I have built three houses

Tuesday August 19 2014

While Mesach’s house, above, is still under construction, he is already living in one of the rooms on the upper floor. On the right, he points at some of the doors that are to be fitted and below is his compound. Photo by EDGAR R. BATTE

He is a gentleman who likes good things. As he supervises the construction of his house, he seeks to learn and at times helps out. He asks a lot of questions if told about materials so that he can pick the best options from the many presented. His name is Mesach Semakula, a Ugandan artiste.

Mesach says it is from music that he was able to build his first house and he has been able to build more.
He says, my achievements started when I brought friends and other artistes together in 1997 to earn some money through music.
Our first album Njagala Mukwano, the title track that was sang by Betty Mpologoma was recorded on a tape on which were songs by myself, Irene Namatovu, Geofrey Lutaaya and Mariam Mulinde.

I earned Shs12.5m off it. At the time, we were not on good talking terms with my father. So I took this money to show him that I could earn from music which he regarded as a loser’s career.

When I went to my father to ask for a plot of land, he asked me what I wanted. He entered the house and returned with a cane to beat me. I ran to my big brother’s house. I returned home with my brother and asked him for land to build. He said he could not give land to a drug abuser, like artistes were called at the time. My brother asked him to give me 10 decimals off the family land and see what I could do on it.

He accepted. So I got brick layers to start making the bricks. My first house is in Buwaate, in Kira. Whenever I got money, I would travel up to Ntinda and buy two or three bags of cement and would carry them on my lap in a taxi up to Buwaate. However, all this did not impress my father. But I continued building.

I was told that when I was not around, he would spare time to go and check out the progress of the house. I was so happy. I bought Uganda Baati iron sheets and roofed it.


He started coming around as I was building and started making jokes about me building a big house yet I had no good money. I became happier.
I knew my father had forgiven me. He started advising me between 2001 and 2002. He passed on in 2003. This inspired me to do a song called Buyinza Bwo because I had money, about Shs6m for his treatment, he had a team of good doctors but he still died.

I built in Buwaate thinking I would stay there but I later changed my mind and gave the house to my mother. By then I was more financially stable so I decided to build another house.

When I released another single, Tukwegomba Bangi it was well received.
I then did Kulika Baby and I became more popular and earned more from it. I even went to South Africa, and also won an award.
I then did Abakazi Abaguma, Sigwe Onsimila, Kankutendeleze which soared me further. I bought land in Namasuba, Kikajo Zone. I bought it at Shs13m
In 2005, I built my house on the piece of land. The money was available for building. I remember the builder took advantage of my ignorance about building.

I gave him the whole amount required for the iron sheets but he bought half of what was needed and the roofing stage took longer than had been anticipated. He took a lot of money from me.
I don’t remember what I spent on the house because I don’t keep records when building because I believe when you record, it disturbs the mind and you may not complete the house.

What I ensure is that I don’t put myself on pressure when building. When I get money I build, if it is not there, I take a break.
Even Shs100,000 can build. That is one lesson that I want people to learn. Even if it is Shs100,000 you can use it to build provided you have land because you can use that money to buy four bags of cement.

When I was building my house, the highest I deposited on it was Shs500,000 but normally I would deposit between Shs100,000 and Shs200,000.
The only time I spent more than Shs500,000 was when I was doing the final finishes.

Why I sold the house
In Namasuba, I built a good house it was up on a hill, I did good finishing. But the problem with Namasuba is that even when you leave slippers on the door step, they will be stolen, anything you would leave was stolen. If you were in the bedroom you would come and find the Tv missing. It was that bad.

The final stroke was one night when I was coming from work. I was driving my Prado, I found thieves at the Namasuba Kikajjo church, One of the men drew a pistol from his jacket when he realised I had seen him. He was going to shoot me but his colleague told him I was not the one. So he shot in the air.

When I heard that, I sped off, veered from the road to avoid ramming into their car. They asked me to stop but I refused, I also had a feeling that they could not shoot me because they had said that I was not the one.

I don’t know how I got the guts but I sped off. When I reached home, I called the police I told them someone almost killed me.
Two days later a lady, working with Faulu, was killed. I narrated my ordeal to friends in a hotel and nearby there was a man listening. He told me I would have killed because such people believe that I have money.
He told me I deserved to stay in a better place. But I liked my home and the people in Kikajo were my friends.

But I also treasured my life. I always believe that at the end of the tunnel are new beginnings too. While I was pondering about all this, my manager, Musa Kavuma, called me. He was with some friends.
He told me of someone who was selling a house in Buziga. I could not believe I could afford land let alone a house in Buziga because I knew it as a posh neighbourhood. My manager told me we would manage.

My manager and freinds took me to Buziga when i was contemplating selling my Namasuba house. There was a simple house, roofed with iron sheets.
There were chicken houses. I will not tell you the asking price but I felt it was high. We sat down and my manager convinced me to sell my house in Namasuba.

We valued my house but the amount it was worth could only cater for half of the money they had asked for. I had a Prado and my manager asked me to also sell the car.

I sold both and remained with a debt of Shs90m. the hajji who was selling the house was patient and allowed me to pay the money in installments for three years.

I also patiently stayed in a house I did not like, which I found in this plot. I even feared to host visitors in the house.

One day, I spoke to my wife and we agreed to do away with some of the luxuries so we could save and start building this house. She agreed. We have built this house for four years now.
To renovate it, I had music machines which I sold. I had a Harrier which I sold too. We are living in the house as construction is underway. Whenever we get a little money, we buy material.

Use the little you have. You do not need the full amount to start building a house. As long as you have land, you can use Shs100,000 to start constriction.

Buy your construction material. Never trust contactors with money for buying construction material, they will cheat you.
Forego luxuries. At times you have to sell some of your valuables to build your dream house. You can live in a house even when it is still under construction.

Life is more important than property. However much you love a house, if the neighbourhood is insecure, you are better off selling it and buying another one.