By Brian Mugenyi
Home Town: Bisanje (Masaka)
Occupation: Politician & Civil Engineer
Family: Married to Sebamala Joana whom they have children
Engineer Richard Sebamala is taking the political scene by storm ever since he declared his ambition to stand for Bukoto Central Parliamentary seat in February this year. The position is currently being occupied by the Vice President of Uganda Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi.
Born to Cyrus Ndawula and Betty Nanyonga, residents of Gulama village, Buwunga Sub County in Masaka District, Engineer Sebamala has ironically given Mr Ssekandi a bumpy ride in a constituency which he has dominated since 1996.
Sebamala has been the talk of the town as a new politician in Masaka giving an elderly Vice President a run for his money. Since February when he rose to stardom and started supporting youths, women and the needy children in Bukoto Central Constituency, Ssebamala has proven knowledgeable in solving the plight of Uganda’s rural communities from small scale farmers, fishermen, and small business owners. He has also played at the national and continental stage, as a construction contractor and consultant for a number of roads and buildings.
Sebamala, 40, explains that growing up as a kid, he had no political ambitions and he lived a normal childhood in Bisanje before joining Bukalasa Seminary in 1993, where he took up leadership positions.
“I grew up in a family where my father was not that rich but he taught us how to work hard and of course considering God first in all the things we do,” he says.
Sebamala’s humble beginnings are demonstrated in his talk about growing coffee and later sold it to earn pocket money at school. He studied at St Modesta Bisanje Secondary School, Blessed Sacrament Kimanya and St Bernard Nkoni before switching to Buganda Road Primary School and Kanebukuliro where he finished his primary level.
In 1993, he joined Bukalasa Seminary for his O’ Level and later Namilyango College and Jinja College where he finished his Advanced Level before enrolling for a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering at Kyambogo University and graduated in 2005. He also did further studies at Dana College, Nebraska in the United States of America.
“Initially, the government had given me sponsorship to study Chemistry, psychology and Computer Science but after two months of studying I realized that my interest was in Civil Engineering instead,” adds Sebamala also the founder of Bukoto Microfinance and Sebamala Agricultural stores.
“As a student, I had to be more creative because my father was broke so I used to foot from Lunguja to Kyambogo and during my senior six vacation I used to act as a shopkeeper at my mother’s business,” he additionally said.
By nature, Sebamala is a hands-on man much as he is always smart home and away.
The pragmatic Sebamala recalls taking up jobs as a taxi conductor along Masaka- Kyotera road during his holidays. He would later get a job to build at Fufa House as an industrial trainee.
“I remember I asked Engineer Sam Kibego and Omulangira Jjuuko to get me a job there. I wanted to be a foreman but I was rather considered as a helper (Porter) to them,” he recollects.
Sebamala says afterwards, he learnt how to build houses and his maiden project was a house of Mr. Andrew Zzimwe which he built in Sseeta under the supervision of Engineer Sulaiman.
“At Fufa, I used to earn shs 6,000 per week but while constructing Mr Zzimwe’s house I used to earn shs: 70,000 a week,” he says.
Sebamala’s hard work and flexibility later earned him full time employment and they were able to construct Karamoja Region roads (State House Kangule) under the supervision of Engineer Sam Ssamakadde under Zzimwe Enterprise Construction Company.
“I also constructed Kyambogo lower estate while in my third year at Kyambogo University and I could loan out some money to my fellow students because by then I was juggling working and studies at ago and funds were there,” he adds.
Under Zzimwe Construction Company, they were able to construct Senior Staff College Kimaka and he is also the brain behind the construction of Masaka-Nyendo road.
“I designed it and has never been refurbished since then. It is about 4km and whenever I am heading in my constituency, I look at it and gain more confidence in work,” he explains.
Towards the end of 2006, Sebamala says his boss Zzimwe had become weak and this alone forced him to start up his own company DAKI Services with Engineer Achilles Kiwanuka based on Byansi building in Masaka Town.
“I started to bid for construction jobs from the government and we constructed roads in Ssembabule, Matete and Masaka and later I joined Chogm programs in 2007,” he says.
With the help of Engineer Ssebyaala of Lub Makrs Construction Company, Sebamala was able to secure a contract for his company and they started constructing works.
“We designed several roads, and I also renovated the Ministry of Works offices in Soroti,” he says.
In 2007, he joined Multiplex Limited as a contract engineer where he helped the company to even solve the managerial problems.
During his stint at Multiplex, they were able to renovate 28 health centers in Kiruhula, Mbarara, Bushenyi , Isingiro, Ntugamo and Kabale before he left the company due to little payments.
“They used to respect the constructors more highly than the Engineers which demotivated me,” he shares.
In 2012, Sebamala served as the Iganga Municipal Engineer under the leadership of Mayor Siraje Katono before resigning in 2015 to enroll for his Master’s Degree in leadership at Uganda Management Institute.
“I am ready to fight for my people in the constituency and we shall do whatever it takes to ensure that come 2021 there is a fresh blood which is me in the constituency,” he confidently discloses.
Standing against the monied VP
Sebamala the builder has taken on Ugandan politics by storm and some have even advised him to stay way from it to concentrate on his construction business which has made him some money.
But the Bisanja boy, won’t hear any of it. Democratic Party (DP) President Nobert Mao and People Power’s Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine have welcomed Sebamala with open arms and he has cordially benefited from their support and mentorship.
Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi born January 1943 to Mr. Alex Kiwanuka and Mrs. Virgo Kiwanuka of Bulegeya Township and also the 13th Vice President of the Republic of Uganda instinctively knows it far better that among his opponents Sebamala wields more clout and could be soon saying goodbye to his seat.
And Ssekandi currently at 77, has been racing against time thereby rallying around to discourage his subjects from participating in Sebamala’s activities, who has awakened the consciousness of the natives in Bukoto Central Constituency who are struggling to earn a living much as their representative in parliament Mr Ssekandi sits few inches from President Museveni.
Sebamala says, before they had high hopes in Mr Ssekandi riding on his experience in legislature, connections and management but all their expectations died a cold natural death as nothing significant has happened in their home areas all these years.
“I’ve loved my people since my childhood and of course giving back to those who cannot stand on their own is part of me. So, when I looked into my network in politics of which many are my friends, I had to give in my all and this is the right time for me to change the face of my constituency,” the gritty Sebamala, who has formed youths groups including Sebamala Foundation that empowers them through sports, education and health stated.
Additionally, Sebamala remains a household name in the Catholic Church and many a times, camera shutters have been capturing him while moving together with Masaka’s retired and newly unveiled Bishops; John Baptist Kaggwa and Serverus Jjumba respectively like newly wedded couple.
He also boosts with a conjoint friendship he has built with Prince David Wasajja who has linked him up with influential persons in Buganda’s government including Buganda’s premier Charles Mayiga who also hails from Masaka.
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