By Emmanuel Ssejjengo
As Fatboy (James Onen) makes 40 years, we have invited several people to share the birthday cake; from the cutting to the eating. At 40, a man ought to make peace with everyone and everything. What are you still trying to prove? Perhaps it is other people who just don’t “understand” Fatboy. He is such a phenomenon; some think he still has to grow up, and others think he has just grown up different, which is not the same as not growing up at all.
There are people like Bebe Cool, who once abused (that is the right word) Fatboy. It started as an argument between adults, then it dropped to outright abuse and insults. Bebe Cool suggested that we should all stop listening to Nigerian (and all foreign) music and listen to only our local artistes. Fatboy said that the local artistes should up their game if they want us to pay attention. On and on it went, then Bebe lost his head, probably along with its dreadlocks. “You are there, already in your 40s and you do not have kids yet. Yet you call yourself a man,” he fumed. “When we men talk, you shut up.” Everyone knows Fatboy has never shut up. Bebe did not know that Fatboy was not yet 40, but he should know better now.
And Fatboy has refused to be told how to be a grown up or a man. He argues that no one proves manhood by building a house/home. He strongly believes that that is just one of the choices you can make, but it can also be a dumb choice. So he rents a home, in which he places the best screens and the latest video games, complete with a balcony that could leave many campus girls yearning for him. He will not allow to starve just because he is saving to buy iron sheets for his dream house. So, he will have a big house filled with all big boy toys. He is not the predictable type. Does not conform to rule-of-the-book dreams: the ones in which people are born, go through school, graduate, get jobs or find any work, marry, get children, get a house and wait to become grannies.
Most of the ones who have tried his line of thinking have fallen off along the way. He is a celebrated atheist. However, he hates it that he is celebrated as an atheist. So when he started a society of atheists who met often to ponder on particular issues, it garnered a following. Then he just jumped ship, saying that having a community of non-believers was similar to having a community of believers; which goes against “my free thinking” purpose. He claimed that the meetings had turned out to be like congregations.
So he left fellow atheists in the cold, and you are likely to find him in a heated argument with Pastor Ssempa now. If it was not for Fatboy’s amazing calm demeanor, Ssempa would probably tear him to pieces sometimes. Those two will quarrel until Jesus’ second coming, which Fatboy believes is total hogwash. They will perhaps quarrel to their graves.
If you are looking for any cowardly traits, you will not find them in Fatboy. The other person he ought to make peace with is Maama Fiina and her harlem of the people she leads. Fatboy says that what they practice is sheer witchcraft, which is useless and has never hurt anyone. He goes on and on about it, and nothing seems to happen to him. He is not protected by God, a god or the devil. He is protected by logic. At 40, you would expect him to conform, and fall into a belief system of the majority.
He has also had run-inns with TShaka Mayanja. First there was an argument on whether there is a Higher Power that controls us. Fatboy trashed Mayanja’s Rastafarianism. Then he provoked TShaka again, by demanding that he brings artistes like Lionel Richie for the Jazz Safari. He threatened to start a campaign where guests would pay up to sh1m each for the show. He is yet to deliver on that threat, or promise.
He is perhaps still using that money to buy video games, which he plays in his large living room, with a balcony to watch the rising and setting sun.
About 20 years ago, Fatboy was playing guitar in Kampala’s bands. He has backed people like Iryn Namubiru and Juliana Kanyomozi (yes, they have been around for quite some time!) If he had taken that path, he would be the current Myko Ouma. But he ditched it and went to radio where he spends time intellectually challenging fellow presenters and listeners. He is also the Programmes’ Director at Sanyu FM. Part of his job “responsibity” is to make the station’s female fans comfy at Sanyu FM parties. He makes up for the lost “gigging” job by doubling as a regular judge at talent shows.
He keeps the company of women, on and off the job. However, women are like mannequins to him. They simply have no effect on him. He has exchanges with female co-presenters like he is having a man-to-man argument. The likes of Nina, Seanice and Crystal Newman have all failed to give him an acceptable sense of fashion. As birthday presents, people should be buying him long sought after items like shoe polish and shirts. Following in the footsteps of Balaam, he has the “standard” black shirts with stripes. He wears to work, to the Gathering, to boat cruises and parties in night clubs. He may even wear it to his wedding. For haven’t we heard that he has a girlfriend who he cares for so much? He says she is the hottest Rwandese babe in Uganda (see his interview).
There is only one person Fatboy has not had issues with. It is Sudhir Ruparelia, who pays his salary. Like the rest of us mortals, Fatboy knows that money is to be respected at all times.