Seremba, George

George Seremba

George Seremba

Actor and lecturer George Seremba was sentenced to death by the regime of dictator Milton Obote in Uganda, but miraculously survived a firing squad and lived to tell the tale.

In December 1980, after graduating from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, Seremba returned from a trip abroad to find the Idi Amin dictatorship overthrown and the country in a state of chaos.

On the night of elections on December 10, 1980, Seremba was abducted, tortured and sentenced to death by army Chief of Staff Brigadier Oyite Ojok, the right hand man to newly installed leader Obote. That same night, Seremba was driven to a forest that served as a "killing field", known as Namanve. He was shot numerous times and left for dead.

Seremba was rescued by nearby villagers, who risked their lives to help him. Through an underground organisation, he was given medical treatment and surgery, but was left with a serious arm injury. He fled to Kenya on December 28, where he was granted refugee status in 1981.

In Kenya, he resumed his theatrical activities, directing and acting. In 1984, he migrated to Canada. There he was helped by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) called Manpower and Migration, which found him the medical assistance necessary to recover flexibility in his left arm. The NGO also put him in contact with theatre groups in Manitoba, Canada. Seremba has since directed and acted in numerous plays. He also stars in television and film productions.

He is a frequent lecturer at universities in Canada and abroad on drama and African literature. He hopes one day to be able to return to Uganda and teach at the university he graduated from.

Despite the hardships he has endured, Seremba says exile has given him something of value, "a more elastic conscience I believe, and to cry out, always, against inhumanity to myself or others in whatever way it rears its ugly head".