Sports journalist Ruben Luyombo reflects on his 20-year journey with Stuart Mutebi

Ruben Luyombo (R) and Stuart Mutebi (L) during their program on Super FC | Photo Credit: Reuben Luyombo


Stuart Mutebi

OBITUARY Sports journalist Ruben Luyombo reflects on his 20-year journey with Stuart Mutebi

Shafic Kiyaga 12:20 - 23.05.2023

When Stuart Mutebi moved to CBS in 1996, doing township tunes and later "Akati kemizanyo" at night, I looked for him and introduced myself.

‘Farewell to you, Owemamba Munakasokoso Stuart Mutebi Kiwanuka,’ long serving Sports Commentator Ruben Luyombo eulogizes his fallen comrade.

I have been searching for the right composure to write a small tribute to you, but the proper composure eludes me.

I took these pictures in 2014 (used within this story) when I had just bought a new phone and had picked it up on my way to the station.

I told you, "Stuart, I took these pictures to keep them as a memory because I won't have any if I die without you." Unfortunately, I am the one showing off the pictures.

I got to know you before seeing you, and I can say I was one of your biggest fans. You were one of the people who made me interested in sports journalism.

I grew up admiring to be a front-line war reporter, covering wars live. I aspired to be a professional footballer or a journalist. 

We were born at a time when there was only one TV and one radio station, and we had limited sports coverage, unlike today.

We used to watch Uncle Ben Omoding and Andrew Patrick Luwandaga dissecting sports on UTV, and every sports-loving person wanted to be like them. Later on, Kakinda and Opoka joined the scene.

Ruben Luyombo (R) and Stuart Mutebi (L) during their program on Super FC | Photo Credit: Reuben Luyombo

Moving forward to the radio station, we used to hear football commentary with Mzungukanga, Charles Byekwaso, David Matovu, and Musisi.

When Mzungukanga passed away, Mike Arereng Michael came with a whole new vibe. Stuart was also doing a bit of boxing and was the new kid on the block.

There was a particular sports program on Radio Uganda every Tuesday night that discussed sports and concluded with all the local games of the first division in Kampala and Buganda (Big League). 

Stuart Mutebi was the man for that segment, and I used to wait for him to provide all the updates.

At that time, I was in Miracle Centre and we were playing in the first division, so the next day at training, I would go with all the news.

I remember Dan Ntale nicknamed me ‘Egiwedde’ (alluding to knowing the results of those matches). That's how Stuart would start his results reading on Radio Uganda, ‘Egiwedde’.

When Stuart Mutebi moved to CBS in 1996, doing town ship tunes and later "Akati kemizanyo" at night, I looked for him and introduced myself.

Ruben Luyombo (R) and Stuart Mutebi (L) during their program on Super FC | Photo Credit: Reuben Luyombo

I told him how much of a big fan I was and how I loved his detailed presentation. I expressed my desire to work with him if given the chance and asked to contribute stories.

He was welcoming and always guided me. He told me stories and occasionally provided me with transportation fare.

I told him I didn't mind doing it for free. Then I told him, "Okimanyi ndi Wa Mamba [Do you know I am your clanmate], and your other brother is like a twin brother to my big brother. 

They are always home together and are roommates. He said, "Ate gwe oli wamunju [Then you are one of my own]."

At the same time, I was sharing stories with Ahmed Bogere Masembe on Sanyu FM, and he used to host me on his Friday sports show at 8 PM.

A year after Stuart Mutebi, together with Peter Ssematimba, left CBS to start Super FM. They spent a year before opening, and Stuart told me, "Waliwo kyempanga, naye nkulowozako [I am planning something, but I have you in my plans]."

At the same time, Ahmed Bogere was hired to replace Stuart Mutebi. When Masembe moved to CBS, he took me along but alerted Stuart and Daudi Ochieng. Stuart just told me to hang in there.

Super FM opened with the 2002 World Cup, with Stuart and Kyeyune as the commentators. At CBS, I had no contract and was considered part-time.

Then Stuart told Daudi Ocheing, who was the Program Director and Station Manager, "Waliwo omwana gwengenda okuleta ali awo ku CBS, naye munzikilize [There is a young lad I want to include on the team, please accord him space."

Stuart didn't know that we had grown up with Daudi Ochieng, Allan Kasujja, and Fred of Radio One, and we were all crazy about media. Stuart was preaching to the already converted.

He called me in September 2003 and told me, "I want you to join us." I told my friend, Ahmed, "Banno ba guy bampise [Super FM would want me on their station], he said I can't stop you, but give me a chance to talk to my bosses and see if we can sort out your problem."

His bosses said they didn't have the finances at that time to take me on as a permanent staff member, but Abbey promised to try and fix it. So, I gave them a month to try and resolve it.

Instead of joining Super in September, I went and asked Stuart for some patience and also left on a good note. After sorting things out at CBS, I finally went to Super FM.

I found a very tough Stuart, not the smiling one all the time. He was strict and principled when it came to work ethics and doing things properly.

However, he was welcoming and treated me like his younger brother and colleague.

What struck me and humbled my ego was the experience in that building with Mulindwa Muwonge, Kyeyune Francis, Charles Okot, and, above all, the humility of Stuart Mutebi, which will leave a lasting legacy on me.

In our first meeting, Stuart asked me to talk and give an honest opinion about the football broadcasts. It was the first time, and I didn't have the experience to lecture my seniors.

Stuart Mutebi Kiwanuka | Photo Credit: Courtesy

We used to watch a lot of football at Just Kicking, which had multinational attendees and helped us a lot with the pronunciation of names.

I also used to listen to a lot of BBC Sports World, so I wasn't doing badly when it came to pronouncing names.

I was scared to speak up, but Stuart sensed it and said, "Ruben, totya wanno, tewalali senior yenna [Do not be scared[. We are all equal; forget titles. We win as a team and give credit to all of us."

I told them, "Basebo, tulina obuzibu bwamanya. Tugogera bubi [Gentlemen, we have an issue with names, we call them out incorrectly].”

Names like Carragher are not pronounced 'karaja' but 'Caragha'. I gave other examples of names like Hitzpeger, and they all agreed with me.

Stuart said, "Kati okuva nolwaleero [From today] when we say a name wrong, write down the proper pronunciation on paper and show it to Kyeyune and me." They immediately adhered and started doing it right there.

I told them we need to introduce something new to our commentary. People don't know how a goal is scored or conceded; they just see the net shake or celebrate.

Let's introduce the preview, half-time analysis, and review in our commentary. Stuart said, "Kakati ogenda kola otya [How should we approach that]."

I told him, "You give me the last 30 minutes before the game, then seven minutes at halftime, and 10 minutes immediately after the game. After that, we can go to callers and other news."

From there, I started the analysis segment as part of the Super Sport team, and we never looked back. We embarked on a 20-year journey, facing challenges together, both losing and conquering.

You have been our engine, exceptionally passionate and hardworking. There were times when we felt like giving up, but you have always been the force behind us.

You have pushed us to our limits, and along the way, we have sometimes lost focus and somehow disappointed you, but you have not lost faith in us. You have had the same passion and desire you had 20 years ago.

Sometimes, when you came to work and found that there was a problem, instead of ordering you, we would beg you, and your response would be, "Radio eringa polisi tegalawo, gwe mulimu gwetwalonda, tukolera bantu [Radio is like a Police station, we don’t close. We are here to serve the people."

We set a standard that we always have to keep.

“Muto wange, Owemamba, tukole tuleme kutta kintu, naye ekintu kifa." Ruben nkwegayilide bwoba okoyemu, ntegekela ebyokozesa ogende, I will be fine [If your tired, prepare the material for me, I will handle the rest, you go and rest],” You would say.

You would look at your boss begging you, and instead of ordering you, you would say, "Nogamba nze ani amalala ganvawa [I don’t have any pride, what do I have to be proud of?]."

You have been our shield to hide in. Everyone at the station with a problem, persecution, or witch hunt would run to you, and you would fight and put your foot down until justice prevailed. Obadde mugata nganda; you never left anyone in trouble.

You have been our flag bearer. Whenever you introduced yourself to strangers, they would mention your name next. "Ehhh yegwe akola ne Stuart Mutebi... [You are the one who works with Stuart Mutebi]."

We have not fought or quarrelled in the 20 years we have been together. Obade boss atesa, not alagira [You have been a listening boss].

You would always mention me in your intros, "Nze Stuart Kiwanuka Mutebi, owemamba munakasokoso munamwe ne team yoona Francis Franswa Kyeyune ne muganda wange owe mamba, Ruben Luyombo...."

Rest in everlasting peace, my brother, my boss, my mentor, until we meet again. RIP, the GOAT OF All GOATs.

Stuart Mutebi was laid to rest on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2023 in Kasokoso, Kireka.