Veteran Sports Journalist Stuart Mutebi passed away at 61 after a long illness, it was reported on Saturday.
Mutebi who has been bedridden for about four years, has been described as the best football commentator by a couple of his colleagues.
His illustrious career started at Radio Uganda before spells at CBS, Super, NBS, Star and UBC.
Tributes from those in the media and sports have flooded in for the iconic figure and voice of football.
‘Up there with the very best‘
Experienced Sports Journalist Ruben Luyombo who was inspired and ushered into the media by Stuart Mutebi, says that Mutebi is the GOAT of Football Commentary..
Luyombo says that Mutebi ranks among the very best Sports Journalist Uganda has ever had including Andrew Patrick Luwandagga (RIP), Hassan Badru Zziwa and Mark Ssali.
“I got to know of Mutebi way back while he was still working at Radio Uganda,” Luyombo remembers.
“And I used to listen to him always in the 80s when FM stations hadn’t come around. I remember he used to come in a show that was hosted by David Matovu for his Sports Updates especially about football and boxing. He gave a lot of mileage to those local tournaments that didn’t garner so much coverage at the time.
“Then he moved to CBS when they opened. I remember he had his brother Mpagi. And Mutebi was then playing at City Cubs with the likes of Moses Lumala.
“I one time met him in the field and we had a discussion, I told him how I admire him and explained to him that I wanted to join the Sports Journalism world. He encouraged me and told me not to give up.
“After my internship, Mutebi was at CBS then, he asked me to start sending him sports updates, and we could at times meet, discuss and argue about many sports disciplines.
“He told me that he wanted to usher me in at CBS, but I was still very young then. I later joined Sanyu with Masembe (Bogere). When Mutebi went to Super FM (new) in 2002, then Masembe and I moved to CBS.
“He encouraged me to join him at Super FM, and I did in 2003.”
Luyombo described Mutebi as “welcoming, very principled, willing to teach, listener and very respectful.”
“He fought for Workers rights. And everyone ran to him during the days at Super FM and he could challenge Pastor Peter Ssematimba (boss).
“I remember there are some games we could approach him and requested not to cover (Commentate), but he could remind us that we had set the bar high and couldn’t leave out games because everyone listen to us.”
Luyombo added: “All these modern day commentators have all moulded themselves around Mutebi or Francis Kyeyune. They are the pioneers of English Football Commentary.”
‘Best Commentary Flow‘
The trio of Stuart Mutebi, Ruben Luyombo and Francis Kyeyune joined Star FM at the invitation of Bwanika Ssensuwa and the Late Mulindwa Muwonge.
Phiona ‘Fifi’ Namiiro, head of Sports at Star FM, narrates: “We had a meeting and the three of them were introduced to me.”
“As head of Sports I am in charge of scheduling the matches. Though the trio were more exprienced and superior in everything (than me), they never at one time disrespected me.
“Mutebi honored all fixtures and did work without hesitation. He always guided me and offered brotherly advice on a professional and a personal level. He was always jolly and made a lot of jokes. He had the best commentary flow among those I have listened to in Uganda.”
Namiiro says that he still has the audio of Mutebi advising her to be cautious with human beings – “mwanyinaze wegendereze abantu.”.
On a personal level, Fifi added: “He also introduced me to working out from rooftop mabirizi plaza. He has been sick for some time and at one time was Paralyzed one half of the body. Breaking point happened when I visited him in hospital and he could only refer to me as ‘Taata’ – He wasn’t able to identify who I was. That’s when I knew things had gotten really bad.
“He recovered a bit and his wife started driving him around. He came to visit us at UBC and we had a converstion but he could only refer to us as ‘gundi gwe’ which means there was memory loss. News found me away from work and all I can say is rest with the angels big bro. You gave everyone respect at all time no matter the age.”
‘Turned Commentary into Art form‘
Aldrine Nsubuga, a former Sports Journalist at New Vision and Ddembe FM, says that Stuart Mutebi loved his job and turned commentary into an art-form.
“At a time when Sports Journalists dis-respected their trade with the way they dressed, Stuart Mutebi Kiwanuka (RIP) cut an image that made him stand out like a beacon – always smart.
“He loved his trade! One of the proudest men I knew who loved their job like it was the only thing he had in life. It doesn’t matter which radio he worked at, he demonstrated the same passion.
“At Super FM he turned live football commentary into an artform. As a field reporter he was one of the best investigative in sports. He enjoyed mentoring and a number of current live football commentators on radio learnt the trade from him.”
Nsubuga added that Mutebi was a jolly person and was argumentative and authoritative with opinion, and only veteran Hassan Luzige Badru Zziwa surpassed him in terms of Ugandan Football knowledge.
“He was the football voice that took over the radio waves after Mike Arereng and he became a cult-like figure to locals in the community.
“He used to call me ‘Owe mmamba’ because we share same clan and we shared many light moments together.”
He added: “The last time I saw him, he told me that he had slowed down because of a heart problem. That was 4 years ago. He is gone and got no idea how or why! But for a man with whom we shared passion for football, KCCA FC (as supporters), local football knowledge and down to earth approach to life, am saddened.”
Honestly he was really the best in my country Uganda unlucky enough am abroad
But may his soul rest in eternal peace.
He talked with alot of passion about sports,he was open about what’s driving African football behind.oh my God
There’s alot to talk about him
RIP my best sports commentator…