Jan 25, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Meet Jjemba, Man of the Year and a darling on social media

During the festive season, the residents of Kampala Metropolis voted their Man of the Year. Thanks to digital social media, there is no need to queue up in front of the polling stations and stealthily look at guns and uniforms, no one has to count ballot papers or announce results. You just feel the results while you surf on your phone.

And bigger Kampala’s Man of the Year 2021 is … Godfrey Jjemba!

He is tired, weathered and his clothes are threadbare. At 68, Jjemba even looks 10 years older than him. He lived a rural life, but for someone who graduated from high school half a century ago, his East African education could have led him to a less needy or better-cared for life than he seems to be living today. However, things happen.

This is what an unrepentant observer of Jjemba sees. But Jjemba is neither tired nor looking for help. Instead, he gets up every day, gets on his bike and helps his fellow citizens in rural central Uganda overcome the most difficult of all time – loss – the ultimate destination for all living things.

These days they say everything be a perception that it matters less what you do than how the public perceives it – like your wedding or funeral – when people make their final judgment on you. In a deprived society where median income remains an elusive mirage, a man who gets you positive at your funeral will do you and your loved ones much more than you could ever pay.

So Jjemba joins. to the mourning home – and you are there every day – and the people sigh with relief. With the innate professionalism of a PhD in mass communications scientist, Jjemba begins taking notes on the deceased amid sobbing relatives and chattering friends, and as the funeral hour approaches, organizes all the bits and pieces he gathered on slips of paper, and in the final lesson, he presents a well-put together bulletin.

The only modern tool that Jjemba normally uses is a megaphone, and occasionally a microphone. When it comes to funerals in the countryside, where 80 percent of our people live, there aren’t any funeral directors whose services and equipment some of you take for granted. In the country, Jjemba’s God-given voice is the sound system. His diction, the perfect mixture of his mother tongue Luganda and some school English, but above all his meticulous compilation of the last bulletin for “Omugenzi” – the belated – gives the ceremony an honor that even money could not have bought.

< At a time when many people are in need due to the nearly two-year economic lockdown caused by Covid, Jjemba has enabled the poor people to experience an honorable, memorable farewell that is worth a lot without spending any money.

If we are quick thinkers, Jjemba’s services can show us that we have what it takes to do things that we ask others to do for us – at high debt costs. And the folks in the greater Kampala area have enough sense to notice this, though the less astute just think Jjemba is “interesting”.

And here is Part Two of the Jjemba Act: Impressed with his performance That social media popularized, the people who were shocked that the man didn’t even have a smartphone quickly provided one so he could now be up to date with the world. Others inspired him to raise money to buy Jjemba a motorcycle so he could spend less energy and time traveling to distant places where families are in mourning.

And part three is that The people of the metropolis of Kampala, where two thirds of Uganda’s money economy are located, are gradually stumbling across the concept of crowdfunding. Or we can say, rediscover! Decades ago, cooperatives were the engine of the country’s economic development. Indeed, agitation for indigenous peoples’ permission to form cooperatives was a key stage in our struggle for independence.

Ironically, now a man who works at funerals waves to Ugandans to see their own abilities to do what needs outside financiers, in her opinion, with unfathomable bondage and exaggerated numbers for the corruption that has built up.

After people raise money to buy jjembas, we pray they have the experience to see that they can similarly buy planes and build airports, oil refineries, and heavy industry. And that the Internet, through which they discovered Jjemba, also has all the modern information one needs to develop Uganda – without sinking into debt graves.

Joachim Buwembo is a journalist from Kampala. Email: [emailprotected]