Wallas: Creative guru goes to sleep

Sunday March 22 2020

Rest In Peace creative; Thomas Walusimbi was a

Rest In Peace creative; Thomas Walusimbi was a name that easily came up when people talked about advertising or branding. Yet outside being the creative he was, Walusimbi was a person that had an effect on many of those he met. 

By Andrew Kaggwa

It is easy to enjoy an advert on both radio, TV or even appreciate those on billboards without putting a lot of thought on the process that delivers that work.

Behind the scenes though, a lot goes into advertising; casting, writing and back and forth trashing of ideas created. By the time we get to see an advert on TV, a big number of people have passed it fit, risk free and obviously safe for consumption.

If we are to talk about advertising in Uganda, Thomas Walusimbi is one name that we may not miss. His experience in the field spoke for him, more than 15 years in marketing communication and creative advertising in Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.

His wit and speed of coming up with brilliant ideas meant influence on Uganda’s corporate scene, for instance, it is said that he did not just work with brands such as Pepsi, Uganda Breweries and different banks, he was also the brain behind many company logos.

This is because he had worked as a graphic designer with one of the advertising agencies at one point.

Walusimbi died on Sunday morning in an accident on the Northern Bypass when his Land Rover was involved in a head-on collision at around 5am at a dangerous spot around Naalya, ironically, it is said he was coming from a vigil.


He had a relationship with the car brand, the Land Rover that many people associated it to him, in fact, after the news of his death had started going viral online, many of the people that commented talked about his smile or humility and a time they saw him in his Land Rover.

It wasn’t surprising though, he was an active member of the Land Rover Uganda Club. In fact, to pay tribute to him, the club joined by other car lovers came together and formed a convoy that escorted his body.

Tom or Wallas, as he was known by many of his peers, is said to have been a man that loathed the limelight, preferring the shadows, behind the scenes – this could be the reason many people, especially those in the media did not really know who he was, even when they thought his face was familiar from the many social events they had attended.

But his work did the talking, Samuel Hooper, a marketing consultant, says Walusimbi was never shy to share his opinion or thoughts on any work.

“He was a great listener and never afraid to challenge the status quo.”

Those that got close to him though can attest to a fact that he was down to earth and there was never a dull moment around him. He was always laughing, cracking jokes, offering constructive criticism and advice but most of all, always delivering.

Yet those that worked with him, even for a short time, they will tell you he had an impact on them, even after they moved on.

For instance, one says he could find you by the roadside, stop his car and engage you for more than twenty minutes.

And it was through these different ways that he touched the lives of the many people he met. Film and TV director Eddie Okila says the service at Watoto Church Bweyogerere was a testimony of the number of people he touched.

“A true testament of the law of legacy. What will people say about you on that day when your small ornamental box carrying your remains is being rolled?”

Hooper says Walusimbi was always a joy to work with; “He wasn’t just a creative. He had a strong understanding of business/brand strategy that made it easy for him to deliver on what the brand needed in a creative way.”

When Hooper was working with Nile Breweries, he worked closely with Walusimbi, then at Moringa Ogilvy on the Sawa Ya Eagle and the Made of Uganda Nile Special campaign, he says this remains one of the memorable projects they did.

“Both of which were international award winning brand campaigns,” he says.
He believes Walusimbi’s legacy will be his ability to positively infuse himself in not only the work he did but also the lives of those he encountered.

“Meet Tom once and you wouldn’t forget it.”

Like one friend on social media put it during tributes: “Whoever wasn’t impacted by you was yet to meet you.”

About Thomas Walusimbi
Thomas Walusimbi Went to Kintante High School before joining Kyambogo University for a diploma in engineering.

However, he did not choose that path, he ventured into marketing and communication.

At the time of his death, he was the deputy secretary general of Uganda Advertisers’ Association.

Walusimbi was buried on Wednesday in Kiwenda, Gayaza, Wakiso District.