Proprietor of a popular cosmetic brand-Mwanamugimu, Jackson Ssembatya Ddungu, 65, left a legacy of humility despite his wealth. Ddungu often joked that money does not deprive one of their true self.
He was known in Nateete Church Zone as a man who would not waste time. For instance, whenever he wanted to go somewhere and his vehicle was away, he jumped on any available boda boda.
His life has been labelled as that of a politician, accountant, scientist, teacher and exemplary leader.
Employed only at Ssembuule.
Ddungu is remembered for rallying people avoid the norm of seeking employment because according to him, it is a waste of time- where people apportion much of their valuable time to others. But during his career, he once worked as a chief internal auditor at the now defunct Ssembuule Group Of Companies until 1995.
In an interview with Daily Monitor last year, he said, “During holidays, we used to work in his factory and I am proud that we learnt a lot from him. He trained us while working in his factory at his home where we produced the popular Kyapambalasi (pain reliever), cough mixture for children and adults (cough solution),” Ddungu said.
It is on this background that Ddungu encouraged children to treat household work as a training tool to prepare them for a better future.
Although Ddungu has been one of the wealthiest people in Church Zone, Nateete, he mingled freely with others.
“Mwami Ddungu Ssembatya has been one of our major clients. We used to ride him to places,” Daniel Ssali, a boda boda rider at a stage near to the deceased’s home said.
He is remembered for telling people that being rich does not deprive one of remaining humble. He has been regular in St Balikuddembe Market, Owino buying various items for his children.
One of his stepsons, Byron Kimbowa, says Ssembatya was a strict man but provided guidance to everyone.
“Dad would sit us down and teach us life skills telling us how successful people should conduct themselves,” Jjemba said.
Hope Nambatya, the first born of defines their father as a loving father, a disciplinarian and educationist who sacrificed everything to ensure that his children went to the best schools.
“Our father focused so much on education and had no kind words for poor school performance,” Nambatya says. Her father forewent everything to ensure they reported to school on the first day.
Also, because of his love for education, Ddungu started Nateete Junior School in 2000. Ddungu pioneered the school in Lubaga Division after he felt that it was his obligation to start a school to elevate the status of education in his local area.
At the school, Ssembatya did not boss around.
“He was exemplary to an extent of nearly embarrassing to us teachers. He would pick rubbish whenever he found it on the compound,” a teacher Teo Nshemerirwe recalls.
She said her former boss would always tell them that he knew employees sometimes miss work because ‘they have family challenges”.
Despite his busy schedule, Ddungu was a full time father. Brian Sembatya, a second born, says he always dropped off each one of them to school. He was strict and he followed up on their performance and discipline.
“Our dad had no tolerance for indiscipline and believed in the saying, spare the rod and spoil the child,” Sembatya says.
Other than that, Sembatya says on many occasions they had fun. Taking them to theatre, their father enjoyed watching Alex Mukulu’s plays.
He says even when their father seemed busy, he never denied them audience.
“Whenever we ran to daddy he had a solution for our problems. With his comforting words, you always left with a smile.”
To his children, Ddungu was a trust worth person, loving and a committed worker. He was inspirational, out spoken and had a kind word for everyone that, approached him.
Ddungu attended prayers at Mackay Martyrs Church of Uganda, Nateete. He was part of the fundraising team, for the new church under construction, a committee member for the development Mackay Memorial school. He once served as treasurer at the church.
“The last time I physically spoke to our father was on June 5. On that day we had a family meeting to discuss the way forward for our projects. I did not think that would be the last time for us.
Brian Sambatya spent the entire day with his father parting ways at 4pm.
“In the morning we talked about business and agreed upon certain teams. Later in the day I walked with him to the bank, withdrew some money, but everything happened just in a blink,” Sambatya.
On June 6, Nambatya was not in position to see her father. However, she says they were in touch. At 7pm she received a phone call from her younger brother, telling her their father had been rushed to Rubaga hospital.
After 30 minutes, another phone call came through announcing the death of her father.
Ddungu succumbed to heart failure at Rubaga Hospital. And was buried on June 9, at Lungujja in Kampala.
“Dad was a lover of music he enjoyed listening Boney M, Celine Dion, Elly Wamala, and Alex Mukulu,” Brian Sembatya, Ddungu’s second born explains.
He was also a fan football but he was never clear on the team he supported, especially in the European football league. “I remember each time Arsenal lost a match he would be the happiest man. However, among our local teams he supported KCCA FC and at one time he played for the team.”