Monday, November 29, 2010

Meet Mugumya, Besigye’s loyal lieutenant

In today's Observer, Edris Kiggundu writes about a diehard Besigye fan (pictured) that has risked everything to make sure his hero is safe.

 He is thin, talkative and unrelenting when he wants to be heard. And above all, his love for his boss borders on madness.

If you want to incur the wrath of Sam Mugumya (pictured), an FDC activist, try to do anything that jeopardizes the safety of his boss, Dr Kizza Besigye, the IPC flag bearer and FDC president. His love for Besigye has even led him to mimic his boss.

“Besigye espouses the values I stand for,” Mugumya explains why he likes the retired colonel. “He is an activist.”

During his days at Makerere University in the early 2000s, Mugumya, who was already an opposition activist and a member of the Reform Agenda, Besigye’s 2001 campaign platform, would set public debates alight. He was nicknamed Besigye at the time the FDC leader was exiled in South Africa.

On the campaign trail, Mugumya has been by Besigye’s side to ensure that he is comfortable. He is often the one who buys newspapers early in the morning for Besigye to read before he sets off for rallies. Mugumya, who sits in Besigye’s car and opens the door for him, carries the portable public address system which the candidate uses during brief campaign stops.

He basically does anything to ensure that his boss is comfortable. On a typical campaign day, Mugumya is up by five in the morning and he retires to bed past midnight after ensuring that everything is fine.

Mugumya was born in Rukungiri in 1979 to the late Emmanuel Turyomurugyendo and Edinat in a family of five siblings. He had an eventful childhood, growing up in Kasese where he had his primary education.

“We used to jump on fast moving vehicles for free rides to town,” he says in a tone that suggests he does not regret this dangerous stunt. Later, he joined Muntuyera High School in Ntungamo district for his secondary education.

His closeness to Besigye and activism have landed him in trouble a number of times. Once, he was arrested as he tried to make his way into Bombo army barracks to deliver a Christmas message from his boss.

Growing up, he says, he was stubborn and would at times hide in the ceiling of the dormitories to dodge lessons. But he was also passionate about several causes.

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