I was used and dumped, says sensational burial conductor

Mr Godfrey Jjemba Matte at his home in Kayunga District during the interview. Inset is Jjemba's photo that went viral on social media. PHOTO/ FRED MUZAALE

Mr Godfrey Jjemba Matte, the Kayunga District celebrated burial conductor, who trended on social and main stream media early this year has resorted to farming after reportedly “being used and dumped by politicians and fellow celebrities.”
The 69-year-old, a resident of Mbulakati village in Kayunga District found himself trending on internet, making him a subject of discussion on most used social media platforms with memes and cartoons caricatured out of him due to his unique style of reading burial announcements.

As Jjemba’s unique style of reading burial announcements went viral, making him a household name in Uganda as many celebrities, especially local musicians and politicians like Mr Charles Tebandeke, the Bbaale county MP frequented his home and offered him some food and financial support, among household items that were intended to change the burial conductor’s life.

Among the items offered to him were a flat television set, iron sheets, a solar system, two mobile phones, floor tiles, cement, a radio set and clothes for himself and his wife Ms Joyce Nakabazzi.
He also received pledges like a community radio, a motorcycle and window and door glasses, which he says have never been fulfilled.
“People still call me a celebrity but I have reverted to farming because some people came here and used me for their selfish interests and then abandoned me. There’s a prominent pastor based in Kampala who promised to give me window shutters and glasses for my new house but he’s yet to fulfill the pledge. You can see how a person they call a celebrity sleeps,” a visibly frustrated Jjemba says as he points at the window where he improvised by placing a piece of iron sheet to shut it.

He did not name the people he says used and dumped him.
Mr Jjemba in June this year shifted from the mud and wattle structure where he had spent almost his entire life to an unfinished semi-permanent house built using part of the support he got from well-wishers.
“Many celebrities like [musician] Gravity (Omutujju) came here and I recorded a song with him called Tusimbudde. He promised to always take me to where he would hold his concerts but I have never seen him here again,” Jjemba says, adding “Because I was useful they looked for and used me after which I was dumped.”

Our efforts to get a comment from the dancehall artiste about Jjemba’s claims were futile. 
An incensed Jjemba also revealed that he had stopped giving “free” media interviews to journalist because he gets nothing from the interviews.
“Unless when one comes with money, I will not allow him to interview me again,” he says adding that he plans to return to his other job of collecting market dues in community markets of Kitimbwa and Kayonza.
The father of 11 children says some of the household property donated to him, such a television set were stolen recently by thugs who raided his home at night.

“The night guard I had hired ran away because I could not afford to pay his monthly salary of Shs100,000. Now as a celebrity, my life is in danger and I need help,” he says.
Although Jjemba still reads burial announcements at almost all funerals in his area, he says he is optimistic that one day he will be called upon to do the same when a big shot in government dies.
“I thought I would get a chance and be invited to read burial announcements at funerals of some senior government officials who have died but I did not get it. I am looking forward to the day when a big shot in government dies and I get a chance to showcase my talent. I can read and write in English,” he boasts.

Jjemba says although his talent has helped him make many friends some of whom want him to join politics and contest for the sub-county LCIII seat in the forthcoming local government elections, he says he’s yet to make up his mind.
“I think I can be a good leader. I know the challenges people in this area are facing but I am yet to make up my mind on joining politics,” he says.
Ms Joyce Nakabazzi, Jjemba’s wife told this reporter that although his sudden fame changed their lives, there are a number of challenges they are currently facing.

“People think we have money and my relatives come here asking me for financial assistance but I can’t afford because we don’t have the money they think we do. They don’t know that we also toil daily to get what to eat,” Ms Nakabazzi says.
When contacted for a comment, Mr Charles Tebandeke, the Bbaale county MP who offered Mr Jjemba 30 bags of cement says he would go to his aid again to better his life.