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MC Speed, Mbarara’s king of the microphone

MIC CHECK: MC Speed started doing emceeing gigs for free, until one day when a Radio West boss spotted him and gave him a radio job. This opened doors for him and now he is the most sought MC. He shared his story with Felix Ainebyoona.
Who is Speed?
My real name is Geoffrey Lubega but when I was going to sit for my PLE, I changed to Geoffrey BL Nabimanya. I am 52 years old and many people in Mbarara know me as Speed of Radio West. I was born in Isingiro District to Ms Ester Butime and the late Anania Butime, in a family of eight; four boys and four girls.

Is there a reason you changed your name?
I had friends with names starting with NA and we wanted to cheat exams by exchanging papers but because my name started with L, yet the sitting arrangement was in alphabetical order, I was forced to change from Lubega to Nabimanya. My family was not happy because I had used my young brother’s name but I ignored them.

Which school was that?
It was Kakoma Primary School, the best Catholic Primary School in Isingiro District at the time.

How far did you go with your studies?
After primary school, I joined Kijabwemi Church of Uganda Secondary College, but after completing Senior One, I failed to get school fees and sat at home for a year. I repeated Senior One at Birere Secondary School, where my cousin was the head teacher, so he paid my fees up to Senior Four.

What did you want to do after your studies?
I always wanted to be a doctor or lawyer but when I started secondary school, Sciences became hard and the situation was difficult, so my dream of becoming a doctor kept fading. After Senior Four I started working at Katatumba Resort Hotel and later started teaching at Kisulo Primary School in Isingiro. I joined Masaka SS for my A-Level.

Did you join University?
There was only one university in Uganda at the time, and that was Makerere University. I failed to join it by three points. I went to UCC Soroti for a Uganda Diploma in Business Studies and in 1993, I started working as an Accounts Assistant at Sheep tooth brush in Kampala before moving to Bugisu Cooperative Society in Mbale.

How did you get the name Speed?
We were from celebrating Christmas with my brother when we got involved in an accident. I broke my leg and was hospitalised for 28 months. My mother stole me from the hospital so that they do not cut off my leg. My brother took me to traditional orthopedics. When I healed, I started working with Speed Delivery Services. I was using crutches so students used to laugh at me that I was working for Speed yet I was slow. They started calling me Speed and I adopted the name.

How did you end up in the entertainment industry?
I like making people laugh and I was an entertainment prefect during my school time. I started working as an MC free of charge at functions in the villages until in 2007 when Mr Bibagamba, one of the owners of Radio West found me entertaining people and was impressed. He offered me a job at Radio West.

Did you accept the job?
Yes. In fact I went with him immediately. It is at Radio West that the public got to know me and to date they call me Speed of Radio West yet I no longer work there.

Did you stop emceeing after finding the job?
No, I continued since the radio gave me mileage. I was the first MC in western Uganda to charge money.

What was your first pay from MC job?
I started with Shs20,000, but kept increasing to Shs50,000, Shs100,000, Shs200,000 and now it is a million and above.

Did you give up on radio?
No. I have two programmes on TV West.

What was your turning point in the entertainment industry?
I was an unhappy man in life because I came from a peasant family, got involved in an accident, lost my job, but when I started emceeing my life changed. My turning point was when I was an MC at the giveaway of Salim Saleh’s two daughters. I got a chance to meet the President.

Do you think the government has given you the needed support in this industry?
We have the freedom to do whatever we want. The government usually hires us for official functions and when my car got lost, the President promised to buy me a new one after Bishop Sheldon introduced me.

What happens in the other side of your life?
I am a church man, serving from parish to the diocese. I give everything to God because he gave me the talent.

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