HUSTLER? He drives the poshest cars in town and gives out money for charitable causes. He shot into the limelight in 2014 when he started dating singer Leila Kayondo but the relationship came to an end a year later amid domestic scandals. Suleiman Kabangala Mbuga aka SK Mbuga then started dating Angella Vivienne Birungi, a Ugandan based in Sweden then. Mbuga and Birungi welcomed a baby girl last month and they are set to wed next weekend. He caught up with Lawrence Ogwal and talked about his relationships, business and assets.
Who is SK Mbuga?
SK Mbuga is a down to earth and soft spoken person. I was born 33 years ago in Masaka Kimanya to the family of Hajj Suleiman Mbuga. I come from a family of very many children that I am not sure what position I am.
You are fast rising on the list of socialites, where were you five years ago?
I do not think I am a socialite because to me, a socialite is a person who shows off in public because they have some little money that they can spend on cars and splash in bars Monday to Monday.
But everyone takes you as one because you live a socialite’s life…
I do not live that life anymore. I only lived the socialite life when I was dating Leila Kayondo; I had to move with her almost everywhere because she was my girlfriend. We would attend concerts together, go to different clubs in town but that was not my kind of life.
But even after breaking up with Leila, we continue to see you at different parties – those organised by the sangomas and we recently saw you at King Saha’s.
I attend those parties because those guys are my friends. When I go to South Africa for my personal business, I am always welcomed by those friends of mine living and working in South Africa. I have known Ivan Ssemwanga, King Lawrence and Ed Cheune, among others for a good time.
At some point people thought you are a sangoma. So what makes you different from them?
The sangomas or baSummer like how people refer to them only come to Uganda in December and return in January after spending the money they make during the year. The other difference is I mostly do my business abroad but I never forget that Uganda is my home. Whenever I am done with business in any part of the world, I make sure I return home because this is where I belong.
You have been persistent and popular on the social scene for the past three years; do you think Leila made you?
Many people think Leila Kayondo made me popular, but I do not think it is true. It is just that a few people who did not know me 10 years ago got to know me because I was dating Leila Kayondo.
What do you do exactly?
What you have to know is that I am a true definition of a hustler; I go into any business that brings me money.
What are some of the businesses that you are involved in?
I run many businesses in South Africa and Abu Dhabi, although I am not always comfortable mentioning what I do to the public. I can only tell you that I am an international commissions agent for different companies, I get a salary through commission. I am also a developer. I identify places and turn them into good use. For example, when I see a bare plot that I think is suitable for a beach or resort, I go in without thinking twice.
You seem to be involved a lot in international business, why not Uganda?
I have some businesses in Uganda but my main businesses are outside Uganda. The businesses in Uganda do not bring me income. I get money from them but it is little money compared to what I get from international businesses. The only business that I think will bring in some good money is NU-SHIFAH hospital that I am building in Kansanga. I think and hope it will be open for business mid next year.
Talking about the hospital, why venture into healthcare and not something like a casino or bar?
One thing people do not know about me is that I am considerate and care about others. As some people are busy enjoying life somewhere, others are struggling in hospital and dying. Why venture into any other business when I can put up hospital facilities to save lives?
Since you are considerate, are the services at the NU-SHIFAH going to be free?
Not really, but I do not think it will charge as much as people have been paying to travel to India or London for treatment. I would wish to work with the government when my hospital is complete and see how we can have helicopter ambulances and good doctors that can treat cancer, kidney failure, as well as heart and brain diseases, among others. It will save the transport costs that people have been paying for treatment abroad.
We hear most of the buildings in town are owned by politicians and other anonymous people, how sure are we that you are the real owner of the hospital?
I am a hardworking person and first of all I am not into politics or friends with a particular politician. I only support the current government because it is the one I have grown up under. Plus, I do not have a problem with the government because we are living in a free and peaceful country.
Tell us about your love for cars.
I have grown up loving cars and I acquired my first car at 20. To me, cars are like my big boy toys. The young boys play with toys but the big boys play with real cars, but I prefer to call them toys.
What was your first car?
I cannot really recall because I have driven over 500 cars (really??) in my life. In my compound at home, I have different types of cars which include the Range Rover Sport, Hummer, Mercedes Benz, BMW X6, Jeep Grand Cherokee and an Audi, among others. The latest cars that I shipped in last week from Dubai were the Rolls Royce Ghost and the Ferrari.
Those two cars were impounded by URA because of unpaid taxes. Did you intend to evade the taxes?
Many people did not understand this and they blew it out of proportion, especially the tabloids. I only delayed to pay the Shs160m, which I later did along with Shs20m for my Ferrari’s number plate. The only issue was an official from URA who wanted a bribe of Shs30m from me to clear the car from a bond in Kampala. I am a compliant tax payer and why would I evade taxes and instead bribe someone?
There is a rumour that all the cars you own are stolen and you buy them cheaply.
Who wouldn’t want to buy the latest Range Rover, Mercedez Benz, a Rolls Royce and a Ferrari cheaply? Why is it only me that has them? If everyone knew where those cars are sold cheaply, they would all want to own them. I am the only owner of a Rolls Royce Ghost and a Ferrari 2012 in Uganda.
You have a wedding next weekend, how have you planned for it?
The wedding, unlike others will start on Monday November 21 and we shall climax on Saturday November 26 which is the D-day. On Monday we shall have the Bachelorette party for my wife Vivienne Birungi, it will be at Club Guvnor and the next day, I will have my Bachelor Party in Liquid Silk in Bugolobi. Monday and Tuesday will be limited to a few friends and family and on Wednesday, it will be open bar for our fans at Liquid Silk. We shall do the kwanjula (Introduction) after party on Thursday and Friday at different bars and it will still be open bar until the wedding on Saturday.
Where is the wedding reception going to be?
After the wedding (An-Nikah in Islam) which will be at Kibuli Mosque led by by the Head of Imams in Uganda Sheikh Nuhu Muzaata, we shall have the reception at Kampala Serena Hotel’s Victoria Hall.
Will you have any special guests at the wedding?
Yes, very many and most of them will come from United Arab Emirates and South Africa. There will be royal families from mostly Abu Dhabi.
Why have you decided to invite mainly international guests?
Since I am an international businessman, I have made friends with people in UAE, South Africa and other parts of the world.
How will your fans access the reception?
I am working with Sylvia Owori on this. She will handle the other guests and whoever wants to access the venue should inbox her on her social media pages or contact her directly. The space is enough to accommodate all those who want to be part of the wedding and entrance will be free.
How much was put aside for Leila because we heard she is among the day’s performers at the wedding?
There will be artistes performing but I do not know about Leila Kayondo being one of them. Even though she badly wanted to, the organising committee would not even let her perform at my wedding.
You chose this year’s Miss Uganda to be the ambassador of SK Mbuga’s Foundation, why her?
When I was looking for an ambassador, I did not look at a particular person. I wanted to create a job for one of the contestants. When I talked to the organisers, they told me to choose a slot and the winner in that slot would be the ambassador. I chose Miss Popularity and coincidentally she ended up Miss Uganda too.
What is the ambassador’s role at the foundation?
SK Mbuga Foundation, is a home that looks after less-privileged people. The ambassador’s role in the foundation is not really there, I only needed someone to offer a post and a job.
How long do you think you are going to work with her?
It will depend on how she works and gets along with me, but for now the contract is one year.
Please share with us your success story.
I have never shared any story with anyone because I do not think I am successful. When construction at my hospital is complete and it is running smoothly and there are no more patients travelling abroad, I will then comfortably say I am a successful person. That is when I will tell my story.
Did you attend school?
Whether I attended school or not is still part of my success story so I do not think I can still share it with you, until it is the right time.
What are your last words to youth who look up to you?
Youth abroad should come back and work in Uganda. Money is in Uganda and not abroad. If they decide to work abroad then let them bring the money back home. They should pick a leaf from foreigners working in Uganda. If we all do the same, then Uganda will be a better country.