For most people, working overnight would be upsetting. Not Pherrie Kimbugwe, the now deceased former Club Guvnor manager and publicist. She eagerly anticipated every weekend during her nearly decade-long tenure at Kampala’s top night spot.
Among her responsibilities were taking reservations and ensuring clients had the best experience at the club. This role provided her with extensive exposure, allowing her to meet numerous individuals in the entertainment sector and the A-Z class club-goers.
This, in part, explains why many people within the entertainment industry were overwhelmed with grief when Kimbugwe lost her battle to brain cancer on Wednesday. Kimbugwe’s death came as a shock to many since, for several years, she had kept her life under wraps.
Who was Pherrie?
Born Faridah Erum Kimbugwe on July 27, 1976, Pherrie Kim—as she was affectionately known in the entertainment circles—was the fourth of Prince Abu Kimbugwe Kalema and Mariam Nannyanzi Kalema’s 11 children. Her elder brother, Abdul Kimbugwe Kalema, described her as the glue of the family. She ensured they stayed tightly bonded.
“Pherrie was very generous, and this was evident in her profound love for sharing,” he said.
Per Abdul, their fallen sister became the spiritual candle of their family during the past five years. Though Pherrie didn’t have any biological children, she was like a parent to her nieces and nephews.
Despite being born in Uganda, Pherrie’s parents left the country for Nairobi, Kenya, during her infancy, where she spent the better part of her childhood. She attended Loreto Convent Valley Road Primary School in Nairobi until her Primary Six when her family returned home. Subsequently, she joined Kampala Parents School to complete her primary education. She aspired to attend Makerere College School for her secondary education due to its day-school system.
Pherrie dreaded the idea of a boarding school and believed she would struggle since her proficiency in the Luganda language was not optimal. Her parents, however, had none of it and enrolled Pherrie at Nabisunsa Girls School in 1991. They chose Nabisunsa because it was a Muslim school, and some of her sisters and cousins already attended, providing a support system for her.
After high school, Pherrie ventured abroad to the United States of America for further studies. She initially enrolled at Lesley University, pursuing a degree in Childhood Development and Psychology, with a major in teaching. However, her career aspirations took a turn during her teaching practice in a daycare, as she found the responsibilities associated with handling young children too delicate.
Pherrie decided to change her course of study and switched to International Communication and Journalism. She transitioned from Lesley University, which had an educational focus, to Emerson College, specialising in Public Relations and Media Studies, where she eventually graduated.
After obtaining her degree, Pherrie returned to Uganda for a two-month holiday with plans to return to the States for a job and a career journey there. However, she still loved being at home, even after her stipulated holiday time. Her parents and siblings persuaded her to stay home and build a career, to which she agreed.
Pherrie later crossed paths with businessman Gordon Wavamunno, her father’s friend, who interested her in joining his now defunct Wavah Broadcasting Services Television (WBS TV) in the marketing and public relations department. Initially starting as a part-time associate, Pherrie eventually became the TV’s full-time PR and marketing manager. Being the workaholic she was, Pherrie later teamed up with her cousin Isaac Mulindwa, the mastermind behind the famous but now defunct PAM Awards. She joined the awards’ organising committee, assisting with the events’ PR affairs while simultaneously handling her role at WBS TV.
Eventually, Pherrie decided to quit her position at WBS TV to fully focus on her role as the On-Air human resource manager and PR manager at Mulindwa’s Hot 100 FM in Bukoto. Even then, she continued to juggle multiple roles, working part-time with Crown Beverages on various Pepsi brand activations in the field under the guidance of Aggie Konde.
Explaining her strong work ethic in an interview with Crystal Newman, Pherrie revealed that she had honed her multitasking skills while living in America.
“I used to multitask while in the States. I worked in a retail shop, babysitting on top of managing my school and academics,” she said.
Fondly recalling her distinctive laughter, Mulindwa declined to refer to himself as Pherrie’s former boss, saying of his fallen cousin, “She was the driving force behind all our efforts with those brands at the time. She was trustworthy, strong-minded, and focused.”
The opportunity to work with Club Guvnor came when Pherrie was at Hot 100 radio. She needed little invitation to seize it. She assumed the role of publicist and guest relations manager at Club Guvnor in the mid-2000s, embarking on a journey that brought her in contact with the city’s elite.
During the mid-2000s, Kampala’s nightlife was thriving, and Club Guvnor was at the forefront, setting the standard for nightspots in the capital, a position it maintains to this day.
The demands of Pherrie’s new role were so high that she decided to leave her other jobs to focus entirely on Club Guvnor. She played a pivotal role in shaping the public image of the club and promoting its events at a time when nightlife promotion was still primarily reliant on traditional media, before the advent of social media.
Pherrie’s dedication and professionalism lent Club Guvnor an aura of safety and importance for its clientele. Her close friend, Nickita Bachu, who worked as a publicist at Club Venom, told Sunday Monitor that Pherrie’s wealth of experience and the trust she had built with her clients stood her in good stead.
In the tabloids
Like the nightspot she spoke for, Pherrie was a mainstay in the column inches of tabloid newspapers. Her romantic involvement with singer Omulangira Suuna took the public by storm. She became his manager and played a pivotal role in rebranding his music at the time. However, like several other relationships that followed, theirs eventually hit a dead end.
In early 2014, Pherrie resigned from her position at Club Guvnor after marrying Abdul Lubwama. She would join him in the United States, where he served in the US military. Her nine-year tenure at Club Guvnor was marked by tremendous success and helped establish the clean image the club still enjoys.
Picking herself up
Pherrie’s marriage with Lubwama hit the rocks, leaving her with no option but to return home. Upon her return, she dedicated herself to moving forward and embarked on several entrepreneurial ventures. She established a beauty spot called “Waganda,” launched a sugar brand, and introduced her clothing line.
Guvnor welcomed her back home, and she collaborated with them for a period until early 2020. In her personal life, she found new love, but chose to keep her partner’s identity private. She decided to step away from the public scene and focus on deepening her relationship with God.
According to her close friend, Olivia Mugabe, Pherrie began to question the purpose of life. She had experienced it all, from owning cars to visiting all the destinations on her bucket list. One of her deepest desires was to make a humanitarian impact by giving back to the underprivileged. This was a journey she had already begun and was wholeheartedly committed to during the final days of her life.
In May 2022, Pherrie was hospitalised and diagnosed with a 6.8cm brain tumour. According to specialists, the tumour was sizeable enough to compress and disrupt brain function, necessitating immediate surgery. This took place in June 2022. Subsequent biopsy results revealed that the tumour was cancerous.
Despite extensive efforts to prevent it from causing further harm, the tumour resurfaced in June this year. She would pass away three months after another surgical procedure.
At her funeral, Charlie Lubega, the proprietor of Club Guvnor, praised Pherrie’s unmatched determination in her job. She was laid to rest at her family’s ancestral home in Katale, Seguku, last Thursday. She is survived by her parents and siblings.