He might have been an ordinary person to some people but the burial of Ivan Semwanga proved he was larger than life.
Speaking at the burial of the socialite, the head of Dawa in Uganda, Sheikh Nuhu Muzaata, eulogized Semwanga as an “elephant” in the field; going by the huge media coverage he received since his death.
Semwanga was laid to rest yesterday at 4:40pm at his ancestral home at Naklilo village, Kayunga District.
“Only few people can achieve this kind of coverage. When an elephant dies, you cannot pronounce the death of a rabbit,” Sheikh Muzaata said, adding that Semwanga’s death had left a huge yawning gap on the social scene owing to his flamboyant and celebrated lifestyle.
Hundreds attended the fallen socialite’s burial among whom were celebrities, family, friends and locals.
“I have been on this village for 35 years and seen Ivan grow up from a small boy to the rich man that he has become but he has not helped his family and village at all,” said 60-year-old Joseph Katabazi. He said Semwanga does not own any plot of land or even simple house at his ancestral home save for the small old house that belonged to his grandmother; on which compound he was laid to rest.
Mr Herbert Luyinda, the deceased’s uncle, said took responsibility for Semwanga when the he was eight after Semwanga’s father passed on.
“I thought Ivan would be there at my burial but it breaks my heart to be looking into his grave,” Mr Luyinda said as tears rolled down his cheeks.
Bobi Wine, a popular local musician, advised the youth to take a lesson from Semwanga’s life.
“Ivan died before 40 but what he has done is commendable and evident and the youth should borrow a leaf from that. It’s not too late for you to begin making your dream a reality,” Bobi Wine said.
Semwanga, 39, succumbed to death last Thursday after 12 days in coma at Steve Biko Hospital in Pretoria South Africa.
His body arrived at Entebbe Airport on Sunday afternoon before a vigil was held at his home in Muyenga, a Kampala suburb, before a funeral service at Namirembe Cathedral in Kampala.
True to Semwanga’s flamboyant and dramatic lifestyle, his rich and showy colleagues popped champagne and splashed it onto his casket.
And instead of throwing handfuls of dust onto his coffin in the Christian tradition, the moneyed friends tossed wads of notes onto his casket as they bid him adieu.
Semwanga left behind three sons and their mother.
Compiled by Derrick Wandera, Isaac Ssejjombwe & Lawrence Ogwal