewuriya Katombozi

Abraham Ahabwe

On 31st December 1946, 24-year old Zaveriyo Katombozi walked down the aisle with the love of his life, Juliana, at Kitabi Catholic parish in Bushenyi and they were wed by Rev Father O Beaudoin. There was little fanfare that followed at his father’s home in Nkinga in present day Mitooma District.

Sharing about their journey from that day, Katombozi, now 95, wonders how they were able to stay together for 70 years. “Six months into our traditional marriage, I walked into my home late in the night and slept across the bed inconveniencing my wife. I was drunk and careless of her pleas for me to sleep properly”, Katombozi said during his 70th anniversary thanksgiving service in St James Cathedral, Ruharo on New Year’s Eve in 2017.

Katombozi said that the ensuing quarrel in their bedroom attracted his father in whose house they were residing. That night he told his father that he had dissolved his marriage and even offered Juliana to be married to his father. The events of that night saw him abandon his 16 year old bride to work miles away as a porter in the home of Kezekiya Katukura, the Gomborola chief in charge of Isingiro sub-county in the then Ankole Kingdom.

It was there while he was busy searching for another woman to marry that he heard the gospel being preached by those who had become saved in the East African Revival. On 14th November 1946 he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour. His conversion led him to abandon drinking alcohol and to seek to make peace with the bride he had separated from. He went home to tell his father and his wife of the good news of his new life and six weeks after his conversion he and his wife were wed in church.

Yet as all this was happening, persecution was intensifying against his newly found faith at the Catholic Church where he continually sought opportunity to witness about the change in his life.

“In Isingiro, after my conversion, I would ask the catechists after the Sunday mass to give me an opportunity to share my testimony. After two times, they called me aside and told me that I had brought ‘the things of the Spirit that belonged to Luther’s cult’, meaning the Protestants. Soon I got threats from my mother parish in Nyamitanga, Mbarara, that I would be stoned if I didn’t abandon my newly found faith”, Katombozi says.

Katombozi later travelled to Mbarara to meet the East African revival brethren in Ruharo, among whom were Erieza Mugimba, Eric Sabiti (who would later become Archbishop) and Enoch Lugimbirwa. There he was received and nurtured in his new faith and his conversion led him to abandon the Roman Catholic Church and join the Anglican Church. At his initiation, officiated by Rev Yoweri Buningwire at Ruharo, Katombozi’s first name changed to Zaburoni from Zaveriyo and his wife’s from Juliana to Zewuriya.

He says that it was because of the counsel and prayers of the brethren that he became a government detective and fought crime, especially cattle theft, in Ankole Kingdom before retiring to active evangelism in 1972.

In 1973, Katombozi was recruited as a driver and lay chaplain for Kisiizi Hospital in Rukungiri. He could never have imagined what awaited him. While he preached and prayed for patients and drove the hospital staff his witness amazed a young British lady, Joan Hall. Joan, then a young teacher in Uganda with the Rwanda Mission admired the way the gospel came alive in the life and preaching of Katombozi.

“He lived out the Gospel that he preached with such sincerity. He was really focused on the Lord Jesus and on living out his faith daily. Katombozi has also shown us a good example by gracefully taking care of his ailing wife whose movement has been restricted to a wheelchair for 18 years now”, Joan said during the luncheon in honour of Katombozi’s anniversary held at the East African Revival Museum grounds in Ruharo, Mbarara.

Miss Joan Hall, who would later become a headmistress of Bweranyangi Girls in Bushenyi, arranged to have Katombozi travel to the United Kingdom and preach in churches and gospel conventions in 1982. While there, Katombozi preached in Runyankore/Rukiga with Joan translating into English. Katombozi later went back to Britain in 1989 again through the Rwanda Mission. Other people who preached through Europe helped by the Rwanda mission included Yustasi Ruhindi (first Bishop of North Kigezi Diocese), Zeb Kabaza and Simeoni Nsibambi.

As he preached in Churches and conventions in the East African region, Bishop Yosiya Kibira of the Lutheran Church in Tanzania picked interest in Katombozi and offered him a scholarship to study Swahili and Theology. Kibira later wrote to Bishop Festo Kivengere of Kigezi Diocese alongside who Katombozi used to preach, about ordaining him as a priest.

Katombozi was ordained in December 1975 at St Peters’ Cathedral Rugarama in Kabale and worked in Kisiizi, Kebisoni, Kasorooza in Rukungiri district as well as Nyakinoni in Kanungu. He retired from active church ministry in 1991 and has since lived in Nyakayojo Rwampara, Mbarara Municipality.

In retirement, Katombozi has been going around churches in Uganda and throughout East Africa preaching in missions and conventions. He is also part of the planning team of the East African Revival activities in Uganda.

Katombozi and his wife have had 11 children, 5 of whom have passed on. At the service to celebrate their 70 years of marriage, the Bishop of Ankole, Dr Fred Sheldon Mwesigwa, who led the celebrations presented Katombozi and his wife with a certificate to commend them for being exemplary in their marriage. Mwesigwa thanked God for keeping Katombozi and his wife alive and challenged the congregation to emulate their patience in living together for long.  He said that their experience was what Uganda needed to know, especially in 2017 which has been dedicated as the year of families.


Abraham Ahabwe is a freelance writer and a member of the Ankole Diocese Media team

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