PROFILE & BIO: In the past few weeks, social media has been awash with photos of an unidentified man who appeared to be making announcements at what seemed to be a funeral.
In what seems to be a village set up, the man in blue shirt and jean trousers with a phone cover draped on his belt reminiscent of the late 90s when mobile phones had just made their way into the country, is seen reading from a pile of papers from his hands.PROFILE: Who is Godfrey Jjemba Matte – the 68-year-old behind popular funeral memes on social media “Jjemba says before reading the announcements at the funeral, he first goes through them to ensure he makes no mistakes…”#DailyExpressUpdates
The photo has made several rounds on social media and different memes and captions of “Omugenzi” made out of the same.
In another photo, the old man is captured riding a bicycle to an unknown destination and the same photo made rounds on social media.
Whereas few people knew who the man was and where the photos were taken, it was later found out that the man who had become a phenomenon is 68-year-old Godfrey Jjemba Matte, a resident of Mbulakati village, Kitimbwa town council in Kayunga district.
“I am always asked to make general announcements at funerals in the nearby villages,” Jumba begins his story.
He says that in 2020, he started the job of reading announcements during one burial where no one was willing to do the job and he volunteered to do it and his services were liked by everybody. Jjemba never looked back.
“I offered to help out and people loved what I did on that day. Since then, I have been reading announcements at funerals and people like me. For two years now, I have been doing this and I love it,” he says.
The senior four drop out says whereas his late dad also used to do a similar job during funerals, he had never thought of following into his footsteps until he was asked to volunteer at one funeral.
Whereas at first, Jjemba was not aware that his photos were making rounds on social media, he was made aware of the same as time went on.
The most popular photo of his, he says was taken during the burial of one Ssalongo Fredrick Kateregga that was also attended by the NUP leader Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu also known as Bobi Wine
“He(Bobi Wine) also attended the burial as I read the announcements. However, whereas I read that the deceased had died of malaria, other people claimed he had died of bleaching. I had never known that bleaching can kill someone,” Jjemba says.
The photo taken by an unknown person during the burial made several rounds on social media and commentators made several captions and memes out of it.
Jjemba says that he later got to know about the fact that his photos were making rounds.
“However, what surprised me was the dress code in some of those photos. Whereas I was dressed in a trouser on the day, I was surprised to see a photo of me putting on a skirt,” Jjemba says.
He said that for two years now, he has gained enough experience to read announcements at funerals and that he is hired to do the job he says he loves to do.
“I don’t have any specific payment and I don’t charge the bereaved. They give me water in form of money and this is not specific. Whatever amount of money a mourner deems fit is what they give me in appreciation for the job I do,” he says.
He says that before reading the announcements at the funeral, he first goes through them together with the bereaved families to ensure he makes no mistakes.
He then proceeds to make the announcements to the large congregation that he spices up.
“As an educated man, where it requires me to read the word in English for the audience to understand the message better, I do so. I, therefore, mix both English and Luganda while reading the announcements.”
Jjemba says despite being popular in Kayunga and on social media, he hasn’t achieved much out of reading announcements at funerals.
“I am proud of this service to the people. I am popular and influential in my area. The mere fact that people single me out during burials to help them read the announcements is something to be proud of. It means you are popular.”
Jjemba says some people are envious of him for being a popular and sought-after person to read announcements at funerals.
He says this baffles him.
“I also feel bad about some of the captions on my pictures and the words that they purport to have been said by me while making announcements which are not true. It makes me fear for my life that some people might think it was said by me yet it is not,” Jjemba says.
The 68-year old says some people have started drawing cartoons out of him , a thing he says he doesn’t like.
He also says he currently doesn’t have a smartphone to enable him see what people say about him as well as a stable job that will enable him look after his family of 11 children and one wife.
“If funeral service companies can hire me to do it, I will gladly welcome the opportunity. I still have stamina to do it,” he says.