“The Kamukama I Know”

In 2013, during my early days of journalism at Radio Ssese, a Kalangala based media outlet, a close friend, Thomas Ssetuba partnered with with a certain events company to organize ‘ensisinkano’, an interactive event for the radio station.

An agreement was made between the two parties to deliver artists for the event who included Kazibwe Kapo, Mathias Walukaga and the Ghetto President Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine (At that time, Bobi Wine hadn’t gotten to Politics, Kamukama too hadn’t gotten to the lime light).

One day, while organizing the ‘ensisinkano’, I meet Chris Kamukama (Molly’s husband) aboard MV Kalangala who shared pleasantries. I told him about ‘ensisinkano’, an idea he largely welcomed.

At that time, Chris and Molly Kamukama had just taken over Victoria Forest Resort from former Kweba and Chairperson of the National Cirriculum Development Center Prof Peter Muyanda – Mutebi.

The resort, despite being on the shoreline of Lake Victoria is situated in a forest reserve.

The resort had been instituted after acquisition of a permit from both the National Environment Management Authority and the National Forestry Authority for the construction of an eco tourism facility.

The couple isn’t the only one that had acquired such permit. Others with permits include Hon Julius Mukasa Opondo, Rogers Munaawa and family who own King Fisher Camp site and Mulindwa Birimumaaso of Pearl Gardens, among others. Only Col Frank Bagyenda’s Panaroma Cottages never applied for the Permits.

Kamukama got interested in the idea of hosting the ‘ensisinkano’ show at Victoria Forest Resort. At that time, he was still struggling to construct the eco Tourism facility.

An agreement between the Kamukama’s, Radio Ssese and an events company ensured. Radio Ssese, being a brand owner agreed to take 30% of the proceeds, the events company took 70% while the Kamukama’s despite agreeing to offer venue freely only agreed to sale snacks and drinks. Other proprietor’s of venues in Kalangala would ask for not less than a million shillings to host such function.

All through the negotiations Molly was kind, quiet and purely submissive. She seemed reserved, down to earth and paid attention. The husband (Chris) would negotiate on behalf of Victoria Forest Resort.

One day, Chris invited us to Victoria Forest talks, Molly had just arrived from Kampala using MV Kalangala and seemingly tired. When asked to offer us a drink. Despite being tired visibly, she obliged, together with the waiters.

My colleague, Thomas (RIP) wondered. We had gone to other places where bosses would keep us waiting and ask us to return the next day only because they were sleeping.

On the D’day of the ‘ensisinkano’ show, Molly kept doing work, engaged in serving the local people with food and drinks (other bosses would want to sit somewhere and wait for dividends) until the next morning.

At around midnight, a colleague Achilleo Kiwanuka with whom I was seated, ordered (I mean ordered not ask) her for what to drink and she humbly obliged.

I was amazed by the humble person she was. For I know the husband, Chris is more lively and somehow stubborn.

When Radio Ssese made loses, the team also made losses (Never mind Bobi Wine and team had some good time), the partners accepted but continued to build their tourism business.

I would later recieve information of her appointment as the Personal Assistant of the National Chairperson NRM around 2015 and later Principal Private Secretary to the President.

Even with their status improving to being closest to the fountain of honor, they paid their licenses and permits for operating an eco tourism facility to both NEMA and NFA. They paid taxes and despite the bad state of the road leading to their resort, the pleaded (not order) often times with town clerks to have their road repaired.

“Some times we would repair it, especially if we had the resources, sometimes we would solicit for funding and they would gladly contribute,” says Jude Mark Bukenya, the former Town Clerk – Kalangala Town.

She has kept on reaching out to different authorities to ensure Kalangala gets services. “We prefer reaching out to her especially. She is efficient especially when she promises to follow up,” a district official says.

Last week, I read reports from several media outlets of how Molly Kamukama had embezzled money to buy land in Kalangala and constructed a resort. I wondered why such irresponsible reporting was done.

The family took over the resort even before they came to the limelight and such facts ought to be respected.

For the Kamukama I have seen for the past seven years seems to be different from the one pundits portray as bad and corrupt.

Lubulwa is a tour operator and a Journalist.

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