On Wednesday, 18th March 2020, the Uganda Badminton Association (UBA) and Taibah Schools management held a joint press conference at Kawempe Ttula.
Samuel “Sam” Bugembe (sadly now deceased) and I were among the journalists in attendance.
Bugembe looked critically at my dark shades and smiled; possibly in admiration.
This press conference was first held in an open space before rains pushed us indoors.
Whilst inside the Taibah School waiting room, journalists cracked all sorts of jokes as the press conference winded down successfully.
Accidentally, Bugembe slid off the slippery floor that was now wet because of the rains outside.
At that time, I was right in front of him as I held his left hand firmly to avoid the landing.
Sarcastically, he smiled and so were the other journalists as we also later mocked him.
Ironically, this was the very last public appearance for Bugembe since a lock-down because of the Coronavirus pandemic was declared later in the evening by President Museveni.
The lock-down kept the sports fraternity apart and virtually, communal congregations have not been possible ever since.
Three weeks later, Bugembe was pronounced dead after he succumbed to an heart attack on Holy Saturday.
Sports journalism in Uganda has been hit by a tragedy with this untimely death.
Bugembe has been that soft spoken but diligent journalist. He cherished his job, was committed and dedicated.
Of late, he has been riding a motor bike from his Zana based home along Entebbe road and would never shy away from offering a lift when we bumped into each other as I headed to the only Lake Victoria Peninsular town in Uganda, Entebbe.
Bugembe loved colour blue to the brim. For all the time I interacted with him, he would openly in a typical bragging style speak about blue the best colour.
Little wonder therefore, he passionately adored the blue boys Sports Club Villa as well as Chelsea on the local and international football scenes respectively.
From the time I personally came to know Bugembe, he was working at the Red Pepper Publications where he contributed majorly to a Luganda newspaper Kamunye.
I later learnt that he had also worked at Radio Sapientia 94.4 FM, would be hosted on ABC Radio (Lubowa), Life TV and recently had crossed over to Ono Bwino Newspaper.
He loved and covered most sports disciplines from football, boxing, kickboxing, badminton, netball, cricket, hockey and the like.
Bugembe wore a welcoming smile on the face, one that would call back an enemy of progress.
He cracked endless simple jokes that kept many hearts around him warm and delighted.
Lately, he had perfected the intermediary tasks as he was a link-way for many players and coaches to several Uganda Premier League clubs as SC Villa, Mbarara City and the like.
We have been personal friends for long. He confessed having liked my work and style on the job.
He would often inquire how “I do it” as we spoke for minutes on the phone each passing day.
The Sports fraternity and journalism in particular have been struck the hardest way in such telling times decimated by self-isolation and curfew moments.
In fact, this Easter weekend, we had a sporting plot (UMEA Solidarity Games) at Kawanda SS sadly postponed by the COVID-19 scourge.
A few days before the lock-down, Bugembe boldly told me of his political ambitions as he harbored dreams of representing the people of Mukono South in the national parliament.
Sadly, this is another dream gone to the drain.
Easter Sunday will be a dark day to the family, friends and close associates.
Bugembe will be laid to rest at his eternal home on the ancestral land at Lugala—Ssugu (11 AM).
For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!Ezekiel 18:32
Rest in Peace SAMUEL BUGEMBE!