Former National Theatre director, Walugembe, dies

Thursday May 26 2016

Joseph Walugembe.

Joseph Walugembe. 


Former Uganda National Cultural Centre (UNCC) director, Joseph Walugembe, has passed away. According to the deceased’s son, Humphrey Jjuuko, Walugembe died as a result of high blood pressure and severe anaemia. He breathed his last minutes after 6am today.

“He was alright by last night but when we went to his bedroom this morning, at about 6am, to wake him up for breakfast, he was gone,” an emotive Jjuuko told this reporter in a telephone interview.

He added that for a fortnight, his father had been complaining about cold and cough since he was in Mbarara for a music, dance and drama do where he officiated as a judge. He has been receiving medication at MK Clinic in Najjanankumbi from his personal doctor.

Walugembe leaves behind six children: three sons and three daughters. He was a director of the national theatre from August 2008 to 2012. Jjuuko says that his father loved the arts.
According to Robert Musiitwa, Public Relations Officer (PRO) at UNCC, Walugembe will be remembered for the love he had for Arts and Culture Industry.

He explained; “He was a moving dictionary when it came to issues of culture and arts. He loved everybody and generously supported everyone irrespective of their background. He loved to keep the low profile to the extent that sometimes he preferred to take a back seat when he was invited on high profiled events. It is not until he could speak that one could appreciate the wealth of knowledge he carried along with him.”

“He also championed the grooming of many current theatre practitioners. We will greatly miss Walugembe Joseph,” Musiitwa adds.

Indeed he excelled as an actor in the 1980 as the National Best Actor under UNCC shortly before being taken on as an education officer at the centre, a role he held between 1992 and 1999.
According to theatre archives, he was production Manager 1999 – 2003, and acting Artistic Director in 2003 until 2008 August when he was confirmed the Executive Director.


Before, he lectured in dance and theatre at Makerere and Namasagali Universities. He also taught children with special needs at Shimon Demonstration School where he doubled as a teacher and deputy head teacher.

In his career, he took on roles in over 40 productions with varied, form, style and language. He was also a playwright in productions like Gold is always Gold, Ffe tuli Namirembe, Hopeless hope, Kyaddaake and The Personnel Officer. He was a stage director in a dozen productions and participated in a number of international festivals in USA, Canada, Kenya, Sudan, Lybia, South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia, North Korea, Russia and Zimbabwe.

He also participated in a multicultural theatre project in Switzerland and held Administrative posts in different theatre groups. Since 1989, he has been a National Adjudicator and facilitator for the Primary and Secondary Schools' Music, Dance and Drama Festivals.