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Dixon Okello: The man behind events security

Okello during the interview with Sqoop that was held at Club Rouge. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWANO NONSENSE: He is a common figure at events,  manning the entrance,  protecting artistes backstage and in charge of crowd control. Joash Yose met and spoke to the events security expert.

Briefly tell us about Dixon Okello.
I am just a simple man with a basic profile. I fortunately went to the best schools in the country that is Nakasero Primary School and Kings College Budo for both my O and A level and then headed to South Africa in the Universal College of Commerce where I pursed a degree in Business Studies.

Nakasero was a top primary school long ago … How old are you?
I am old enough. I am no longer a youth. I have seen a lot in this world and I believe I am living in my future, this makes me 35 years and above.

Are you in a relationship, if yes who is the lucky woman?
Yes, I am a happily married, with a 10-year-old son. My wife lives in Denmark. I prefer to keep details like her name private.

How long have you been in this relationship and how do you handle a long distance relationship?
We have been together for 11 years now. We meet with her once a year, since we are both committed and serious people.

We see you at almost all, social events in Kampala clad in a suit and holding walkie talkies, moving up and down back stage, at the gates and mingling in the crowd, what job do you do?
My Job is to plan, coordinate and oversee security at events. I plan for an event like two or more weeks before. I get to see where the stage is going to be set, how the revellers and performers are going to come in and how they will get out. I also make sure that there is an ambulance for emergency. Generally I make sure the event is a success by providing the best security.

Are you attached to any national security arm like the police or army?
No, I am a service provider with dependable security qualifications and I have my own security company called Events Security services.

 Take me through your security qualifications?
I have trained from Egypt, South Africa and Greece and I have attained a high level of skills, which I am applying today in managing and containing many security issues and as you said, I specialise in events.

When did you start your events security business?
I started in 2006 when I used to do it on a small scale, because I had some other things that occupied me like travelling a lot out of the country so, I handled only small events. In 2010, I decided to go professional and started my own company. Now we are the best at what we do so we oversee security at big events.

Rumour has it that you were once a sniper in the special forces of the United States. What were you doing before getting into security at events?
People talk and I cannot stop them from doing that but back in the day especially in the 1990s, I did some undercover work in South Africa where I was based. I am not in position to disclose information about what I did exactly but it was about security.

If one is interested in your services how much do you charge to coordinate events?
It depends on the type of event, basically I charge between Shs3.5m and Shs6.5m. For some small events, I can choose to do them free of charge because I am not someone who is money-minded. I am a business man and sometimes we have to sacrifice so we can open doors to bigger opportunities.

What is your normal day like?
I wake up at 6.30am and by 8am I am always in town. I have my office on Kampala Road, above Simba Telecom. That’s where I sit and wait for clients to call me and we reach an agreement about whether we can work together or not.

Do you mean you turn down some clients?
I turn down many people. This business involves a lot of documentation, if one does not have the required documents, then he or she doesn’t qualify to work with me. Such documents include letters from KCCA and other organisations that show the validity of the event. You know in Kampala there are many fraudsters, so I have to make sure the event is legitimate.

What has been your best and worst experience while going about your duties at events?
My best experience was being part of the security personnel at the Fifa World Cup in 2010 in South Africa. It’s a highlight in my career. The worst experience was when we clashed with revellers in Luweero two years back when they caused chaos because Chameleone had refused to perform on three consecutive occasions. The situation was tense since the crowd felt cheated.

Since you are mostly into music events who is your best artiste in Uganda?
I love jazz music. This makes Isaiah Katumwa my best artiste since according to me, he is the best at that kind of music here. My opinion is that all the others artistes only do Kadongo Kamu music.

How have you benefitted from this job?
I have built a house in Bukoto, I also have land in Lira. I am not a rich man but I am a happy one. I also got to be among the security personnel that handled security issues during World Cup 2010 in South Africa. I managed to see and meet footballers and other big names in the world of sports.

Apart from coordinating events is there anything else you do?
As a man, you don’t have to rely on only one job. I don’t always want to go into the details of what I do but the only thing that I can say about the other job is that it keeps me travelling a lot.

What does it take for someone to be like you?
A tough skin. You shouldn’t have friends when you are at work. I have bounced my blood brothers who wanted me to use my influence to get them into shows. I told them never to come for events if they don’t have money. I have clashed with big artistes and MPs. Some of them even became my friends because they know I don’t joke while at work.

What are you future plans?
Like I said, I am already in the future, though I am planning to be among the security agents during the World Cup that is going to be in Brazil later this year. I am already having talks with the people handling the security.

Don’t you think because the last World Cup was in Africa  that is the reason they employed Africans? Are you confident that the security detail for this year’s World Cup in Brazil want to work with a Ugandan, yet they might be more experienced than we Africans?
World Cup is an international event, therefore they want to make it global. That’s the reason they will have to bring in people from different countries with diversity of skills and language.

Any last words to Sqoop readers?
All I can say is be safe and live responsibly.

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