For over 28 years, Matovu Aloysius Kizza alias Junior has been consistent figure in the fight against the HIV virus in Uganda through education, positive messaging and preaching against stigma and discrimination.
His activism against the scourge has attracted the attention of fellow activists in the fight, which has landed him podium appearances at a number of international events and conferences.
The latest invitation for Matovu is the forthcoming 20th International AIDS Conference scheduled to take place in Montreal, Canada from July 29 to August 2nd, 2022.
This year’s conference aims at calling on the world to come together to re-engage and follow the science, define future research agendas, shift latest evidence into action, and chart a new consensus on overcoming the HIV epidemic as a threat to public health and individual well-being.
The Symposium that happens every after two years, will have an exciting line-up of global health experts who will highlight the latest progress in the global HIV response.
Matovu says that for the Canada conference, he will travel with a team of 12 young activists and performer, that were invited to attend and perform skits on the sidelines of the event. He says he secured financial support from local and international partners such as Mega Standard Super Market and Baba TV, where he works as Media Manager besides hosting some shows.
“We are going as delegates but we shall showcase our drama plays and poems at the Conference’s Global Village. We shall also attend a Symposium of Ugandans who meet in Town Halls to pave ways on what they should do to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. We were invited as delegates but at the same time we shall showcase our skills and experiences from Uganda,” Matovu who couldn’t hide his excitement reveals.
The renowned media personality added that before leaving for Canada, they will first take their plays to various parts of the country to create awareness of HIV. “We shall perform skits, poems and hold interactive sessions.”
When they return from the conference, Matovu is optimistic that they will be able to use the knowledge they will have gained from the event to up their game in the fight against the epidemic.
“When we come back, we shall do many things such as traversing schools, perform our drama plays to various organizations and we also hope to go to Parliament of Uganda to show them the play ‘Because of You I am Alive’. We cannot achieve Vision 2030 when we are not taking part in the fight, simply because it concerns us all to fight the spread of AIDS.”
Ambrose Lwangoga, one of the Directors of Mega Standard Supermarket says they decided to sponsor Matovu in order to appreciate him for the time he has worked with them ever since they opened shop in Uganda.
“Matovu Junior is a very hardworking gentleman, down to earth and very creative. He has managed to come up with various promotions that have helped us to improve our sales thus making us the number one supermarket in Uganda,” Lwangoga discloses.
Team members speak out
Brian Rutinampora, one of the invited delegates, says while at the conference, he expects to interact with people from all walks of life and he will use this chance to enrich himself with more knowledge about HIV and what more collaborative steps he could take to ensure that the battle against the virus is won.
“The moment I get into this conference in Canada, at least I would share more stories with more people in order to work out things like how to take their medicine or encouraging people how to avoid getting infected or incase they are infected, to give them morale to know that they still have a life to live,” says Rutinampora, who lost his three elder brothers to AIDS.
For Mbawadde Helvin Gertrude, her hope is to see how other countries are handling the fight against the disease. “I have been inspired to attend the conference to Know where the world has reached in the fight against HIV/AIDS because this scourge have been with us for so long and many people have tried to fight it and in Uganda specifically, there’s a campaign dubbed the ‘2030 campaign’ that aims at fighting HIV with a vision of zero mother to child transmission and it will help us to fight the virus whereby even if when a pregnant mother has AIDS, she cannot pass it to her new born baby.”
For Flavia Namuddu, she hopes to use her exposure to build a network of warriors against the disease. “The reason why I’m going to this conference is that I want to interact with different people outside Uganda to know what collective measures we should take to overcome HIV/AIDS by 2030.”
The Journey so far
Born in Kisojjo, Bukomansimbi district, Matovu started advocating for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS in 1994 while still in Secondary School.
“I later started joining activities of Kampala City Council (now Kampala Capital City Authority) in 1997 and here I used to recite poems. Through those activities I met Noelina Namukasa, the lady behind ‘Meeting Point: Kyamusa Obwongo’, who looks after women and kids who lost their beloved ones to HIV/AIDS.’
“I started their drama group which became very instrumental in the fight against HIV. The drama group also got funding from American Embassy and other international organizations,” the father of five recounts.
Matovu says he was inspired to fight the deadly scourge because he buried his mother, father, siblings, and his friends who lost the battle to HIV/AIDS.
“I never lost hope. I went on with my participation in different drama plays about HIV. I wrote the drama play called Shadows of Darkness in 2001 which we staged at National Theatre. It was sponsored by Kampala City Council. I took part in many plays under Bakayimbira Dramactors, I composed songs in plays like school canteen as well as taking part in the acting of those plays.
“I took the footsteps of my elder brother Aloysius Matovu Joy and when he was in England in early 2000s, I used to act his parts under Bakayimbira Dramactors.”
Matovu boasts that when someone talks about AIDS, they would be talking about something which he knows better.
“I have trained one school house in Namugongo SS. The piece was about AIDS and it emerged as the best in the National Schools Drama Competition. I trained London College Nansana, still it became the best. I have never been defeated when it comes to training students HIV/AIDS drama plays,” the actor narrates.
“In the same line in 2006, when I went to Toronto, Canada to act in a drama play titled: ‘In the Thick of It’ which was about my life and family, the Rotaract Club of Kampala recognized me when I came back in Uganda, they gave me an award for my efforts in fighting AIDS. Other than Canada, I have been to many countries like UK, South Africa, China among others, all because of my HIV activism.”
As a media personality, Matovu further discloses that he has always used every chance he gets while at various media houses to speak out on HIV and what can be done to stop its spread.
“Up to date I do it at Baba TV where I currently work.”
“Meanwhile, I continue to call upon the government of Uganda to reopen NGOs that were giving support to local organizations that are into HIV advocacy. I request President Museveni to specifically lift suspension of Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) so that it can continue funding activists fighting for human rights and those into HIV advocacy.”