MTHATHA-based medical doctors Dr Pinkie Bala-Mbambisa and her gynaecologist husband Dr Zweli Mbambisa celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary last month, with common values and commitment anchoring their union over the years.
“Even if we didn’t have similar professions I would have married my husband … our values are aligned,” said anaesthetics and child health specialist Pinkie.
Many Nelson Mandela Bay couples remember the pair from their mass vow renewal function held at The Plantation three years ago – where they shared their views of married life and offered a his-and-hers perspective on the masculine and feminine side of marriage.
The sixtysomethings met 45 years ago while they were both students at the University of Natal Medical School, then known as Wentworth.
Butterworth-born Pinkie Bala was 17 and in her first year when 21-year-old Zweli from Mthatha approached her.
“I did not know him, but he was so handsome I was flattered he had come up to me. I had a hunch there was something special about this guy! I could not just let my guard down that soon. I gave him a ‘I’ll think about it’,” she said.
Zweli recalled: “I could not let such beauty as flower petals pass me by. She was so beautiful and I wanted to get to know her better!
“I had good hope things would work in my favour. I could see there was big room for such faith!
“She wasn’t pushing me too far away, so I kept seeing her and showing her how serious I was.”
After six months Zweli’s persistence saw him win the heart of his dear freshette and the couple dated for three years before Zweli paid lobola in 1973.
“At this stage I was doing my final year internship at St Cuthbert’s Mission Hospital in Tsolo and my husband was already practicing in Lady Frere,” Pinkie said.
Zweli sent his uncles to Butterworth for negotiations with the Balas. “Visibly surprised, my parents were not entirely happy I heard. I suppose it was because I was still studying,” Pinkie said.
Zweli was a bit anxious about whether her family would accept the proposal. “I was so glad when my family came back with a lamb, which symbolised acceptance by the bride’s family,” he said.
On July 6 1974, the pair wed in a packed Butterworth Mission Location Anglican Church service led by Bishop Ernest Sobukwe, with the reception held at Transkei Hotel in Mthatha.
“Marriage is a covenant. We love each other and we respect each other, and celebrate the highs and lows together,” Pinkie said.
“Everyday my husband wakes up, smiles and kisses me. He never leaves the house without kissing me!
“He is a man of integrity, I respect him and look up to him. He encourages me and calls me his queen.”
Zweli said: “I love my wife’s inner and outer beauty. She has a quiet spirit and makes me happy in my home. I feel like I am a king!”
The couple travel a lot and are often invited to speak about how to hold a marriage together.
“We have a passion to build strong families in our country, so that we can have a strong nation. Our nation is bleeding and the change will begin in our homes,” they said.
The Mbambisas have three children, Bayanda, who is a Port Elizabeth-based ophthalmologist, Yolisa, a marketing specialist who lives in Johannesburg, Chuma, a Johannesburg information technology project manager and three grandchildren.
When the happily married couple are not too busy at their medical practice, they mentor medical students at the nearby Walter Sisulu University on Christian values.
“[This] will help them cope better with their stresses in work– critical issues like abortion – and harness a spirit to serve rather than going after money.” Zweli was the first black specialist doctor at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. – Balisa Ntloko