The music manager who beat nine others to win Bukomansimbi South 

Sunday May 09 2021
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Bukomansimbi South MP-elect Geoffrey Kayemba during the interview recently. PHOTO | EDGAR R. BATTE

By Edgar R. Batte

In 2007, there was a parliamentary by-election in Bukomansimbi South constituency and Geoffrey Kayemba considered standing for the position. 

His mother Resty Nabumpenje, however, advised him against it, saying at 23 years old he was too young and didn’t stand a chance. Kayemba’s mother has been a councillor and women’s league leader for the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) in Bukomansimbi. 

He again thought about contesting in the race in the just-concluded election, and this time his mother supported him. Kayemba says his motivation was the deplorable service delivery in the area, and high levels of poverty.

Kayemba beat nine others to win the seat, including incumbent Deogratius Kiyingi. He felt something had to be done and someone had to champion the cause for change and improve the lives of the electorate. But he was not sure he had what it took to join elective politics.

“We have known elective politics to be a game that involves a lot of money, which I didn’t have. So I went to stand for MP to be different by using the truth as my ticket,” Kayemba explains.

He is director of Just Fine Agency, a music management company, and Africa Sports Agency, a sports agency.

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To cut his teeth in the political world, Kayemba, a People Power supporter, turned to like-minded people. At the time, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, commonly known by his stage name Bobi Wine, had not yet come out to announce his candidacy for president of Uganda.

When Bobi Wine announced his intention and they agreed to have him as their candidate, Kayemba also expressed his interest to stand for the Bukomansimbi South seat.

He says his announcement was greeted with mixed feelings. His long-time friend, Ahmed Kayiwa, the director of Satellite Studio, says many people find it hard to believe Kayemba when he says something, but he always disproves them, thanks to his determination.

“I am almost certain that those with whom he contested did not initially take him seriously and that must have been part of the reason he emerged  winner. Even as friends, we don’t normally take him seriously. He says things in a seemingly joking manner,” Kayiwa explains. 

Like that, he announced that he needed to go back to school because he wanted to stand as MP and didn’t want to lose an opportunity to become a minister simply because he didn’t ‘have books’. 

Kayemba’s other friend, Yusuf Nampala, a journalist and actor, paid part of Kayemba’s school fees simply because he (Kayemba) had given him an earning opportunity as a trainer for a Super Star drama group.

“Kayemba is a person who keeps friends and is a determined person,” he adds. 

He is a man who maintains social networks. From people he went to school with, to those who offered him a chance to work, his story is easily constructible because many are happy to give a comment.

Education

He was the best pupil at St Charles Lwanga Primary School in Kyabakuza in his year, having scored Aggregate 8. His first choice was St Charles Lwanga Secondary School but his parents could not afford to raise the school fees to enable him study at the school run under the Brothers of Christian Instruction. 

He attended Masaka Secondary School for S1 and S2. But being a stubborn student, he got expelled. 

“As punishment, my guardians transferred me to a rural school, St Damian Kilyameenvu in Bukomansimbi where I studied S3. I sat for my S4 at Benard’s College Kisweera in Masaka,” Kayemba recounts.

During vacation, as he waited for results of Uganda Certification of Education (UCE), he got a teaching stint at Kamaanda Primary School in Bukomansimbi where the school administration at the time didn’t meet the obligation of paying him Shs50,000 as his monthly salary. 

“I was instead paid Shs12,000 per month for the three months. I was not motivated to be a teacher, again. I had made my maiden visit to Kampala to accompany my friend who had come to visit his uncle who I asked to stay with when I joined S5. He might have taken my request lightly but I was serious and made my journey when the study vacation was over,” the MP-elect narrates.

He arrived at the residence of his friend’s uncle with a sack full of matooke along with a few of his belongings. Kayemba realised he had discomforted the friend’s uncle but needed the opportunity to stay and study in Kampala. 

Kayemba went on to search for a job and got one at Norema Services, a cleaning company that was contracted by Mulago hospital. He would wake up early in the morning, go to work then proceed to school at Wandegeya Secondary School. 

One day, as he listened to the radio, and heard a call for drama actors by a group called Super Stars. 

The contenders were to show up at Happy Hours Theatre in Bwaise, a Kampala suburb. 

He was shortlisted and taken on so his schedule included evening rehearsals too and then reporting to work later on in the evening as well.

Then, he got wind of a call by Proprietors of Happy Hours Secondary School searching for a student who is good at drama and as such, could get a semi-bursary in order to lead the school’s drama group. Kayemba applied and was taken on. 

He would pay Shs50, 000 per term. In a short while, the Super Star drama group split. His friend, Jamil Kasozi began a group called Combined Talents, which struggled. 

He did a number of menial jobs for survival and to support his education. He sat for Uganda Advanced Certification Examinations (UACE) at Happy Hours Secondary School. 

After exams, he had time to do more so he started writing music scripts and worked with a friend, Isaac Matovu, to do budget music videos. Some of the videos they shot include Abdu Muraasi’s Farm and Best man. 

He asked for placement, as a marketer, at DCL Studios on Wilson Road. 

“The owner was not paying us for work done so I contacted my friend, Derrick Katende and asked him for a partnership to start DCR Studios on Wilson Road. That is how I started managing musicians and other talents,” he says.

He was manager of Lady Mariam Tindatiine, Qute Kaye, Dr Hilderman, Pr Wilson Bugembe, David Lutalo, Remah Namakula and Chris Evans. 

He says becoming MP is not going to stop him from pursuing music management and sports talent agency. 

Kayemba was born 37 years ago to Francis Jjuuko Kamulegeya and Resty Nabumpenje in Masaka District.

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