INTERVIEW: Tumukunde’s Dream to Modernize Kwepena into Olympics

Simon Tumukunde is pushing to develop the old time kwepena into a recognized international sport

When Simon Tumukunde realized that almost everything was going modern, doctor he saw an opportunity and decided to modernize the famous traditional game Kwepena into what now being called Cheza.
Tumukunde, patient  son to a single mother, founder of Cheza and a creative consultant caught up with Chimpreports during the weekend for an Interview.

What is Cheza?
Cheza is kwepena which most of us in Uganda got a chance to play when we were young; though it was famous among the girls. In general it’s modernized kwepena. I designed a few things here and there that can make it go global or a game one can sit back and watch on television. Cheza is a game of a good cause and can bring in many impacts in our country both socially and economically.

Simon Tumukunde

Simon Tumukunde

What inspired you to create Cheza?
I had a burning fire within me and faith that this game can make it big.
Literally it just hit my mind in my S5; that’s when l came up with the idea. I thought about the Olympics, the game had never made it there yet it’s a famous game back home and l asked myself why we have all other games making it big yet kwepena is fading away. I realized that it’s because it did not have a specific framework followed. So I started designing the game and also the fact that I did not want to watch our traditional game fade away. So, I decided to modernize it by putting rules and regulations and making the game more productive.

How is the game helping the youth?
It’s helping them; first of all they come together and in the process share ideas, get connections and play the game that has deeper connections to their roots. You find many of them saying they missed the game. I also employ them in the process which helps on the problem of unemployment.

Simon says Cheza has a lot of health benefist

Simon says Cheza has a lot of health benefits

What’s your advice to the youth?
I not only advise the youths but everyone: our forefathers left us the game, it would be bad for it to fade away; it’s high time we make good use of it, make it better, support it and work together. I also advise them to be creative, work hard and never give up.

What are some of the challenges you meant while creating Cheza?
In October 2013, I went to the national council of sports and I presented the entire cheza concept to the general secretary.

He sat back in his chair and told me “mulenzi bino biveko genda osome” (young man leave this alone; go back to school and study). He went ahead and told me the game will not help me. He thought I could have stolen it from China; a game our grandparents played before us even before they knew China existed. He concluded that I should go study a bachelor’s in sports. I was so disappointed but I continued to explain to him and after a while I just left his office. That day I walked from the National Council of Sports offices in Lugogo up to Valley Courts because I was lost in my thoughts; I did not realize I had walked that far. After that incident I met with the parliamentary committee of education and sports and  they helped me get a copy right for the game.

photo (10)

Does the game have any health benefits?
Yes, a lot both physically and mentally. When l designed cheza with the help of friends, we created a court 10meters long and 4meters wide with a dodging ground in the middle. When you run in there for five minutes my friend, you may probably run 100meters without realizing, which helps you keep fit. Cheza involves a lot of movement, dodging, running, jumping all those different movements. On top of that you have to think fast while playing the game since some people are too good yet you have to measure and aim at them. Another thing there is a lot of team work without which you can’t win the game. This helps burn the fats leaving your body very healthy.

How do you earn from the game or how profitable is it?
Cheza has a business model of a five year plan; we believe that by the end of 2019 it will be bringing in about 1.5 million US dollars annually. That’s what we are looking at because of the products we designed for example the balls, the court, jerseys and many others. We have also brought many countries on board like Sudan, Kenya ,Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, USA and Canada. By the end of November many more will have joined since the processes have already begun. Though Uganda has a low acceptance rate, we have not lost hope. Kenya has a high acceptance rate at least that’s promising. I want cheza to be a self sustainable game in a way that it can go ahead even without donations.

photo (12)

Any new projects we should look forward to?
We have a fundraising for the Together for Her Campaign coming up that will bring together companies and people from all over to come and play cheza. The money will go to the organization to support the girl-child. Also in September we are starting a national activation for the youths and we are taking it all over the country starting from central Ugandan. We are targeting impacting on the girl child through the tournaments and galas. In the long run we will be educating people too. We will be also at the KCCA festival.

Your last word
I call upon every Uganda every African to support cheza our own traditional game and all other games. Let them come and join the game. I thank those that are already supporting me and Cheza.


Header advertisement
To Top