Back in November, I introduced you to Suzanne, the first of three strong women who feature in the Suzanne Jones series of thrillers. In April, we met the second of the trio, her sister Charlie, and in May, it was the turn of their friend, Francine Matheson. Last month, we heard about Chibesa, one of the other members of the team who play a role in the fight against fake medicines in Counterfeit!. And this month, the spotlight turns on Wilberforce Businge, the final member of the IHF project team.
No-one ever calls Wilberforce Businge by his full name. He has been WB for as long as he can remember. Even his parents only called him Wilberforce when they were cross with him, and that didn’t happen very often.
Ugandan WB is a huge character is all senses of the world. He is tall enough to grace any basketball team but is far too solidly built to be an athlete. He is proud of the fact that at 126kg, he tips the scales at 6kg more than his late father. He has the voice of a bull elephant and a thundering laugh. On looks alone, he could easily play a movie villain, but looks are definitely deceptive. WB is the stereotypical gentle giant. He is calm in a crisis, cautious but brave, and with a strong sense of right and wrong. His favourite expressions is: “as my late father, God rest him, would say…”
WB’s interest in medicine and pharmaceuticals began when, as a child, he accompanied his father, a doctor, on his rounds at the weekends. After school, he moved to South Africa to study, living in the house of an aunt. He returned to Uganda and entered public service, rising to the role of Government Pharmacist. However, he became disillusioned with the corruption he observed within both the industry and the government. With support from his wife, Constance, he saved enough money to set up his own pharmaceutical factory in Kampala and managed to make it a success without resorting to bribery. When he heard about the IHF project to counteract fake drugs, he knew he had to get involved.
As any of his colleagues will confirm, WB is a consummate networker and his contact list is monumental. There is never a journey, either down the road or across the continent, where he doesn’t bump into ‘an old friend’ or ‘a guy I was a university with’ or ‘someone I came across when working for the government’. Strangers find him larger than life and slightly intimidating. Friends recognise him as a strong ally and full of integrity. He has a tendency to talk too much and can sound pompous on occasion. He has never been known to answer a question concisely.
WB is a traditionalist in many ways. His favourite music is Ugandan tribal songs; his favourite food is the local cuisine. He is also highly superstitious. Born in April 1949, he is a typical Aries. His favourite colours are red and purple, which he considers as lucky; he hates black, an unlucky colour. He once consulted a witch-doctor and has the scars of tiny cuts on wrists, neck and ankles to ward off evil spirits. The scientist in him knows it’s rubbish and he never told anyone about it; but the superstitious side still thinks: just in case. He never leaves home on Friday 13th.
As the months progress, we will meet more of the key characters appearing in the Suzanne Jones series. In the meantime, if you want to see Suzanne, Charlie and Francine in action, you can find them in Counterfeit!, the first in the series, which came out last year. Deception! is due out later this year and Corruption! in autumn 2018.