Commedian Herbert Mendo Ssegujja, a.k.a Sevo, has for 17 years been the comical president of Uganda – on several occasions mimicking President Yoweri Museveni to near perfection. He has had his benefits and certainly challenges for marketing himself in the image of Uganda’s current president. Many people usually wonder what would become of Sevo the comedian when Museveni ceases to be President of Uganda. Would he mimic the next president? What if Museveni’s main rival for power over the years, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC)’s Kizza Besigye is next? Our reporters Joel Lwanga & Stephen Kalema met Ssegujja to find out what he thinks of his future comedy. Excerpts:
Qn: Who is Ssegujja?
Answer: Herbert Mendo Ssegujja was born on 27 September, 1983, in Mukono District. He is known by his stage name, Teacher Mpamire; a Ugandan comedian, actor and high school teacher. Now however, he is better known for mimicking the President of Uganda, Museveni.
Q: Tell us about your academic journey.
A: I started my academic journey at Bbowa Primary School, then went to Bbowa Senior Secondary school and then went to Kalasa College School where I stayed with my grandmother, Margret Namuleme, who is still living. I then joined Green Light High School in Namasuba, Zana. I went to Kyambogo University where I obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Education. I later joined Makerere University where I attained another degree in Music, Dance and Drama.
Q: When did you start mimicking the President?
A: I started this in 2001, during the swearing-in ceremony of the President; that’s when I started admiring his character.
Q: Why did you decide to mimic the President?
A: I love him as a person and his character. I can mimic other people but I am using this chance when President Museveni is still alive. I have had the talent to mimic people since I was young. You have to love what you do; you can’t do what you don’t like. Besides, mimicking [President] Museveni is selling. I can’t mimic [Dr. Kizza] Besigye because it is not in my interest do so.
Also, I mimic Museveni because of the character of the person; and not merely because he is the President.
Q: Many comedians in Uganda depend on their natural talents; can I say also that Ssegujja is in this category?
A: Hahahaha…. I am a professional comedian, Ssebo. I am a professional comedian trained from the American Comedy Institute in New York where I acquired a certificate of one year in Comedy – performance and writing – in 2013. It was under the sponsorship of His Excellency [President Museveni.]
Q: Have you ever regretted about what you do in Comedy?
A: I don’t regret and I have not faced any challenges because I mimicked the President. Do you think I can regret and say that I would have mimicked Besigye? You can just see this; I am very grateful with what I do. The only thing is that you may find someone who doesn’t want the characters you play, which is normal to everyone in Art.
Q: Which show made you happy in life?
A: My first day to meet the President; that’s the day I will never forget in life.
Q: What have you archived in your career?
A: I have got very many friends. I can take care of my family and I still hope to get more in this. I am currently constructing a house for my family. I have also attained four awards: Youth Expo Stand-up Comedy Award for best comedian; African Youth Discovery of the Year Award; the 2015 Rising Star Comedian Awards; and, Start Comedian Awards for 2016.
Q: You have a family, how do you handle the two, family and comedy?
A: Yes, I do but no kids yet. How I handle family and comedy is just that my wife understands the difference.
Q: We see you mimicking the President. When he leaves power what will you do?
A: I was not sent to mimic presidents or leaders. Whoever comes I mimic. I simply mimic a person, and God helps me that for now this person happens to be a president. So, I don’t do this because I have a stake in mimicking Uganda’s presidents. This just came as a coincidence, but not that I am specialized in mimicking presidents. Another thing; nobody sent me to mimic the President. This is just a talent, so if time passes by, I will do other things.
Q: Apart from President Museveni, is there any person you admire to mimic?
A: I have mimicked many people, like the news anchors, but it is Museveni, who is the most commonly liked. By this time I can mimic many people, so when time comes, I will mimic whoever comes along and falls into this game so long as I am doing it in its right time. I don’t gamble; I do what I am supposed to do. This depends on situation that is occurring at that material point.