The cruel hand of death has snatched seasoned fashion writer, editor and critic Keturah Kamugasa. She passed on last evening after a short illness. Kamugasa, the head of magazines and editor of Flair Magazine at Vision Group, was last in ofﬁce the past week.
She left feeling a little unwell and was admitted to International Hospital Kampala (IHK) with chest pain. Yesterday morning, while chatting with a colleague at work who asked how she had spent the night, she said: “I had a peaceful night.”
However, in a shocking turn of events, by 3:30pm, Kamugasa was no more. At the time of her demise, Kamugasa was writing a column on style that runs in the Her Vision pull-out in New Vision every Tuesday, on top of editing Flair, a quarterly women’s magazine. She was the ﬁrst editor of Bride and Groom, the ﬁrst local wedding magazine.
She was instrumental in launching Uganda’s ﬁrst ever wedding expo, which has become a must-attend event in the past seven years.
Joining New Vision Kamugasa joined New Vision as a freelance writer in the mid-1990s and soon became a features staff writer, covering health, education, gender issues, but most especially, fashion which she covered with passion.
Kamugasa was New Vision’s ﬁrst education editor from where, she also became the ﬁrst Sunday Magazine editor before moving to edit Bride and Groom, plus Flair magazines. Asked about her philosophy on life in a 2011 interview, she said: “Celebrate life when you can. Life is either a funeral or celebration; I choose to make it a celebration.” Kamugasa was passionate about her faith.
She loved her God, sang and prayed and talked about it passionately. In the same interview, when asked about the most empowering thing she had ever done, she said: “Accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and saviour, nothing compares to it. I stand on psalms 18, verses 28-29,” “You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help, I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.” She has indeed scaled walls.
She was not only a passionate fashion journalist, but also served voluntarily on boards of several non-proﬁt organisations. She was passionate about mentoring young women, women’s rights; about personal branding and offered image consultancy services. Asked about when she ﬁrst started caring about how she dressed, she said: “From the time I was a little girl. I loved dressing my dolls; I couldn’t have enough of the colours and fabric. What’s more, my parents were image conscious. My father was the most elegant man I know.
He always took us to the salon to have our hair hot combed and every morning, our mother would brush it neat. Fashion is a passion I was born with, but it was fed by my parents.” Santa Anzo, a fashion designer I can never tell my life journey without Kamugasa. It has been a journey spanning 20 years and she had since become a sister to me. We prayed, laughed and joked together. I just don’t want that conﬁrmation that Kamugasa is dead. Even when we talked about death, it was never Kamugasa’s death. She exuded so much life and all we looked forward to a future that was looking so bright. Aggrey Kibenge, undersecretary, education ministry I knew Kamugasa from way back
when she worked as the education editor at New Vision. She was rather instrumental in promoting education reporting. She might have been known as a key ﬁgure in the fashion world, but to me, she was a rather proliﬁc education editor who groomed many journalists in that line of reporting.
John Kakande editor New Vision
We have lost one of the greatest journalists. Kamugasa was a very talented writer, especially in the world of fashion and she has over the years amassed a huge following. She has been a very interesting person who never covered up anything that she believed wasn’t right. She would say whatever she believed in, right in your face, a trait that usually eludes many and yet speaks of honesty.
Cathy Mwesigwa — deputy editor New Vision
Kamugasa loved and worked passionately. She never tolerated any kind of disrespect either directed to her or any other person. She stood up against the subtle forms of sexual harassment in the newsroom in the 1990s when there were really few female journalists.
John Eremu Features Editor New Vision
Kamugasa was a very objective person who would not rest until she got the best out of a story or out of a person. She was so versatile that she was able to edit any kind of stories. Through her mentorship, I was able to win the ﬁrst African education journalism awards.
Fans pay tribute on social media
Immaculate Ayebale She been a social lady ever happy and I remember when we met in one shopping centre that time they had just put a ban on buvera and she was like "these paper bags look wow in movies, but carrying them in reality is hectic". may her soul rest in peace.
Ayebale Chermaine I knew this lady from the time l was young. I read her flair and bridal magazines. Just like someone said she had fashion right in her head. I one time thought she would be my designer on my wedding. But it's so unfortunate that death has robbed her and it has not happened. RIP my role model, mentor Keturah Kamugasa Lydia. We shall miss you dearly.
Ahmed Bogere Masembe Bambi Fashion Police.....i didn't use to mix much with her as a journalist because my inclination was in sports, but I would read much of her works, and those few meeting occasions would unveil to you a confident writer on Fashion.
E'l Asiimwe When I was in S2 she came and gave us career guidance, and she also taught us girls about esteem and her life experience. I loved her. She will be missed dearly
Six years ago, Vicky Wandawa had an interview with the late Keturah Kamugasa about her love life. It was published in Saturday Vision.
Keturah Kamugasa is the editor of Flair, a monthly magazine. She also writes a column on style that runs in the woman pull out in the New Vision every Tuesday.
When are you unveiling that book on fashion?
I already have a draft and a publisher, so all I can say is, watch this space!
What do you do when you have a writer's block?
There are times when ideas just keep flowing, then I will write about three stories. That way, I have stories for the rainy day. I also read a lot of fashion literature, right from books and via the internet, to gather ideas for articles.
What is your philosophy on life?
Celebrate life when you can. Life is either a funeral or celebration; I choose to make it a celebration.
What is the most empowering thing you have done?
Accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and saviour, nothing compares to it. I stand on psalms 18, Verses 28-29, “You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.”
Do you remember when you started caring about how you dressed?
From the time I was a little girl. I loved dressing my dolls; I couldn’t have enough of the colours and fabric. What’s more, my parents were image conscious. My father is the most elegant man I know. He always took us to the salon to have our hair hot combed and every morning, our mother would brush it neat. Fashion is a passion I was born with but it was fed by my parents.
What do you like to wear when you go out at night?
It depends on where I am going. For a girls’ night out, I would choose something short. For a VIP function, I would choose a long evening dress, do the right make up, have my hair and nails done and wear the right accessories.
When you look at a man, what is the first thing you notice?
I love to be kissed. The lips shouldn’t be dry, cracked or a thin line. I love lips like those of William Levy, one of the lead actors in that soap opera, Marichuy.
Well then, describe your ideal kiss
An ideal kiss is one that awakens every sense in your body; sends shivers down your spine and makes your toes curl in pleasure! In other words, pure, decadent pleasure….
What type of men are you attracted to?
A man who smells nice, is well groomed and speaks good English. Men who speak pedestrian English such as whaati and the like, put me off. I cannot stand shabby men. I want an elegant man. Looks might not be that important, a handsome man can be unattractive because he is uncultured. I love a deep voice, a man who calls my name and his voice makes my knees weak and sends shivers down my spine.
What is that one thing that would be a relationship breaker for you?
Unfaithfulness. It means he doesn’t value what we both have.
Tell me about your love life.
I was last in love in 2006. I have not opened my heart to fall in love with anybody again. I was disappointed and locked my heart with a solex padlock and handed the keys over to God. When he finds the right person for me, he can hand the keys back to me.
Tell the story
In 2006, I was engaged to be married. He was romantic, and wrote the most amazing poetry. The dates for kwanjula and the wedding had been set. Three months to the kwanjula, we had a major misunderstanding and reached a mutual decision to break up. Fortunately, it’s only my mother, sisters and senga who knew about the engagement. If we had married, I would be miserable for the rest of my life. We had agreed on the most fundamental things such as how to raise the children, religion, we were both born again. However, he would not let me be me. He wanted to tame me, like he would a dog. I finally said that I would not change for him because I wasn’t making him change for me, yet there were things about him I would have loved to change. I desire a man who is willing to walk with me, is my friend and a lover. This man didn’t value me.
You must have been broken
There was all this excitement so breaking it off was such a blow. I felt lost and deeply heart broken. It took me two years to get over it. I left it all to God, if the right man comes, well and good, if he doesn’t, that is not the end of the world.
What advice do you give to ladies whose engagements have been broken off?
Do not blame yourself. Give yourself time to grieve, do not pretend. Get an empathetic friend to comfort you. Allow yourself time to heal, do not jump into another relationship for the sake of it. After you have healed, do a postmortem of the relationship, because it’s only after you have healed that you can look at it objectively. Look at the mistakes you made, so you don’t repeat them in the next relationship.
Are you facing pressure to get married?
I think my parents see me as a rebel and when I clocked 35, they gave up. Each time I visited, my Dad asked whether I was seeing someone. I once had a boyfriend who introduced himself to him. Dad was so happy yet I wasn’t even sure if the relationship would work out, since we had just started seeing each other. It didn’t work out.
Aren’t you scared of the proverbial biological clock ticking away?
I have a beautiful 18year old daughter. I would have loved to have more children, a son or even another girl, but not without a father, because single parenthood is challenging. Fortunately, my siblings have children. I have witnessed most of their births and watched them grow. I spend time with them and I just love it, they are my children. So no matter what happens, I already have children.
So what's the takeaway message for single women here facing pressure to marry?
Follow your heart, don’t get married because of pressure, do so when you really feel it’s the right thing to do, and as you wait pray to God about it, and shut out all the other voices, for he is the one that loves you unconditionally. Don’t get angry when people ask about children and marriage that is the culture in which living in now.