DOING IT FOR UGANDA: Jackson Pemba is president of Pemba Sports Africa, the company that sponsored Ivan Byekwaso for the Mr Natural Universe body building contest. Away from sports philanthropy, Pemba is a socialite. EDGAR R. BATTE caught up with him.
You sponsored Byekwaso to the tune of $20,000 (about Shs70m). You must be a very rich guy.
There are so many rich people in Uganda. I am the poor one but I give whatever I can. I want those rich ones to come forward and donate some money too. It is a pity that our sportsmen and women are always crying for financial support yet they raise the country’s flag high at international events. I call upon ministry of Finance, ministry of Education and Sports, National Council of Sports and Fufa to come together and make Uganda shine in every sports discipline.
You are making quite an investment, where do you expect to make a return on investment?
He is a friend and it doesn’t matter if I get a profit or not. Sometimes I date a woman and buy for her a car worth $30,000 (about Shs108m) so that is nothing. I am investing for the good of Uganda and President Museveni. I would do anything for him. If he gave me a job in any sports fraternity of this country, I would do a better job than most of his people.
How did you and Ivan Byekwaso connect?
Ivan was my friend even before we started working together. We have been friends for two years now. He told me he wanted my help to contest in the championship and I was willing to help him.
I told him that we are friends but we needed to put friendship aside and do business, so he signed a contract with me. I am his agent and manager. However, there are times we put business aside for friendship’s sake.
We would like to know more about you. Who is JP?
Jack Pemba is a social guy. I am a people’s person. I like to share whatever I have with people. I like to enjoy life. Life is short, so make the most of it while you can.
Where are you from?
I am a Ugandan and a Muganda by tribe. My grandfather fought in Luweero…ha ha ha. I am of Mamba clan.
What is the name of your grandfather?
Ha ha ha here we go.
(Turns out he is actually a Tanzanian national who has turned Uganda his home).
You must have quite a bit of money if you can spend Shs70m on sponsoring someone for a competition. What kind of business do you do?
I run a sports marketing business with some international partners from Europe. We represent a few players in different leagues. Previously, I invested over $300,000 (about Shs1.1b) in Tanzania. I invested in an academy and scouts for players but I failed because of corruption. I had a dispute with the ex-Tanzania Football Association president. I ended up unappreciated and being insulted. That is why I left my home.
What lesson did you learn?
I lost a lot of money because I invested in an academy, but I have changed the philosophy. I now only represent people who are already brilliant instead of nurturing them. My job is to take them abroad.
On the social scene, you have been seen dishing out dollars to artistes during their performances and tabloids have linked you to celebs like Desire Luzinda.
I am the number one fan of Ugandan music. Those people, the tabloids link me to, are friends. I have many musician friends like Jose Chameleone, Radio & Weasel, Michael Ross, Desire Luzinda and Irene Ntale. They are all my friends.
What kind of family do you come from?
I come from a family of nine. My father passed away and my mother lives in Tanzania. We are seven boys and two girls. I am the youngest of the boys.
What kind of child were you?
I was a very naughty boy and I loved football. I gave my father a lot of headache. He wanted me to become a technician but I wanted to be myself, so at the age of 18, I left home to go to Europe to study and I played in the Junior Newcastle Academy. I did not make it into the first team but I created good relations with superstars and millionaires and I am a millionaire today too.
Did you study up to college?
Yes. I got a Diploma in Sports Science and Management in London. That is why I am doing my job very well.
What do you think was your turning point that made you a wealthy fellow?
I would say that happened when I had so many rich people around me in Europe. That was the turning point. When you hang out with rich people, you become rich. When you hang out with poor people, you become a poor person.
Who are these rich people?
Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand and Warren Burton. I worked for them. I would do this and that for them. When you work for people like that, they give you something small but what is small to them is big at home.
What kind of work were you doing for them?
I used to clean their boots at Newcastle. I was dreaming of becoming somebody. In England, you have to clean the boots before you become a football star.
But cleaning boots doesn’t pay much.
It actually wasn’t for pay. It was more like doing things for big brothers, but it indirectly paid off because Shearer was one of the people who supported me when I started my sports marketing business. Now, I am giving back by giving out footballs to government primary schools and I intend to do this every year under my company Pemba Sports Africa.
What plans do you have for Ivan Byekwaso?
I have applied for a contract for him to become a film actor in California. There is a gentleman called Ian Deer, a movie director there. He is interested in helping us. He helped us get Schwarzenegger’s trainer for Ivan. We need Ivan to win two more championships. That will be good for our country and it is present we want to give to the president before elections.