This is not a picture of the memorable moment because none of us had mobile phones with cameras back then. Photo cortesy of Seth Doyle via stocksnap
Kayita took me to school and paid for my education through primary school. That first day I made a firm promise that I was going to do the same for a child when I grew up. Thanks to my soccer skills I could to go to secondary school and to college without paying fees. At college I joined the music department and discovered dance.
In 2007, I graduated from college as a teacher. Although life in Kampala had been free of war for 30 years now, children were still hanging around in the streets, going through the same cruel lessons of their own ghetto. Children with no hope, pushed into hustling for a few coins, I could see myself all over again and I knew it was up to me this time. I managed to convince the headteacher of the school I worked in to allow some children in and charge the school fees to my salary. Over that time, I lived on half of my salary and the rest paid for their education.
I spotted a bright little 7-year-old, he had a lot of energy and he was so quick-witted. When he was hustling, he did it with a big grin and an air of self-respect. I saw he had talent and that his smile was so contagious he made even the grumpiest of observers chuckle.
‘Will you be my manager?’ he asked me, ‘Because I’m gonna be a star and I’ll need a manager.’
‘So, what’s the name of this rising star?’ I asked him, a bit gobsmacked but impressed by his persuasiveness.
‘Alex will do for now,’ he told me, ‘Alex Ssempijja’.
There was no holding him back. As fast as I taught him to dance, he practiced and he nailed it. It wasn’t always easy but he pushed on ahead with that conviction he had, he needed no encouragement. At the same time, I had him going to school and our schedule was intense.