“I CANNOT keep it a secret anymore because every day I see boys lured into sodomy for money or sponsorship,” says Tonny Sekabira, an assistant coach for the UPDF Boxing Club.
This, he says, before going into a narrative about a search for money and an opportunity to actualise a dream that almost landed him in the same predicament.
“My dream was to set up a vocational school for orphaned and street children in Bombo and Kampala. Orphaned at just nine years, I struggled alone for most of my life. I left my home in Buikwe when I was 12 and headed to Busia to forge a living. I got involved with smugglers and learnt to survive by smuggling radios, sugar and soda to Uganda and Kenya. With Uganda Revenue Authority always around the corner though, life was not promising so I returned home.
There, I tilled people’s land and worked on construction sites to combine resources with relatives who were willing to help me get an education. I eventually ended up joining Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces in 1991, and after seven years, I joined the UPDF Boxing Club.
One thing I always wanted to do was to help other children who grew up struggling like me, to give them hope.” So, in 2013, Sekabira decided to start up a vocational school for orphans but he did not have money.
However, he had hope that kept him waiting “for opportunities to make my dream come true”. In 2015, during VISA preparations to travel for a sports coaching course abroad, Sekabira got into a conversation with one of the foreign officials at the VISA office.
“He convinced me that he shared a similar interest to aid needy children and promised to help with financing my dream. He said he would have no problem coming up with the estimated Shs103m. I was excited,” he narrates.
The two agreed to meet in Bombo to discuss the finer details of the project, which he “insisted we do before I leave for my study trip”. On the D-day, the gentleman, whose details have been left out, turned up in Bombo on a motorcycle and rode together with Sekabira to a hotel in Kampala.
“We had a bite and continued to Kawempe where we met a young man, handsome, well groom and possibly in his early 20s. My acquaintance introduced the young man as one of his best friends,” he narrates.
“We did not waste any time at this place. We rode off and continued to his residence in Nsambya, Kampala.” At his home, I noticed that something seemed strange. For instance, although he was a diplomat, there was no security or workers in the vicinity and his vast compound was so empty.
“He told me he was not married, had no children and had no plan of getting a family.” Inside the house, a statue of a naked man with his genitals erect in one of the corners startled and confused Sekabira as he scanned through an album in the living room whose content was just nothing but pornographic photos.
“Before I could process what I was seeing, my host returned from another room to join me and started touching me.” Things were heading in the wrong direction and to Sekabira, it was confusing and beyond what he had expected.
“My first instinct was to hit him and run away but I remembered he had opened his front door with his palm to let us in so I would not be able to get out.” Besides, Sekabira was in a strange place and with a high profile man who perhaps had a gun or security guards around to arrest intruders.
As this ran through his mind, Sekabira’s host had started to fondle his genitals and attempting to unzip his trousers. “I knew I had better chances of surviving this by mental and not physical strength.
So, I touched his hand and assured him I liked what he was doing.” But he lied to him that he had recently been battling a fever and diarrhea so it might be better if he returned on another day so they continue what they had started.
“I would have said anything to get out of the house safely.” “Fortunately, he fell for it, made me promise to return and said we would go to Nairobi for a vacation. He handed me Shs500,000 for upkeep until our next meeting when he said he would have the Shs 103m I needed for the project. The moment he let me out of the house, I jumped on the first boda boda I met and took off. I switched off my phone and did not switch it on again until I left for my studies.” Such incidences have become common, especially among young sportsmen who are desperate for any opportunity to get ahead.
And as such Sekabira learnt that when you are desperate you need to be more alert, because not all chances that come your way are productive. Tonny Sekabira was born in 1981 in current Buikwe District.
He was orphaned at nine years before moving to current Busia District where he forged a living through smuggling. In 1991 Sekabira enrolled into the UPDF where he started a career in boxing in 1998 before going to Italy to study a boxing course.
Currently, he is the assistant coach for the UPDF Boxing Club. Stephen Langa, a counselor at Family Life Network, says it is important for people to have standards and values below which they should not stoop. According to Langa, there are people who bend so low and breach their values to get what they need.