Al Hajji Nasser Ntege Sebaggala Death | Obituary – Former Kampala Capital City Mayor and a leading businessman Al Hajji Nasser Ntege Sebaggala is died.
Al Hajji Nasser Ntege Sebaggala who was born in 1947 died at International Hospital Kampala on Saturday September 26.
Al Hajji Nasser Ntege Sebaggala, aka seya, is a businessman, former Kampala mayor, presidential advisor and presidential aspirant. He picked nomination forms for the 2016 presidential race but did not return them and, instead, decided to back President Museveni.
Al Hajji Nasser Ntege Sebaggala Interactive Chat with Capital FM
Sebaggala talked to Capital FM’s Simon Kasyate on Desert Island Discs programme about his life story. Below are heavily-edited excerpts
Good evening Al Hajji and welcome to Desert Island Discs.
Dear listeners, I am glad to be with my good friend. I am appreciating to be on this programme and we are here to learn from each other.
Al Hajji, we know you for many other things: let’s give our listeners the opportunity to know you. When were you born, where and to whom?
I am glad from where we are here in Capital Gang…
Capital radio, it is in Kisementi…
Yes, yes Kisementi. It is only one and a half miles from here. I was born in Kisaasi. I was born on November 15, 1947 [to] my late father Hajji Shaban Ssebaggala and also late mother, Hajjati Nabatanzi. From there, we grow as a humble people because I remember I start work with my father when I am only seven and a half years.
What was your father doing?
My father [had] a store in Nakasero. So, you can say he was selling vegetables in these senior citizens at that particular time. You remember Nakasero was the biggest mall for those one who are affordable, the big people. So, that is where we had experience.
Now in this Sebaggala family, what was your position?
By the grace of God, I am the first born. We are 27 but now we remain only 24. Three of us they passed away.
Do you have sisters?
Yes. Our sisters are, you know Muslim perspective; they don’t put them in limelight. That is why you see that they are not well-known but they are very respectable on their marriage…
How many sisters do you have?
We are divided by two. So, that is my sisters they are ten and boys they are 17.
Let’s paint a picture of when you were born in Kisaasi: do you have some vivid memories?
Oh yeah. I remember our first house was a hut. You know this ordinary hut? A [grass-thatched] one. Actually it [Kisaasi] was a typical village. We cannot even call it a suburb of Kampala. No; it was a village. Because where the people they stop is Nakawa.
Eventually after the development, when you are matured to go independence, they create Ntinda quarters. But the rest from Bukoto, Kigoowa, Nsimbi Ziwoome, Buutukirwa, Kyanja, Naalya, all those surrounding it was just a village. And that village was a typical vegetable growers. They get advantage to sell vegetables for those ones who were unable to grow.
And remember that time we have a lot of whites and Indians who have been working in this area. We don’t eat the same food. So, they have their own type of vegetables and…we get advantage to know more things. Because at that time I learn how to grow carrots, cornflowers, pine apples, potatoes and so on, so forth. So, this is the advantage which I had.
At the same time, I was lucky because I was in town; we have been deal with high-class people in the market. I used to carry for them some, if they bought something from our stall, then I carry the basket to their car; so, I get advantage to interacting with them. First of all, I was lucky because the former governor, the wife, she used to come and buy from our stall.
Andrew Cohen, that is when I managed to see them. We would take to the Madhvanis, inspector generals at that time, those in charge of Kampala at that time, all of them were whites. So, we used to interact… But we had advantage to interact with senior citizens like Sir Apollo Kaggwa, who was a minister. Then there was Yusuf Lule, also was a minister.
I used to have a very good friend of mine, but also we come from the same clan, the man called Fredrick Mpanga, who was attorney general of Buganda government; I think he is father of this current lawyer…At the same time when you go to the politics, I used to interact with Milton Obote…
Plays This World Is Not My Home by Jim Reeves
Why did your dad choose that you go with him to the market, and not to school?
No, no, no. When I am talking about my father that I start working with him at that age does not mean I didn’t go to school…
Which school did you go to?
First of all we study [in] Darasas [madrasa]. This is our Muslim; you must have a Darasa. In Wandegeya…that was the specific, just learn the Qur’an; the same way you [Christians] learn, Mugigi [catechism classes].
Then after two years, I finish that one, I went to Kibuli demonstration school. That was primary one up to J2 (Junior Two). But during that time, my father he could afford to take me to the high education, which are expensive. He advised me to go to the course. Remember that time after I don’t go to senior one, you can join what they call J3. It is like a technical. Then I study there for one year.
Where was this?
It was in Kibuli…From there, I managed to join by correspondence the study called London Chamber of Commerce. As a correspondence, we did one year. Then when I finish that one, I was happy but although I was qualified, but because my father could not have the car, at that time I want to become a salesman because vegetables were demandable everywhere.
So, because I didn’t have that money, I ask my mother because she had a cousin called Nasib Mukasa of Bweyogerere. So, they went to beg I can borrow their car so that eventually I learn how to drive the car. Within six months, God willing, I have already get my driving permit. Then in 1969-70, there was a new creation of Diary Corporation.
So, my boss John Babiha, who was the company vice president at that time. They had admitted me to become a salesman in Kampala. Eventually they send me to Kabete.
Where is Kabete?
Kabete is in Kenya. [They looked for] those who had more education in that particular area so that they send us there, was only myself. So, when I went there, I learn how you can deliver the milk, what time, how do you keep the milk, how do you ‘consent’ about customers.
So, I spend about six months. I came back here then they give me the sales manager [job] for whole Uganda who is under John Babiha. So, one of my bosses was Charles Maweno… So, we worked together and then I eventually resigned in 1972.
I was thinking that although I was getting good money, but I could be a very good businessman. And the same time, Obote’s government had been overthrown. So, I think is the time now to see that I go to the big business than work in government.
So, where did you go?
After two years, when Amin has overthrown that government, he say that I have got a dream that all Asians should go. My lucky time, it started. I started what they call New Fabricano. That is a shop that is where now Cairo Bank is at Kampala road. That was my shop. I had one of the biggest shops.
What was in that shop?
I think it was best to sell the modern materials, shoes, dresses…
Did you start that from scratch or some Indian was in it?
I started that one from scratch…
Plays Love Me Tender, by Elvis Presley
Al-Hajji, how do you get into politics?
We started a long time ago. In the 50s, after Ghana get independent, most of the African country they have been eyeing, yearning to see that they get independent. And most of us we had been recruited by what we called pan-Africanism.
I was lucky, on my 13 years, a man called John Kalekezi, the father of Kale Kayihura, he passed away on the plane crash in Egypt. So, they brought the body here. To see that we are demonstrating [in] to respect [of] that person, I was given a photo to pass through the whole Kampala road and other areas like Katwe, Nakulabye, and Wandegeya.
I was moving holding a photo to show that this is a hero, our African to see that we get independence. So, that is [when] I entered politics…they started a new movement by encouraging Uganda to at least have something workable in Kampala instead of coming to pick grasshoppers which Africans they have been used to…
And when you look on the customers, 99 per cent they are African, but they could not have any shop there. So, we started demonstration boycott, by telling the Ugandans please you wake up, why do we buy from these people? Let us stop buying anything unless the government change their mind also that we participate in the town. Which did very, very well and I remember that we manage the colonial government to try to think about Africans.
The director, who was the regional minister, Yusuf Lule, to make sure they started building some shops for Africans in Kampala. That is why you see they started old taxi park. Then we get about four other shops on Kampala road, one is Mukubira and Sons, another one is Kayondo Shoe shop, Ani Yali Amanyi and Busega Shop and Stores.
Tell us how you used to enjoy life.
Since I had money, life was not a problem. What is our life? It is just walking out on Kampala road, we have a jukebox, then we put some music, then you listen it, then you hang around.
Unfortunately, I was not a drinker but I used to associate with a fellow who was drinking. And then I was not so keen about the girls because I was more to emphasis to make money.
Choses Summer Holiday by Cliff Richards
Where did you get to listen to these songs?
Either to Nita [where La Bonita is], another cinema Odeum theatre where there is Fido Dido ice cream, another one is Norman cinema where now there is a church, Watoto. Then another one is Delight cinema.
Those were the four famous theatres; always they give us the latest films. Then eventually some of the businesspeople started Drive In, which was in Ntinda. We used to go with a car, thank God I had a car; I can afford to go with my friend. Then we sit in the car and then you see the film in your car instead of sitting down.
You drive on the cinema; that is why it was called drive in cinema. You get a microphone [earphone] then you put in your car, you listen. So, you don’t [get] disturb [ed]. Everything, whether it is a microscope whether voice scope, all of them they have got a very good voice. The advantage is, you just pay for the car [just one ticket], whether you are four or five, as long as you can fit in the car, you can enjoy the film.
Al Hajji, at what point did you meet this lady with whom you started a family?
I had a sister who passed away called Khasifa. She had a friend of hers she call Aisha Buteba. Then I interact with her and we see that eventually we become a wife and husband. And then God give us about four kids, one girl and three boys. [Three are in USA and one in Canada].
But unfortunately, my wife passed away. Thank God they went to [some] of the very good schools.
Was it your deliberate plan to take them to good schools?
Yes. Because of my [hindrances] when I was young, I could have gone to very good school but I didn’t have money. And one of the person who give me good life planning was…Kibuuka Musoke. This man, he used to come to [the] market. Although he was not my age, we sat down and he gave me his story.
He said do you know why they call me Kibuuka very bad? I say no. He say: “I was in the unpriviledges person [but] because of my cleverness, I went to Budo with abaana b’abaami and I was always first. So, when they come to see the results and they find out Kibuuka Musoke is the leading, that is why they call me Kibuuka Musoke very bad”.
He [made] sure that all his children they married from the high class. It was like revenge. He said if they have been despising me, my children they will do the job for me. So, he help me a lot to plan my family. The good schools are only the best way you could give your children; work hard and take them to good schools. It gives me proud to see that they have very good jobs and working in different perspectives.
…Did you ever contribute to these people (NRA) when they were in Luweero fighting?
I know my friend Museveni in 1969. That time he was given the job to the ministry of the president’s office…I like [Museveni’s persistence]. Because at that time, he is talking about becoming president of this country.
Although when you look at him, you could not see any chance. First of all, he didn’t have money. Secondly, the privileges where he came from, it was not conducive, but he insisted that he will become a president. I used to drive him to go to eat katogo because we were friends…
What happened after 69?
He later left this country. Actually, when I am in my house in Bugolobi, they start announcing a new cabinet when Yusuf Lule came back in 1979. So, I heard a name called Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. I keep in my memory, is this the person which I used to know or what? Then unfortunately, he kept a good friend. So, after about two weeks, he drove to my house with [Fred] Rwigyema.
They came and greet me. I was happy. Then they start UPM. They came to my house, almost seven of them. They start a meeting up to 5am, saying; let us join the bush. But I told then look, at that time my kids are too young, they are in good school, I have got what I need and have a good house.
I ask him a question; how long are we going to spend there? He answers and I say I cannot come because it will be like a disaster on my family, but I could help you in any form. Actually most of the Baganda who went to Luweero, because I was chairman of Democratic Party, I really give them a lot of support.
Sebaggala, what things get you annoyed?
I am not happy to the people who are not trustworthy. When you discuss one thing and then they do something different.
Does the name Gilbert Bukenya come to mind?
No no no, let me tell you. People here they don’t have experience in politics. That is why you see people they talk about Bukenya. Bukenya is a very smart man. I give an example here.
The man called Sir Winston Churchill, which was very famous in Britain, he never stayed in one party. Go to the Odinga Odinga, he was born in Kanu, went in Rainbow, now they have got ODM. When you look at my friend Uhuru Kenyatta, his father is the founder of Kanu. It does not mean that you should be in opposition so that people will understand you that you are a politician, no.
I heard people here, we opposition, like it is a job. People should wake up; politics is not played that way. Museveni was DP, he left and went to UPC, to Fronasa then UPM and joined Lule to later start NRA/M. But you should understand where am I serve the people and how am I got there. That is the point…
What is your favorite dish?
Pilau; just give me katogo with fish groundnuts. I will be a very happy person.
What would you drink?
I am very famous if I go with sodas, Krest. Because there is a kind of sourness. If you can afford, give me the glass of passion fruit.
You are a smart man, who shops for you?
I am happy that I like something good always. I rather buy a suit for $3000 than to buy 20 of $100. I am choosy. I am not going to any shop. I am a Muslim; I will be buried like my house girl.
So, I say, why don’t I spend a good life? When you come to my house, when there is TV, I buy the best one. Whether it is music, I buy the best one. So, saagala kwelya njawulo [I don’t want to cheat myself].
I have heard you in court with companies that use your voice. When you get people talk about the way you speak English, does it bother you?
I am not one of those African who have got eyes in their head. English is not my language. And let me tell you one things. Let us respect our languages. The very famous countries like Russia, China, they speak their languages.
What is not your language, you don’t worry, put whatever you want as long as people they can understand. If they don’t understand, don’t bother about them, continue, because it is not your language.
Do your children speak their language?
Yes, yes. Even my grandkids, I don’t allow them to be in America. They are here until when they finish P7, maybe they go back. They are citizens there, but I want them to have a culture here. I am not so appreciative of some of these teachers who say don’t speak vernacular.
Have you ever considered that if you don’t become Uganda president, have you groomed any of your children?
Of course. I have got Nasser. He is going to stand for member of parliament.
Abdel Nasser Gamal, like the one of Egypt. He is a leader, has been the head of Chinese students of all Ugandans. He is now standing for membership of Makindye West.
At your age Al Hajji, why are you still bothering in local politics?
I had this friend of mine in Britain, when they come to retirement, they die. Because they are not active. As a young man, always be active. Once you don’t have that steam in you, and you relax, that bad air not to go out, eventually you are going to die. Try to make sure that there is something bothering you.
How do you spend your day?
I am a typical Muslim. I wake up by 4 o’clock. I do my exercise; I move from where I park my car to down [down the gate]; I do it for 20 times. I don’t go out, otherwise I have got so many enemies.
After that I go to my bicycle and ride for ten minutes, then I went to shower and then I pray. After praying, I start to go to international news, Aljazeera, CNN… Thank God I do not buy newspapers anymore; I use my laptop and iPad. I go for the headlines, unless I am interested in a story, I read. Then we go for the books.
I have got the famous books, people who have been interesting to me. Winston Churchill, when you look at India, you can never forget Mahatma Gandhi. Breakfast is when I have finished praying; I go to my chicken, I put a kettle and pour a cup of coffee.
I don’t want to bother my workers. They are human beings.
You don’t stay with your wife?
My wife we have an agreement. She stays the other side.
But people will say it is lonely at your age to be alone in the house.
Everybody they have got their own style. Me I don’t want to quarrel every time. The best way is to have a different way of life. If I am happy, I go to her, if I am not, I come to myself. That is our arrangement. We have been together for 30 years.
If you were to be thrown away on a desert island and were allowed to take one person or thing, who or what would you take?
I would go with my brain.