11 January 2019

Uganda: Mbwatekamwa On Leaving Parliament to Give Family More Time

Mbwatekamwa Gaffa, the member of parliament for Kasambya county, is one of the most controversial NRM legislators. Quick Talk caught up with him in Namugongo recently.

After Quick Talk waiting for over an hour, the MP shows up clad in yellow party shirt, grey pants and a red cap. [The red cap is the signature wardrobe piece favoured by opposition pressure group People Power.]

Wow! Honorable, your dress code is very confusing!

No, I'm not confusing. I'm an NRM diehard, that's why some members cannot move around putting on NRM shirts; apart from me and Tamale Mirundi [another controversial NRM chap.]

You are always going against party norms!

[Laughs] I'm someone who is open, critical, and who loves justice; I'm not even defiant.

Back to business, Mbwatekamwa Gaffa. Those are funny names, Honourable.

[Laughs out loud] It means as a man you must be strong! So, you can hardly milk any dog. That is what it means; to be a man, you have to stand all seasons.


I got the name in my S4; our headmaster had sex with a student; so, we rioted and some were arrested. When I went to ask police to release my friends, police wanted a bribe; police asked me for mata g'abaana (children's milk). But I told them: "kasooka mukama nte, mbwatekamwa (you may have been milking cows, but you cannot milk a dog)... but they ended up releasing them. That's how I got the name as a nickname.

Strange, that few people know your real name!

My name is Louis; I was baptized in the Catholic faith.

Louis is a beautiful name. Now, your dress code in parliament [He is known for the love of a bowtie]...

I'm a pan-African and I believe in [fabric] like kitenge, but when I came to parliament, I found people wearing ties but I was uncomfortable with ties; so, I remained with my bowties.

Who chooses for you what to wear?

I choose for myself. I don't remember the last time my wife even bought me a shirt!

Hmmm, are you romantic?

Very romantic, and my wife loves me so much.

Talking of romance, when did you last take her out?

[Gives it a thought:] Hmmm; three months back.

Quite long, I must say...

Yeah ... actually in parliament we try to dedicate much of our time legislating than with our families; that's why I'm planning to quit politics; one of the things I'm planning is to concentrate on my family. I want to revive the love of family glory [Mbwatekamwa recently announced he will not be seeking another term in office, a decision that has been cheered and scoffed at, in equal measure.]

Good luck on that. Do you dance? What are your favourite dance styles?

[Brightens up] I like lingala; by the time we were growing up, Congolese were the best musicians and people like Pepe Kale, and groups like Wenga Musica were a thing. [Quick Talk imagines the energetic Mbwatekamwa in a lingala dance move, and the image is funny. Moving on... ]


[As if sensing Quick Talk's skepticism, the MP brightens up and demonstrates] If you played Etat Major [done by Extra Musica music group], you just see the dog [as he repeatedly refers to himself] almost breaking. I'm a serious fan of lingala.

Does this dog also know how to cook?

Yes! Very well. I can cook matoke ... and to tell you, on December 24, in my constituency, one of my people lost a daughter studying in one of my schools and I'm the one who mingled the posho at the burial and also peeled matoke [now, that would have been a great photo op!]

Even on Women's day, I actually cook for my family.

Talking of family, what is your wife's name?

She is called Dona Atwire.

Any kids, Honourable?

I have four children.

Great! I'm imagining you must be a dog lover too.

Yes; actually, I'm a dog breeder. I have over 45 dogs; some I sell while others protect me.

For the best breeds you can come to me; the German shepherd, the Boerboel...

I'll keep that in mind... how many pairs of shoes do you have?

Not more than seven.

Eh, a whole MP?


And what car do you drive?

I drive a Toyota Noah and a Kia.

You are a favourite for NTV's satirical show, Point Blank. How does your family take that?

Actually my family knows me as a comic dad and they are not always surprised. I like cracking jokes with my wife, my children ... we are always joking, they know I'm [a comedian].

The funny side aside, what kind of dad are you?

People see me deliberating on the floor of parliament but at home I'm soft. I cannot kill a fly.

Which MPs do you admire most?

I admire Theodore Sekikubo [the Lwemiyaga legislator, who like Mbwatekamwa is known to veer from his NRM party line] and Helen Kahunde (Kiryandongo Woman) and the best iron lady is Monicah Amoding from Kumi district.

If you were president for a day...

I would [fire] all corrupt government officials... By the way, if I were a president, I would not work with any of the ministers in government now. I would look for my generation.

Which musician do you admire?

I admire Bobi Wine and Juliana Kanyomozi.

Sing for me a Juliana song, Honourable!

[He gives Quick Talk a raspy chorus of Kanyimbe by Juliana, as we wind up the interview.]


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