In 2011, when Abu-Baker Mulumba broke his leg in a traffic accident, his Ward 2B bed at Mulago hospital was swarmed by visitors of all walks of life.
Among the more prominent visitors were local celebrities such as Jose Chameleone, Bebe Cool, Angela Kalule and Mesach Ssemakula, as well as chief executives and directors of several local companies.
And yet Mulumba does not belong to their social league. The burly 39-year-old father of three is a graphics designer at The Observer newspaper, who also doubles as an entertainment reporter.
That latter role is what has earned Mulumba unfettered access to the A-list of Uganda’s social scene and a bevy of high-profile friends over the last 10 years.
“The greatest treasure I cherish from The Observer is the many friends I have made. For me, friends are better than wealth because they have been with me in the good and bad times,” says the Ssalango (father of twins).
Mulumba is better known to many of his friends as Wakasanke, an indelible name that he earned from his work at Ngoma newspaper as a celebrity gossip columnist.
When Ngoma closed shop within a year from launch date, Mulumba was transferred to its more established sister paper, The Monitor, where he continued working as a sub-editor. At The Monitor, he got acquainted with the paper’s senior editors such as Ogen Kevin Aliro, Sarah Namulondo and James Tumusiime, who would later move on to start The Observer.
It was a leap of faith as Mulumba, a graduate of accountancy from Kyambogo University, eventually joined up with his new colleagues in January 2004. With no salary to take home, it was a far-from-smooth start to life at his new place of work. For three months, Mulumba survived on tokens of appreciation from Aliro. But having swapped his earlier job for the dream of helping start The Observer, no challenge would break his resolve.
On March 25, 2004, Mulumba saw the first reward for his sacrifice when the maiden issue of The Observer hit the streets. He had designed most of the paper. Getting The Observer to hit the many milestones it has achieved since 2004 has been no easy task, though. During the company’s first three years (2004-2006), for instance, Mulumba’s bedroom was the printing factory at the Vision Group headquarters along Jinja road.
At the factory, Mulumba’s role was to oversee the printing process. That meant not just forfeiting the comfort of his home for part of the week, but also putting himself on the firing line in case something went wrong with the final product. Having endured trying times at The Observer, Mulumba often uses his experience to put things in perspective for his other colleagues when the going gets tough.
He is also one of The Observer’s in-house comedians, often spurring with the likes of Hassan Badru Zziwa, and keeping the newsroom in stitches. Fellow graphics designer Moses Kabuye says Mulumba’s dedication to The Observer was best exemplified when he suffered an accident and yet continued to guide colleagues in office from his hospital bed.
“When I had just come, [Mulumba] had got an accident but we could talk on phone and he was helpful,” says Kabuye. “He is helpful. We share a lot. When I don’t know something, he helps me.”
Source : The Observer