Godfrey Baguma, 45, aka ‘Ssebabi’, is a father of seven, husband and cobbler. He earned his nick name ‘Ssebabi’ after winning in the ugliest man contest. He lives in Kyazanga, Lwengo district, and is married to Kate Namande, 28, with whom he has five children. Vicky Wandawa had a chat with the couple.
I was born 45 years ago in Bubaare, Mbarara. I have no siblings and parents, only relatives. I was told that all members of my immediate family passed on when I was a child.
No one ever told me why or how I turned out to look like this. All I know is that since I started looking into mirrors, my appearance has always been the same.
Baguma’s first crush
At 15 years, I started working as a cobbler and made money out of it. It is then that girls started noticing me too. They threw themselves at me and now I believe that if a man has money, no matter his appearance, girls will find him attractive.
I had a girlfriend, but we later split when she cheated on me. Five years later, a relative advised me to get a woman to help me with household chores. I shared the idea with a friend, who told me about a lady in Kabale. Then I was 20 and she was 25.
When she saw me, she did not seem shocked. I think she really wanted to get another man and did not care about my physical appearance. I heard that previously, she was living with a very poor man. I think she was attracted to me because of my money.
The ugliest man’s contest
In 2002, I was mending shoes,when some people approached me and said they had an event at which they wanted me to be a chief guest.
While there, they took my pictures and among the poses they asked me to raise up my hands like a victor.
A few days later, I saw my picture in the newspapers that I had declared myself the ugliest man alive and that if anyone thought they would outwit me, they were free to try.
I was shocked and angry at the same time because I had not said so. The same people came back and assured me that I was the ugliest person alive.
They also told me that as a cobbler, I could not make enough money to sustain my family. They asked me to participate in a contest, saying I would make more money since I would be a tourist attraction. I agreed, and indeed I won.
That is how I got the nickname, Ssebabi, which means the ugliest of them all.
Today, I feel good, about it because it is an honour.
My wife was excited that I appeared in the newspapers. However, some people tried to convince her to leave me, saying I did not deserve her because I am too ugly.
Then, we had two children, Brian Twinamatsiko and Sharon Naiga.
First wife turns against him
Even after seven years of marriage, people continued telling her that I did not deserve her. She became disobedient. She would shout at me unnecessarily, especially when I asked her where she spent the night because often, she would return home in the wee hours of the morning. We lived together for three more years, but I was miserable.
Whenever I confronted her about her behaviour, she would assure me that I had no right of keeping track of her whereabouts, even though I was her husband.
One morning when shereturned home, she told me she was doing me a favour by living with me. I was so distraught, but then I knew she was no longer mine.
In 2003, she spent four days away from home, yet she had not informed me of any travel plans. But, I knew she was somewhere in the neighbourhood and indeed I was right.
On the fourth day, a neighbour of her lover tipped me about their escapades. I caught them red-handed making love. I immediately alerted the Local Defence Unit officials, who arrested them. While at the Police station, I assured her that our relationship had ended.
I suspected she had many more lovers. I had even become broke because I had spent almost all my money trying to please her.
Baguma finds another wife
For about four months, I lived alone. My paternal aunt, who lived in Nateete advised me to get another woman. One day, she invited me to her place and while there, I met Kate Namande.
When I saw her, I fell in love with her. I liked her figure. I did not have money to woo her, but my aunt talked to her on my behalf.
At first, it was difficult to convince her, but about one and a half months later, she accepted my proposal and moved in with me.
However, we kept our relationship a secret. I knew that if her relatives found out, they would take her away from me.
I wanted her to have children before I would meet them. Then, I knew they would have no choice, but to accept me. For five years, Kate’s relatives did not know where she lived. They found out in 2008, but we had a child then. I am grateful for her love and care.
Haters hit at baguma’s wife
Meanwhile, I was worried that Kate too would be discouraged by people telling her I do not deserve her. And indeed, her sister told her to leave me. She left me when she was six months pregnant. I did not go after her, because I thought she was an adult, who knew exactly what she was doing.
I accepted my fate, but about two months later, she came back. That is when I decided to marry her because I knew that since she had returned against her sister’s wish, she was ready to settle down with me.
To date, she still confides in me what people tell her about our relationship.
I always tell her that I did not choose to look this way and if she feels I am a burden, then she is free to walk out on me. Most of my in-laws now visit us. They are used to my physical looks, and are also proud of me because of I am famous.
Some people claim that I am impotent, but if there is one thing I am sure of, it is my sexual prowess.
Kate is also a good cook, especially when she prepares matooke and ground nuts, my favourite dish.
Going into music
Apart from being a cobbler, I sing. When I was a child, I always had harps. I would make them myself from wood.
When music promoters started taking me for shows, I hatched plans to compose songs.
I teamed up with my friend and we started singing. I have composed a song about the experience I had with my first wife.
I think women should not leave their partners simply because they have no money.
Money comes with hard work. Currently, I am not earning much from music or being a ‘tourist attraction.’ A few people give me a coin or two, but not the riches I had anticipated.
WIFE: His sexual prowess wowed me
So, you were waiting for a husband and Baguma came by. What was your first reaction?
I was extremely scared. I had never seen him before. I kept telling myself that there was no way I could live with such a man. I rejected his advances for about one and a half months.
What made you change your mind?
A friend advised me to start living with him. She said if I failed to develop feelings for him, I would simply pack my bags and leave. She said he is ugly, but well-behaved and respectful.
Later, I realised that his sexual prowess was nothing like his physical appearance. I also found out that he is a kindhearted, honest man, so I decided to become his wife.
Had you dated someone else before him?
Yes, I was in a rocky relationship when we met. And when I finally made up my mind, I moved in with Baguma.
What did your ex say when he saw your man’s physical appearance?
He could not believethat I had chosen Baguma over him.
Do people advise you to leave him?
They do, but I do not listen to them anymore. I am married to a famous man and I am happy.
What is the worst thing anyone has done to separate you?
Last year, when my aunt heard about our wedding, she was angry and said Baguma did not deserve me.
She demanded toknow whether I had failed to find another man. She told me never to go to her home. I confided in Baguma and we both brushed it off. But her words were taking a toll on me.
I was pregnant with my last child. I lied to my husband that I was going to visit my relatives and never returned. However, I kept thinking about him and within two months, I was back.
How did you feel while you were away?
I really wanted to go back to my husband’s home because I missed him and the children.
When I told my aunt about it, she said I was free to go back if that would make me happy. I went back to my marital home.
What was his reaction when you returned?
He was annoyed with me. He told me to go back, but I refused. I was determined never to leave my home again. We have lived happily since then.
What difficulties have you faced in this marriage?
We live in a small house, yet we have many children. I have five children. The eldest is nine and the youngest is two months-old. We also live with his two children from the previous relationship.
We are also having problems paying fees since he does not earn much. We have stopped having more babies.
What do you advise girls about getting married?
Once you find a man you think is right for you, do not listen to what other people say. Follow your heart. Money and physical appearance should not be an issue.
What should couples do to maintain their marriages?
Avoid quarreling. If one partner starts a quarrel, the other should keep calm. If both of you quarrel, the house will be on fire.