KAMPALA. It’s a clear blue sky with scattered puffy clouds after the rain on a Friday afternoon, I jump on a boda boda with a mission to track down the man who was the talk of many last Wednesday although they did not necessarily know him by name or face. This is after he offered a couch to FDC flag bearer Kizza Besigye.
Most of you that followed the proceedings that Wednesday remember that big sofa fixed atop Dr Besigye’s Land Cruiser as his procession snaked through Jinja Road to Nakivubo stadium where he addressed a mammoth crowd following his nomination to challenge the incumbent President Museveni for the fourth time.
I accessed Banda where he received the sofa via Nakawa, and Kyambogo University, because I did not have any contact for directions, I tell my cyclist to stop at every carpentry workshop he notices. This is because I don’t know the exact one that donated the couch; neither do I have a contact person.
I make two stops before reaching Mr Rogers Matovu’s workshop on the left side of the road that stretches to Kireka from Banda.
I am welcomed by a youthful man in black pants and a red T-shirt, who later tells me his name; is Joshua Kyebanala.
I introduce myself as a journalist looking for the owner of the workshop that donated the couch to the FDC leader.
“We are the ones,” he says with a smile. He, however, looks rather skeptical but I assure him I am a journalist.
Although he works and owns some of the sofas at the store, Kyebanala tells me to follow him across the road where his colleague is scouting for clients.
Kyebanala introduces me to his colleague; Rogers Matovu, who offered Dr Besigye the sofa. We now go back to the workshop and take seats.
We are joined by two of their colleagues who encourage Matovu to speak to me despite Kyebalana’s suspicion.
I pull out my identity card to dismiss any doubts. Matovu gives me a stare for a while and then agrees to my interview.
“The truth is that I am the one who gave Colonel (Besigye) the sofa. Others were giving him money but I realised that at that time, he needed rest more than any amount of money.
We had wanted him to step down from his vehicle and take a rest by seating in one of the sofas. We as people who make these sofas wanted to have a chat with him.
We have our problems that nobody has listened to yet.
For example, the machines we use to frame these sofas are very expensive and we don’t have permanent working areas, anytime something comes up like road works, we are pushed.
But since he indicated that he was going to Nakivubo and could not sit, I decided from my heart to sacrifice one of the sofas worth Shs600,000.
I thought the sofa would help him move while seated and interacting with the people easily.
I had already noticed that it took him a lot of time to move from Namboole to Banda, which is a short distance and imagined how tired he would be by the time he reached Nakivubo, given that he was standing.
It is not something that I or anyone at the workshop planned to do. The moment was emotional, everyone was excited.
How it happened
We stopped the president (Museveni) but he pointed at time. Mbabazi stopped but maybe the excitement was not as it was with Colonel.
I know that it (sofa) leaves a financial gap but I know that he (Besigye) will remember people that do this work in case he becomes president or even as a leader that he is.
Matovu says that at first he was not sure Dr Besigye would accept the couch to be placed on top of his vehicle.
“It was interesting that he never hesitated. We thought he would object because it could scratch his car.
After accepting, my colleagues at the workshops and his security personnel helped to carry and place it on top of the car as he looked on.
Gifts on the campaign trail: Was the sofa a unique one or not?
Of late, Dr Kizza Besigye has been receiving all sorts of gifts from members of the public. Shortly after being nominated last week to run in the 2016 presidential election Dr Besigye collected at least Shs2m, a sofa, flower pots, bread and sugar, among others.
Following his campaign for the FDC flag bearer in which he defeated incumbent party president Gen Mugisha Muntu, Dr Besigye collected millions of shillings from his countrywide tours, something that has taken many by surprise.
What people say
Kyadondo East MP and FDC spokesperson Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda says “The spirit and intention under which this money is being given and received shows you that we are only providing leadership. It is a campaign of the people and they are taking lead in trying to raise funds for it. And this is how we are going to run this (2016) campaign.”
Adia Namboozo, a communication specialist agrees: “I think it’s different from the usual. It shows how much those people want him to be their president. It’s normally the other way round, candidates giving gifts to the public so as to vote them. Seeing what some people are doing for Besigye is somewhat fascinating.”
But special media assistant in NRM chairman’s office Don Wanyama thinks otherwise.
“NRM has many supporters who support it financially. They may not do it on the streets but they generously fund the party.”
Born 27 years ago, Rogers Matovu is the last borne among 12 siblings. They are all business people. He thinks he is the only one out of the 12 with a slight interest in politics.
He recalls that his father was an LCI chairperson in one of the villages in Jinja District in the 1990s.
Matovu thinks he will go far since he is already a leader.
He has just been elected the youth chairperson for Banda Zone.
He says his aim is to be a Member of Parliament when he gets enough resources to run a successful campaign at that level.
Matovu holds a diploma in Computer Science from Muteesa I Royal University. Lack of tuition stopped him from proceeding for a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Social Administration at Uganda Christian University.
This is the reason he decided to join the carpentry business which he has now been into for six years.
He started as an attendant, selling sofas for his boss before starting to make his own. His entire capital is currently worth Shs6m.