Though having lived in China for over three years, Nabulya Norah, a 26-year-old woman from Uganda, still find it hard to cope with the chilly winter here.
Before marrying Xie Xiaowei, a farmer who lives in Mengjin County in central China’s Henan Province, all that she knew about China were learned from kung fu movies. But now she can speak Chinese, even with a slight Henan accent, though not very fluently.
A lack of knowledge about the other’s culture is also true for her husband before they met. “I heard about Africa, but I wasn’t sure where Uganda is,” he said.
Their romantic story began in 2013 when the Chinese company that Xie was working for contracted a project to build an expressway between Uganda’s capital Kampala and the Entebbe International Airport.
The two worked at the construction site — Xie worked as a driller, while Norah was employed to assist in the kitchen.
“I saw her almost every day, and slowly, we got known with each other,” Xie says shyly while recalling the memories. “I can’t speak English, and she can’t speak Chinese, so our communication at that time was mainly through gesticulating and guessing.”
The buoyant and fun-loving girl impressed Xie very much, while Xie’s warmheartedness and patience with fellow workers also attracted Norah.
Compared with Norah’s extroversion, Xie seemed to be a bit timid and dull. Half a year later, even though people around them had all felt their affection toward each other, the then 39-year-old Xie was still too shy to confess his love.
It was the then 20-year-old Norah who said “I love you” to Xie first, holding a rose in her hands. “He’s a gentleman, and he’s handsome,” said Norah, holding her husband’s hands closely, recalling that moment.
Like many cross-border lovebirds, they faced many difficulties at the very beginning. In particular, people around them believed that the relationship would fail.
“China remains a remote place for us, not to mention that my husband is nearly 20 years older than me,” she said.
However, she gained support from her mother and finally married to her true love.
Their first baby was born three years ago, and Xie named him Buwei. “My son’s first name is composed of two Chinese characters – one is from my name and one from my wife’s. It’s a way of commemorating our love,” Xie said.
In 2018, they had their second son, and Xie gave him the name Yafei, which refers to Asia and Africa. “I chose the name, referring to our inter-continental marriage,” he explained.
In the early days after coming to China in 2015, Norah faced a lot of challenges in life from climate to food, but her inability to speak Chinese was the biggest obstacle.
Though now Norah has no problem in daily communication, her husband still worries about her when she goes out alone. Over the past more than four years, he has always accompanied her whenever she goes out.
In the eyes of their neighbors, they are like newlyweds — no quarrels, fights or arguments. Besides, Norah gets along very well with the other family members and neighbors.
Li Xueyun, her 70-year-old mother-in-law, is still not sure where her daughter-in-law is from, but she is delighted with her, saying that Norah can get everything done very well, from washing to cooking. “Wherever Norah goes, there is laughter,” Li said.
Having two children to feed, Xie worked through the Spring Festival. Having already shaken off poverty in previous years, he is now planning to move from the village to the city after his eldest son finishes kindergarten.
Norah’s new year wish is to have her house in Uganda renovated. “Our house here is very comfortable, and I want my mother to live in a better place too,” she said. Enditem