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KABENGE: Top lawyer and jack of all trades

Julius Kavuma Kabenge, an advocate, has been a law don at Makerere University in Kampala for the last 26 years. He is also widely known in the world of Ugandan sports; especially football and kickboxing, not as a player but a financier.  

Kampala, Uganda | AGNES E NANTABA | He says although he has never been a player, he has had a passion for sports right from his youth and is well grounded in sports management. His idea is to approach sports differently; by ensuring that they young players grow professionally and intellectually.

Kabenge says in sports, it is a wrong approach to “put the cart before the horse”. He says since football is a social thing and there are many layers of people involved, it requires a “development path”. He says it starting with playing along the streets, schools, amateur football, finally, professional football.

“There must be a development path for the young people and if you are looking at receiving them at the top without creating the path, then you cannot get them,” he says, “Sports has a short and intensive life but can earn a lot of money for the players.”

He first got involved in Express Football Club in 1996 as a secretary and retired after 20 years. Over this period, he focused on reorganising the club and funding it for survival. He was also heavily involved in boxing under Uganda Professional Boxing Commission, as a promoter. Kabenge says he was involved in getting matches broadcast live on Super Sport TV.

He says social pressures pushed him into concentrating on teaching and legal work even though he believed more in entrepreneurship. He was born in the Makerere area of Kampala city to Christopher Kabenge; a businessman, and Robinah Kabenge, a teacher. He went through Kabojja Junior School, Mugwanya Preparatory school, Savio Junior School, St Mary’s College Kisubi and completed A-level from Kampala High school now Aga Khan. He says he received “the basics” from his parents until he turned 18 years when he and other siblings ceased being children.

“Even when parents had a lot, it wasn’t yours as they would only give what you deserved as a child and by 18 years, the government system was financially accommodative with free education to cater for all the needs unlike what it is today where parents have to provide through and after school,” he says.

He joined Makerere University to pursue Bachelors of Laws degree completing in 1985 before joining Law Development Centre for a year. He joined private practice at a time when people adhered more to the law which, according to him, is not the case today. He says while the old school believes that everyone should be law abiding, these days people want certain outcomes and are willing to step outside the law to get them.

He set up a private practice in 1990 under Kavuma Kabenge and Co. Advocates. At that time, the niche was repossessions and de-Africanising properties of Asians and that exercise required a lot of legal work and Kabenge did a lot of that.

“Law was largely about litigation and court work but this is slowly fading out in today’s practice,” he says.

He says, as curative and preventive remedies enable people manage dispute or settle matters out of court, litigation and court work are losing relevance. When he considered investment areas that were sustainable, real estate topped the list.

Kabenge has been married to Proscovia for 26 years and they have 10 children.

Kavuma Kabenge’s Liteside

Any three things we don’t know about you?

I have a strong will to do things and I choose my path.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Family and music; I have always been inspired by poetic music because it has a message to deliver and never grows old.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

The strong will to do things my way doesn’t please many people. Many people will want you to please them.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Deception; not everyone is straight but deceptive characters are a problem. It’s even worse when you deceive yourself.

Which living person do you most admire?

I admire Museveni because riding the storms of this country for donkey’s years is not a walk over. You’ve got to admire him because he has got so many lines of thinking.

What is your greatest extravagance?

In the past, it was football but lately it’s myself. I love fashion, cars and family, so as I spend on myself,d that includes family.

What is the greatest thing you have ever done?

Financing football is something many people around me were against but I chose to do it something I have never regretted it. The joys are there and the record was set

What is your current state of mind?

I am happy without complaints.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

The whole fuss about life; in Uganda we have moved away from the simple basic requirements of life and there is a lot of gluttony as people keep many things they don’t even need. We are not doing social investment in Uganda and that is walking away from things that create social capital.

What does being powerful mean to you?

The ability to inspire is being powerful; as someone talks, he or she can make you do things that make society move. The challenge in Uganda is that we don’t have many left.

On what occasion do you lie?

It’s not about telling a lie but being economical with the truth.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

The whole thing of putting on spectacles since I was 18 years.

Which living person do you most despise?

I don’t despise people because everyone has got ability and something to contribute to society.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

In Africa, man means family and being the bull in the kraal, it comes with fulfilling responsibility to others.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Being able to provide, a receptionist and leader by demand.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My children are my products and some of them are a miniature me.

When and where were you happiest?

In 1990, when I was getting married to Proscovia; I was being introduced to family and it was a major step in life. As you grow up, there are milestones and to me it was happy achieving it.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Inspirational speaking.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

My interpersonal life; the way I was brought up and built myself has been my way but I would also want to do what other people say.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Being a consummate educationist; not many people that I started with are living and still work at the university. For one to have done it for about 30 years is not small having joined Makerere University as a tutorial assistant and many people have gone through my hands.

Where would you most like to live?

While I returned to Uganda, everyone was migrating to UK because it was the trend but I chose to do otherwise. Uganda is where I belong, and I share in the language, values and culture but also whatever you put into this country creates a legacy for which you will be remembered.

What is your most treasured possession?

I own a few properties and being one of the owners of over 600 properties in the CBD is something I treasure.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

I believe that suffering is part of life as it makes us want to up the game. Misery is part of challenges that shape us into better people.

What is your favorite occupation?

Teaching to impart knowledge.

What do you most value in your friends?

Advice and warnings; whoever can do that is worth calling a friend.

Who are your favorite writers?

The writing today has changed moving away from hypothesis to real life situations. Those people of yesterday such as Michael Klein, James Bond and Harold Wilson had a broader outlook and would really invite you to see the piece as a kaleidoscope but lately we have people writing biographies. Those old writers did it better but we are pushed to go by what society does. Because we live in the capitalist trend, Robert Toru Kiyosaki, the writer of `Rich Dad Poor Dad’ is inspirational and makes a better reading.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Surprisingly, politically, it has to be former president Milton Obote. Much as he is vilified, he was a true face of republicanism in Africa. Republicanism is about opportunities for everyone unlike monarchists who believe that you have to be born with a silver spoon. I identify with republicans.

What is your greatest regret?

I lost mileage in academics and I have not written a lot as I would have loved yet I believe I have a lot to write about. That’s why I chose to go back and do my doctorate. I am doing it to write something and if I achieve it, I will have succeeded in life.

How would you like to die?

Suddenly in a peaceful way so I don’t put my people into suffering.

What is your motto?

Aluta Continua



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