12 February 2013

Uganda: Quick Talk - Former Etics and Integrity Minister Miria Matembe

Former MP and Ethics and Integrity Minister Miria Matembe tells Quick Talk she does not answer unserious questions and starts to leave Piato restaurant: "The other day a journalist called me asking me about Valentine's Day!"

Quick Talk has to explain to her, in great detail, how this interview will benefit the reader and her, before she agrees to it.

Who is the most important person in your phonebook?

[Heavy disapproving silence and then...] First of all you are assuming I have a phonebook. What's a phonebook? [Quick Talk explains it's the contact list on her phone]. Everyone in my phonebook is important. If they were not important, they would not be there. When you rang me, you were not in my phonebook. You are not important. [Haha].

By important, I meant people like the Vice President, the Prime Minister, you know.

[Like Quick Talk is crazy] Those people are not there. But everybody there is important.

[Matembe was firm about not answering questions regarding best food so Quick Talk dressed this up] If you were on death row and were offered a last meal, what food would you ask for?

[Confused] If I'm dead? Last meal? What would you want to eat food for? I would ask for the Bible. The word of God would strengthen me. [Quotes Isaiah 41:10 and 43:2 as Bible passages that strengthen her.]

Do you drink alcohol?

Alcohol? Not now. At first I used not to drink. Then I met and married a brewer! But I drank responsibly. Three beers. [Intimating] Do you know the two things that cure thirst? A cup of hot tea and a glass of cold beer. By the time you are halfway the glass, the thirst is gone [now, there's a thought; a tipsy Matembe...!]

When did you last go to the movies?

[With an attitude] Excuse me?! Assuming that I go. I went last month. [She was launching a movie on domestic violence]. I only go to movies when invited. I'm not interested in them. By the way, I'm an actor. I've participated in two plays.

What is the least favourite part of your body?

Excuse me!! [Clearly her favourite phrase] I like the whole of my body. In fact, I looove the whole of my body [That must be a first for a woman!] But there's a part I'm uncomfortable with [See?] It is my fat arms. That's why you'll never see me in sleeveless shirts. They would make me look huge.

You are such a fighter. Did anyone even ever bully you in school?

[As if the girls who did it were very bad girls] Yes we were. In Bweranyangi [Girls school]. Those girls would tell us to blow the bulb out [the way you'd blow a lamp out]. We were from the village... But my father used to bully me about my mouth. Maybe that's why I used to hate it. He would tell me, "Look at your mouth, it's like a slasher. And your eyes are so small". [solemnly] Yet my mouth was like his. .

What was your first car?

It was a Nissan Violet bought in 1969. I have driven many cars since, but I currently have two. A Toyota Vitz and a Toyota Prado for long distances.

What is the most beautiful part of your body?

[Laughs] Will you ask me about the most useful one too? I will tell you even if you don't ask. It's my big mouth. [Matembe emphasizes that she means the physical size of her mouth] Before I was empowered, I didn't like it.

But now I know that God purposed this mouth for me. Now on to the most beautiful. It is my legs. I am very confident and happy with them. [No wonder she loves wearing shorts occasionally].

Who is your favourite politician?

Ah, ah, which politicians now? I've never thought about it.

And your worst?

You see, it's not easy to compare these people. They are hopeless. Some are sensible though. I don't like the body politic of Uganda.

[She stands up, going to the bathroom before heading for the chauffeur-driven Vitz for another appointment, with Quick Talk in tow. The interview continues in the car]. If somebody gave you roses on Valentine's Day, what would you do?

I love flowers, so I would take them, but I wouldn't feel so good that I've gotten flowers for Valentine's.

Your husband...

[Interrupts] What do you want from my husband?

Do you ever give him gifts?

Yes. Not only him but my children too. My love language is gifts.

What does he say he likes about you?

Why don't you go and ask him? But one thing I know is that he loves my legs. By the way, he is not the only one. Banyankore men love legs.

Would you say you are romantic?


They say we dream about our daily preoccupations. Do you ever dream about president Museveni?

[Looong silence] Yes. I dreamt about him. It was in 2006. I was so scared, I woke up and prayed. But I've dreamt about Janet [Museveni] more.

What were the dreams about?

I can't say. The driver stops at Cooper road, Kisementi and Quick Talk is done.

Copyright © 2013 The Observer. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.