Monday, 22 September 2014


Ssempebwa has followed J C Kiwanuka the man with whom they got Buganda scholarships.
Mengo honoured Ernest Ssempebwa the gentleman who was a joint beneficiary with J C Kiwanuka of the Buganda Government scholarships and together they fought the odds of the Colonial masters who did not want them to study for degree courses. It remains a big debt on the part of Mengo not to honour officially the dedicated services of J C Kiwanuka. 
By William Kituuka Kiwanuka

Ninety-four-year-old Ernest Ssempebwa is a retired teacher and has been driving for 74 years.
He knows the traffic rules [perhaps] better than anyone and has never committed a traffic offence. He spoke toJoseph Kimbowa about his driving and his cherished Volvo, which is older than some of his children.

When did you learn to drive?
I learnt to drive in my brother’s pre-war Morris Minor in 1939 when I was a student at Makerere University. I was helped by a professional family driver from Nairobi whom I usually helped to wash the car, and he would in turn teach me how to drive. I got my driving licence the following year.

When did you buy the first car?
With a permit, I decided to buy myself a car in 1940. I was a teacher then at King’s College Budo and most teachers were buying cars. I bought a Morris Minor at Shs 700.

What was your experience with your first car?
Unlike these days, buying a car was very prestigious – a preserve for the middle class and the colonial masters. But I sold it 1942 when I was appointed as a private secretary at the Kabaka’s palace. There was a variety of cars [to use] at the palace and I saw no reason to [own] one.

Did you buy other cars thereafter?
When I went for further studies in Britain in 1954, I bought another car, a Morris Minor Oxford. I came back in 1956 and bought a similar car which I sold in 1959 to buy myself a brand new Morris Oxford saloon at Shs 15,000.

You must have loved the brand new car?
Yes. Having been my first new car, even when I was appointed as a government representative in Britain, I decided to take it with me. When I came back in 1964, I drove another Morris Minor Oxford until I decided to buy a brand new Volvo in 1968 at Shs 25,000. It was my favourite and I have driven it for 48 years.

But you must have been in love with Minors.
Just like Toyota cars these days, Minors were the commonest and most affordable, and could easily be maintained.

You changed cars a lot.
During those days, as government employees, we would get advance loans payable in four years and buy a car. It was thus easy to buy a car and change it after every four years.

Why have you kept your Volvo for that long?
The Volvo was a special car. Just like Mercedes Benz, the Volvo is a very durable and strong car with a very strong engine.

Would you sell it?
No. Even when it was getting out of shape, I took it for refurbishing and rebuilding and replaced all the parts that were worn out. Today, it is as good as a new one. I have other cars (G-Touring and a pickup truck) but I still maintain this one.

What is your opinion of today’s drivers?
Most of them are careless. Even when someone drives carefully, he would be surrounded by ruthless drivers. Today, there are very many cars on the road (especially in urban areas) which limits people’s hunger for speed and it indirectly reduces accidents.

Were you ever a careless driver?
I have driven for more than 70 years and the only serious accident I have been involved in happened recently when I knocked a tree in my compound while reversing. That tells you the story.

Can you still drive yourself?
I have a valid driving permit, which means I’m allowed to drive. These days my vision is poor and I have someone who helps me, but I can still drive my Volvo to the trading centre [in Buwambo] and back.

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