Andrew ‘Fimbo’ Mukasa has weathered the worst of storms. Since his record setting days at 16-time record league champions SC Villa and their city rivals Express, during the glory years from 1998-2004, as Mukasa has largely been a forgotten man.
His time at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) FC can be discounted as he was only seeking a comeback that remained disjointed in 2011.
But like the old English adage; “Every challenge unlocks an opportunity”, so has been the case for Mukasa and a couple of other former Uganda Cranes Internationals.
The Covid-19 global pandemic has somewhat been a blessing in disguise for the trio of Obadiah Ssemakula, Jamil Kasirye and more recently Mukasa as it has enabled their different plights come to light.
Mukasa, whose lavish and explosive goal-scoring exploits lit up many stadiums and were celebrated wildly, has been on a downward spiral but could spring back to life if the recent happenings are anything to go by.
SC Villa fans have been frequenting Mukasa’s home with basic needs and cash tonics as a contribution to his welfare and medical bills for his mental illness – something that his mother Grace Nandawula says has been a discomforting mainstay since 2000 as an alleged result of drug abuse and sorcery from the in-laws.
One particular SC Villa fan – Ruhinda North MP Thomas Tayeebwa – is the latest among the fans that are determined to put an end to Mukasa’s woes.
“I saw a post on social media with Mukasa begging well-wishers for a smartphone so that he can be on whatsapp and connect with the world and I was touched,” Tayeebwa said on his visit to Mukasa’s residence in Wakaliga.
Tayeebwa in the company of his friends was heeding a call from the goal-scoring machine of yesteryear. Besides a sleek Samsung S10 Galaxy smartphone, he carried along relief food and basic items worth Shs1m.
The place the 1999 Uganda Premier League (UPL) record-setting 45-goal hero calls home is in shambles and not worthy of his status. It could pass for dingy grain store and yet he has to share it with his mother, grandmother and brother.
Archived media reports back in 2012 show that Villa and later URA had organised funds to build Mukasa a home but it remains a case of unkept promises with the sums of money being mentioned – ranging from Shs2m to Shs50m - changing with every source interviewed.
“What pleases me is that Mukasa is upbeat. He wants a family and needs a home where he can stay without his mother, grandmother and brother,” adds Tayeebwa, who also pledged to attach Mukasa to one of his undisclosed companies for a monthly stipend of Shs500, 000 to help him keep abreast.
Pride of our nation
“Mukasa is a pride of our nation and as a country we need to follow up on such people.
“He hates to stay at home and I am determined to make life better for him. I am going to take his plight to the Speaker of Parliament and see how we can help. He is just 38 years old and can coach the Parliamentary Team. Mukasa needs a second chance in life. We need to repackage him. Companies can also use him as a brand ambassador.” And for a man who never saw Mukasa split defences and leave goalkeepers at sea but only heard of his industriousness on soccer pitches via radio commentary in Mitooma village, Tayeebwa is quick to clear the air that he is not seeking personal glory but only wellness of Mukasa.
“I don’t have any ambitions to take over at Villa. No, I don’t. Many people will think I do. I also don’t need anything from Mukasa,” Tayeebwa, with a bold tone, says.
“I just want to be among the pioneer of people that start the culture of Ugandans remembering and looking out for our sporting giants. I know if I sacrifice something when I am able now, I will not be forgotten. Maybe that will be my benefit.”
Fimbo’s world of desires
For Mukasa, who looked appreciative with the offer thus far, hinted at an opportunity to train again at Villa Park, without necessarily playing competitively and also made a plea for more help towards the drugs and feeding bills. “The medicine is making me feel better,” Mukasa said with a grin. “But it’s too strong and it needs me to be feeding well. I need those fruits, too,” said the man who topped the league goal-scoring charts for two consecutive seasons in 1999 (45 goals) and 2000 (27 goals) while at SC Villa. Mukasa has a fortnight appointment with Butabika Hospital who prescribe drugs for him that he has to pick from pharmacies in Wandegeya.
“The drugs are expensive. Any help is welcome,” says Mukasa while another Villa fan interrupted our chat as he arrived with gifts – presenting Mukasa with a small phone (Alcatel) and a pair of shoes.
“Now I can connect with the coaches and I have new shoes to wear when I go to train at Villa Park. I can still score goals,” says Uganda’s 1999 All Africa Games hero - his face lightening into a hearty laugh.
“I now need a TV so that I can watch sports and news. My future dream is to have my own house and help my mother stock her shop with nice things,” he concludes.
Mukasa’s list of desires – like back in the day when he signed for clubs after just receiving a mountain bike and MP3 walk-man player - is a mockery of the free-willed player that had the world at his feet. But it presents a huge lessons to the modern day athletes to always plan for the back-end of their careers.