Matthew Okema: Death robs Kyadondo Club of rugby-loving leader

Monday June 14 2021
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Gone too soon. Okema was Kyadondo’s apple.

By Deus Bugembe

The Covid-19 second wave is the talk of town with many getting infected and others breathing their last. It is no surprise that each death is quickly linked to Covid-19. 
The rugby fraternity was left in shock with news of Matthew ‘Biggie’ Okema’s death on Thursday and a close relative said the deadly respiratory virus could have had a hand in. 
“He was misdiagnosed and, unfortunately, we wasted two weeks treating typhoid which it was not. He had pneumonia and suspected covid. And his smoking had also damaged his lungs,” said the close relative.

A Kyadondo Rugby Club patron, staff and Toyota Buffaloes forward, Okema spent a lot of time at the club and was being groomed to manage the facility as he assisted the manager, Tolbert Onyango, with running the club. 
It is also alleged that Okema’s regress started when he got his first jab. It took a toll on his general health, forcing his family to seek medical assistance, eventually passing on with breathing difficulties. 
Okema was laid to rest in Ariagar, Gulu District, on Saturday with a handful of family and friends present at his last journey.

The peacemaker
Okema joined Buffaloes at Kyadondo in 2017 after a stint with Gulu Elephants between 2012 and 2014, he also part of Heathens at some stage. 
At Kyadondo, he was seen as peacemaker and problem solver. 
“He was friendly and talked to everyone. If you had a problem and talked to him about it, he would either solve it or recommend someone who could help,” Arthur Ngolobe, a former teammate at Buffaoes, told Daily Monitor.

“Kind at heart, outgoing and always ready to help. Matthew, I jokingly asked you to buy me pork last Saturday and you went ahead to do so, had no clue you were saying goodbye! You’re in a better place. RIP brother,” Brian Tabaruka, the Kyadondo chairman, said in his tribute.
Okema’s former coach at Buffaloes Edgar Lemerigar said the late rugby player as one who looked out for others interests before his own. 
“He was sometimes a water or kit-boy, that is the humility and selflessness we have lost, always a happy soul. May the Lord grant you eternal rest and your family healing,” he eulogised.
 
Jimmy Katumba fought enough battles with Okema on the pitch, both were forwards and marshalled the Buffaloes pack. Katumba’s tribute summarises everything about his fallen comrade.
“Matthew was one person who loved to lead, guide and advice. l believe he was one person who deeply loved Kyadondo Club and Buffaloes, he would want to have you aside for a minute in the middle of a drill to just guide you on what to to do or not to,” Buffaloes said on Twitter.
 dbugembe@ug.nationmedia.com

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