The story of the Rastafarian who quit music for poultry

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To many Rastafarianism is closely associated with music, blunt-blowing and anti-God beliefs but the story of one Roger Magezi a poultry farmer living in Nkokonjeru, Mbarara will change that picture.

Rogers is the former sole proprietor, singer and music producer at R-Angel studios.  After earning a little money that he could use as his startup capital, Rogers quit music and explored his talents in farming, a dream he confessed to have always had.

With a farm of about 500 broilers, Rogers is convinced he made the right choice and he knows no such thing as remorse.

Background:

Rogers Magezi was on born 30 years ago in Kachika, Mbarara. He attended Pentecostal Primary School before later joining Mbarara Modern School for his secondary education.

He was stuck upon completion of the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) due to lack of fees to push further so he joined Euro flex, a mattress distributing company as a salesman where he rose through the ranks to Western Region sales head in just one and a half years.

“It was because of hard work that I got promoted. Other employees used to complain why I was earning higher but truth was I was selling higher as well,” he explained.

Rogerson was sacked from Euro flex after a disagreement with his bosses and this became his breakthrough into self-employment.

“I didn’t like the way I was shown out and I said to myself, why don’t start you own business.”

He used the money he had saved up to buy recording studio equipment and started R-Angel Studio from his love for music and went ahead to nurture his dreadlock. R-Angel became the third recording studio in Mbarara and promoting local talent became Roger’s daily job.

“I worked with many musicians, most of them gospel but mostly I produced radio adverts. I also worked with Bishop McDan and Junior Klein.”

The studio didn’t work out so well and after 5 years, Rogers was out and very publicly out and the future seemed unclear for the music man but as an entrepreneur, quitting is never an option.

Inspiration: Rogers drew inspiration from the then Chief Administrative Officer of Mbarara the Late H. Kafureeka who had just invested in poultry yet he already almost had it all.

“I wondered to myself why an already rich man not to mention a civil servant would engage in farming and realizing how life changing poultry would be, I decided to join,” he said.

Inspecting the farm on a cold evening, I could notice how passionate Rogers worked feeding these uniform looking birds all frozen cold after the rain. In his red T-shirt, torn jeans and dreadlocks, Rogers wandered tirelessly inside the netted long room supplying the birds with maize bran mixed with what he called broilers’ mash and salt until electricity returned.

Due to cold we shifted the interview into his house where he furnished me with a photo album of his previous memories and in the corner of his living room I could notice a stockpile of what looked like studio equipment.

When I asked him why he didn’t sell them off he replied reluctantly that; “They were poor quality so even if I was to sell them, I was going to get any tangible money from them.”

From his poultry farm that he started with just 1.7m, Rogers has managed not only to buy several plots in his neighborhood but has also helped his sister study to  level that he himself never managed to attain.

He also has secured at least 14acres of arable land in Isingiro District but the most important thing he knows is having no one to tell him to do this and that.

“I take my own time to do my own things because I work for no one but myself and that demands as much commitment as possible because if I don’t, the losses affect me directly and singlehandedly.

Rogers sells his fully grown birds to hotels, supermarkets and individuals and every once in a while when he gets a visitor or feels like a diet change, the birds serve the purpose.

Challenges:

Diseases were what he finds so challenging. I recall one day when I had just started with 300 birds, a disease called Salmonera broke out and claimed at least 230 birds at once but I have since learnt how to deal with such cases.

Price and market fluctuations are other limitations that Rogers encounters in his line of business. When demand is high for instance in seasons of Easter and Christmas, the prices are very high but the ordinary days, we sell at 10,000 per broiler.

Future plans:

“Primarily, I dream of an expansion of this project to accommodate at least 15,000 broilers,” he predicted.  That is however on the long term because it will require a lot of manpower and capital.

I also plan to go back to study, join University and attain a degree in either journalism or business. And given the fact that the remnants from the poultry house could feed pigs cheaply, Rogers aims at starting up a piggery project in the mere future.

He however said he wasn’t planning on rearing layers and discouraged every youth who would wish to start up from starting with layers.

“Layers take a longer time to grow unlike the broilers and this means a lot of expenditure on feeds which doesn’t guarantee quicker gains and progress,” he explained.

Worth: When asked to value his farm-worth in terms of money, Rogers said he was worth approximately UGX 15m but if he added debts, he would clock 20m.

Advice:

I advise the youth who have the opportunity to study to use it fruitfully and to take entrepreneurship serious.

“Most youth prefer white-collar jobs a bet you Alex can work in this stink but there’s nothing wrong with farming. It’s a fortune in itself but realized by just a few,” he added.

He warns the youth against unconstructive relationships and to mind less on public opinion for it changes no one’s life. “A lot has been said about my dreadlock even in my church and I keep telling people, God doesn’t mind about external appearance but the faith inside after all it’s who I’m.”

What the neighbours say about him:

Charles, a boda-boda cyclist is Roger’s immediate neighbour. He said Rogers is more than just a dreadlock. “He is my immediate client because it’s me who brings his feeds on my bike from his supplier in town. I drive at least 10 routes each with 100kgs of chachu and he’s paying,” he admitted.

Juliet, Rogers’ ex-Landlord admits had it not been for Rogers’ quick move to buy the plot from her, she wouldn’t have allowed him to do poultry on her property. “ My culture doesn’t allow me to eat chicken so I don’t do anything regards the subject but about Rogers as a person, he grown from here so he is not only my neighbour but my son too.

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