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Shem Semambo was my best friend, widow reveals

by Editorial Team
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By Alfred Ochwo 

Hundreds of mourners turned up at St. Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe on Wednesday, March 23, to pray for the fallen former sales manager of Nile Breweries, Shem Semambo aka Kagusunda.

Addressing mourners, Grace Nambuusi, the widow, said Shem was her best friend.

“Semambo loved me and we were always together, be it at public functions or otherwise. He had time for family and loved his children every minute,” she said.

Grace revealed that while her husband was bedridden, she asked him to become a Born-again Christian and he accepted while on the way to the operating theater.

The late Shem Semambo’s family during the requiem mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe in Kampala on Wednesday, March 23, 2022. Photo by Alfred Ochwo

Shem Semambo’s children at the requiem mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Namirembe on Wednesday, March 23, 2022. Photo by Alfred Ochwo

Shem Semambo’s requiem mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Namirembe. Photo by Alfred Ochwo

“That is why you see me very strong like this. My husband died when he was born-again in Christ,” she said.

News that Shem was admitted in hospital battling transverse myelitis, an inflammation of both sides of one section of the spinal cord, broke mid this month.

During the funeral service, Dr. Rev James Kikomeko praised Shem for not forgetting God in all he did.

“From the time I wedded them in this church, he became my friend and he loved doing God’s work with the family. It is not simple to become as responsible as he was at such a young age,” he said.

Conrad Kizito, one of his friends, said due to Shem’s social life and skills, he became one of the top sales executive of Club Beer brand.

“He was one of the brains behind Unplugged Nights at Club Silk and Vision Group’s City Beat fans’ parties in the early 2000s. He became the music fans’ favourite who sponsored several album launches,” he said.

Shem was buried at the family ancestral grounds in Nakawuka, Wakiso district on Thursday, March 24.

How Shem Semambo changed Club Beer

Shem Semambo

Shem might have since left his job as sales manager of Nile Breweries eons ago, but he remains a trailblazer.

Shem emerged in the 2000s, when being identified as a corporate was the thing in town. There were the Phillip Besimires, the Eric Van Veens and Aggrey Kagonyeras in MTN, the Oscar Muliras and Baker Magundas (Uganda Breweries), Mark Kaheru and Peter Kaggwa (Uganda Telecom), then there was Shem Semambo, the lone ranger from Nile Breweries.

The other corporates had a distinct pattern. With company ID tags hanging off their necks, and white shirts folded to elbows, they patronised places where impressionable campusers flocked.

                                                             Shem (standing left) dancing as Mowzey Radio performs
                                                         Shem Semambo (right) in a traditional dance
                                                   The Semambos on a night out

They were a permanent fixture at places like BJ’s Irish Pub, Silk Ocean, Steak Out, name it. Perched atop bar stools, they made sure their presence and that of their brands was felt.

Then there was Shem. His fashion sense was different. His dress sense was inspired by Congolese Sapeurs who identify as a society of taste makers and elegant people.

He pulled his pants too high to cushion a mushrooming belly. He did not perch on stools. Rather, he milled with young and impressionable guys, who are presently at mid or top corporate management level today.

Shem did not struggle to fit in. He was custom made for his sales job.  Today, many people now in their late 30s and 40s confess they drink Club Beer because of Shem Semambo.

                                                         Grace and Shem at Navio’s album launch

“I remember I was at campus and we went to Club Silk for the Campus Night. Shem found us drinking other brands of beer.  He respectfully engaged us in conversation and asked if he could buy us beer. We said yes. It was on one condition that it was Club Beer. He bought us two crates. I drink Club to date. He is a good man. I am praying for his quick recovery,” a one Brian Serubidde recalls.

His generosity did not end at high-end places. In the slums, in the villages in run-down pubs, he did the same, earning the name ‘Kagusunda’.

For others, it was for sponsorship gigs from the brewery and all they can attest to is that he was a cool guy who was down to earth.

If you ever interacted with Shem, you saw a true believer in his brand. It is hard to sell something if you don’t believe in it.  Shem’s passion for Club Beer bordered on fanatical.

Shem’s astuteness saw the Club Unplugged Nights at Club Silk and the Vision Group’s City Beat fans parties grow to become fan favourites.

Socialite Dixon Bond Okello recalls that Shem always wore his signature smile when he found people enjoying his brands.

                                                        Shem interacting with revellers at a bar
                                                   At a City Beat Magazine party
Dancing to Bobi Wine’s music

If he encountered you drinking something else, he would demand a word with you.  At the end of the talk, both parties would emerge smiling, with one converted.  The converting was completed by dressing you in a Club Beer-branded outfit.

If you are in the habit of throwing free drinks in Kampala, you become an instant chic magnet. True to form, Shem was on many a nubile girls’ to-do-list. Did he bait? His wife, Grace Nambuusi, knew better. They were ever together at functions.

Grace and Shem Semambo

He had one standard introduction for his wife during sharing pleasantries, “Meet my lovely wife Grace… and don’t be mistaken, I am the lucky one.”

The two met as he did a brand supervision in Entebbe.

“The first time I saw Grace, I made my feelings known. She was not interested in me,” Shem confessed in an interview.

He later persisted and through emissaries, he later won her over.

                                                                   Grace and Shem Semambo
                                                           Shem (centre with a ball)

Shem was on many a nubile girls’ to-do-list. Did he bait? His wife, Grace Nambuusi, knew better. They were ever together at functions

“I once smuggled Grace out of boarding school and persuaded her to stay with me for two days. It never occurred to me that she could be expelled. It happened and it grew our bond,” he said.

For Grace, an information technology graduate at Makerere University, the feeling was mutual.  She found him to be a kind, caring, social and understanding man. Above all, Shem was always smart.

During his time in the corporate world, Shem was an active participant in the Mwiri Old Boys Association activities. He is a cohort of 1985 (Mwiri Primary) and class of 1986-1992 (Busoga College Mwiri).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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