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Widow recounts last moments of departed Sembule Group founder

by Editorial Team
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By Umaru Kashaka    

The widow of the departed founder and managing director of Sembule Group of Companies has recounted the final moments of his life.

Ritah said Christopher Sembuya suffered a cardiac arrest when he collapsed before noon on Tuesday, January 11, while sitting on the sofa at his Windsor Crescent home in Kololo. 

She said they immediately picked him up and rushed him to Kampala Hospital in Kololo, but unfortunately, he died at around midday.  

“When we reached the hospital, the doctors immediately attended to him, but he did not survive the cardiac arrest. He died at the age of 85,” she told New Vision’s sister paper, Bukedde, on Wednesday.

Trying to revive business

Ritah said Sembuya, whose funeral service was held on Thursday at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Namirembe, died at a time he was trying to revive Sembule Group of Companies after being in the cold for 23 years. 

 The company also gained fame for assembling TV and radio sets. Sembuya’s dream was for every household in Uganda to own a TV set. Many years later, the Government tried to acquire TV sets for all learners during the COVID-19 related lockdown. 

 “He died while still feeling very bitter about his collapsed companies; he would wake up at 5:00am every day and ask what we could do to revive our business,” she said.

Sembuya, who will be laid to rest on Friday in Kikwayi village in Nkokonjeru town council, Buikwe district, left behind 10 children.

 

Christopher Sembuya

He died while still feeling very bitter about his collapsed companies; he would wake up at 5:00am every day and ask what we could do to revive our business

His children include the former Buikwe South parliamentary contestant on the Democratic Party ticket, Stephen Sembuya.

The former candidate said his father was a strong pillar of the family and the country at large, especially the business community.

“He used to sell steel products to many of today’s city tycoons on credit,” Stephen said, noting that one of the things that led to his father’s business failure were multiple loans that went bad.

He recalled that the Government tried in vain to bail his father’s company out. “The Government helped us, but not on the issue of paying bank loans,” Stephen told Bukedde.

The late Sembuya started Sembule Group, one of Uganda’s oldest family-owned companies, in 1971 with his younger brother, Wilber Buwule.

Sembule Steel Mills Limited, Shelter Limited, Sembule Commercial Bank and Sembule Electronics Limited were some of his companies that formed the group and were all worth over sh24b when they were put under receivership in 1998.

In early 2004, Sembuya sued the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank, which had been in control of his business since 1998. He accused the bank of poor management and failure to finance the companies, thereby crippling the business.

Sembuya also accused the bank managers of wasting the companies’ assets and selling equipment. 

A bullion van of Sembule Commercial Bank making  its way through traffic on Kampala Road in 1997

A machine operator at Sembule Steel Mills, William Jjemba, checks on finished iron sheets manufactured by the company at Nalukolongo in Kampala in 2005

 

 

 

 

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