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OBITUARY: Kato Lubwama, comedian and former MP, dies at 52

Fans praise dramatist as one of Uganda’s finest creatives

Kampala, Uganda | IAN KATUSIIME | From the theatre stage, to radio studios and to parliament, Kato Lubwama was a renowned figure in Uganda for more than three decades as he built a following in the arts sector with a successful career as a dramatist. Lubwama dabbled in music earlier in his career before finding his niche as an actor, standup comic and radio personality.

Kato Lubwama died of a heart attack in the wee hours of June 07 at a medical centre in Kampala. The drama legend collapsed and breathed his last when he heard that one of his friends; former Kawempe South Member of Parliament Mubaraka Munyagwa had been remanded to prison.

His death was announced by his longtime business associate and events promoter Andrew Mukasa alias Bajo. Lubwama and Bajo had a bust-up on a television show where the two had to be separated after a physical altercation.

With his large eyes and turned out ears, Lubwama became easily recognisable just as he was for his voice with his popular Kalisoliso programme that aired on CBS FM every morning. He had nicknames like Biiso, Bidugu bestowed by his multitudes of followers. Fans and friends have described the popular comedian as honest, passionate, charming and creative in his craft.

His many friends from all walks of life thronged his home on Martin Road in Kampala to pay their last respects. These included Kampala Central MP Mohammed Nsereko, artistes Mesach Semakula, Mariam Ndagire, Andrew Benon Kibuuka and many others with whom he interacted with on stage.

Kato Lubwama surprised many when he entered the race for Lubaga South MP and won in 2016. It was a year a good number of his colleagues in the industry joined parliament with hopes of strong advocacy since they felt that lawmakers and government were not catering to the interests of the arts sector unlike in other countries. In a recent video, he said he was planning a comeback in 2026.

Lubwama’s political career was as dramatic as his mainstream career. He revealed that he quit the Democratic Party on whose ticket he was elected to parliament saying he had been fleeced by party members and that the party had lost direction.

In his last interview, days before he died, Lubwama condemned the incessant physical fights among musicians. “Once there is no dignity and discipline, it is over for our industry,” he said.

Abbey Mukiibi, a close friend, workmate and Programmes Director at CBS FM described Lubwama as a man of many gifts and one who fulfilled most of what he set out to do. “He said he would build a theater and he did, he started his band; he was a man determined to do what he wanted.”

Abbey Mukiibi was one third of the Kaliisoliso crew alongside Lubwama and Abu Kawenja with whom the trio cultivated a loyal listenership for years on the Buganda Kingdom-owned CBS FM.

Born August 16, 1970 in Nkozi, Mpigi District, Kato Lubwama started his drama career at the age of 15 while still in school. He studied at Nabagereka Primary school and Old Kampala SS. In an interview with NTV on the popular morning show Mwasuze Mutya, the dramatist said he was a student of Charlie Chaplin, the late English actor and comic who rose to fame during the era of silent film.

“I admired the likes of Alex Mukulu, Christopher Mukiibi, John Johnnys who inspired me while I was in primary school, Lubwama said. “We have not yet got an actor like John Johnnys who had such an impact on children. The real impact of a dramatist is when he/she can impress school children.”

His many other talents was being a footballer and some of his contemporaries from Old Kampala SS include former Cranes player and FUFA CEO Edgar Watson who described him as a good footballer.

In 1994, Lubwama obtained a diploma in Music, Dance and Drama at Makerere University. In his long career spanning 30 plus years, Lubwama founded a number of enterprises that include Royal Theatre, Diamonds Ensemble from where he directed plays, mentored young actors and contributed to the growth of the industry using his talents and innovation.

At one point, Lubwama was ailing with diabetes for which he underwent surgery. Lubwama was married to Ann Nalubwama and they had children.

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