Zari has not been reported to slip into depression. Instead, she fought back and organized the biggest color themed party in Uganda.
2017! What a year. Uganda hasn’t had many like this. And as is the case every end of the year, we reflect on people that have made headlines in their fields of work.
People in sports, music, politics, journalism, comedy, and Entrepreneurship whose works have tremored Uganda. This is the list of the top 10 that changed the landscapes of their fields of work and consequently, hoisted the Ugandan flag high up there.
10. Alex Muhangi (Comedy)
Many Ugandans will argue that the biggest comedy scenes this year were in Parliament. And they might be right. But those were short lived. It is hard to be funny for more than a month. Two years is deemed a wild ambition. You will either run out of jokes or the jokes will run out of you. It is even harder if you are doing a show every week.
It’s worse if you are working with the Ugandan audience. (They get excited about a fun activity, individual, artiste, place, bar, sports so they give them a ladder to climb to the very apex of societal adulation and after a month or so, they disentangle and remove all the ladder’s reinforcements and move on with their lives.) And that is why comedian Alex Muhangi deserves a standing ovation.
He started his brand, Comedy Store on April 28, 2016 at Diners Lounge in Bukoto. Like many other comedy shows, his was given a life expectancy of 6 months. After all, aren’t the line-up of comedians used by other failed comedy schemes the same? 2 years later, and he is strong and running.
While other comedy fits are crumbling and falling and grappling with how to keep an audience, Alex Muhangi is walking with his head held high. The Comedy Store is the biggest weekly comedy show in the country. And that is not normal. But what is even more extraordinary is the way he handled a scuffle that threatened to end comedy store.
While away for the UNAA event in the USA, the management of diners reportedly handed his show over to a new team of comedians to handle it. Comedian Ronnie Mcvex (whose craft is actually good) was fronted as the new host. When Alex Muhangi came back, he disagreed with the management on how he wanted to run the show.
In his words, Comedy Store’s Agenda’s were different from those of the bar. “I have decided to move to the 400, next to Diners,” he said. And those that hadn’t attended his show, a cocktail of comedy, dance, live music and musical artistry feared for him. They thought he’d cut the proverbial ‘hand that feeds him.’
Around the same time, he was at logger heads with close friend, Idringi Salvador who seemed to side with Diners Lounge. But when he held his first show at 400 bar, his crowd showed up. The whole of it. He even displayed maturity by advertising Idringi Salvador’s comedy show on his wall at a time when the two were bitter with each other. His show is still a success. And that is the kind of personality worth recognition.
9. Stella Nyanzi
There is brashness, and there is crazy. Stella Nyanzi is a cocktail of all that, and more. Her writing skills are quite the spectacle. And her social media audience loves and exalts her for that. Her wild metaphors, most of which boarder on profanity, had taken her posts places.
So much that international media (of course flanked by lots of local media) became attentive. In May and April, her name was the subject of international headlines like BBC. She had done the unthinkable. She had ruffled the wrong feathers, or rather, the biggest feathers in the country. She dared, because her mighty grasp of the queen’s language would make anyone a dare devil, involve the First Lady Janet Kataaha Museveni in her posts. She inappropriately referenced her in one of her anti-government posts, and she paid dearly for it.
She was thrown into Luzira Prison for a social media post. Now that’s rare. She became the first personality to be penalized for her opinion on social media. That’s up there.
8. Nancy Kacungira
Nancy Kacungira, sister to Seanice Kacungira, has had her nudge with fame, but not as much as she did this year. She and Seanice are the proprietors of arguably the most competent Digital Marketing Agency in Uganda, Blu Flamingo.
She also made headlines when, as a moderator of the presidential debate, she bullied many of the presidential candidates with her intellect, hence proving why she was the ‘woman’ for the job.
And we thought that was the end of her winning streak. Except, it wasn’t. In 2017, she joined BBC TV as a presenter on a program called Focus on Africa. Now as a Ugandan journalist, that is a great stride that Uganda needs to celebrate.
7. Zarina Tlale
There will not be a time in Uganda when someone without as much as a talent is celebrated the way Zarina Hassan Tlale is. She loves the news. But the news loves her more. She is just the epic epiphany of how the spotlight can rid people of a sense of being. She has had a rough year, but she sailed right through it.
When she lost the father of her kids, tycoon Ivan Ssemwanga, the world expected to see her at her worst. Instead, her behavior (constant social media updates, beautifully stage managed fashionable pictures) during the funeral moments birthed the ‘slaying on the grave’ hashtag.
She also lost her mum, and found out that her husband, Tanzanian musical artiste Diamond Platnumz is fathering a baby with another woman (Hamisa Mobetto) in the same year. Yet she didn’t break down. She has not been reported to slip into depression. Instead, she fought back and organized the biggest color themed party in Uganda. The All White Party at Club Guvnor that sold out. She is, truly, a woman of steel.
6. Eddy Kenzo
Musial Artiste Eddy Kenzo is not as sung as he deserves in Uganda. But across the borders, he is a darling. This year, his hit song, Jubilation secured him a number of African Tours. All of which were wild successes. He also won 2 Afrima Awards; Best Male Artist in East Africa& Best Album.
5. Steve Jean
If there is anyone who stays in the shadows of good work, it is Steve Jean. The proprietor of Fenon Events has taken over the entertainment world. Courtesy of his creativity, and edgy deliveries, Fenon Events have delivered the best events in the country in 2017.
They were behind the famous Abryanz Style and Fashion awards’ magnificent production. The highlight of which was the Beauty and the Beast themed showcase by Nigerian Designer Mai Ataffo where the Fenon team pulled off a complex theatrical display, merging occurrences on stage with screen displays.
He is without a doubt, the best at what he does in the country and he has proved so this year.
4.Triplets Ghetto Kids
Talk about talent paying off. The famous Sitya Loss aka Ghetto Kids are finally basking in their rightful adulation. They were featured in superstar rapper French Montana and Swae Lee’s video ‘Unforgettable’ and courtesy of it, they were invited to perform at the BET awards in California alongside the same artistes.
They rubbed shoulders with big time Hollywood and European celebrities. They also went on a mini European Tour, performing in different places. While at it, they kept the Ugandan flag held high.
Ugandan Goal Keeper Denis Onyango was last year named the CAF African Player of the year because of his work at Mamelodi Sundowns. This year still, he was shortlisted by CAF in the African Player of the year category and Player of the year (based in Africa) categories. He has managed to hoist and keep the Ugandan flag high up there in the whole of his career.
2. Bobi Wine
You cannot talk about Ugandan politics without mentioning Bobi Wine. Not in 2017, no. The masses perceive him as a revolutionary. He speaks and writes like a philosopher. He wields the posture of a man that is going to write history with his life.
He stepped into Parliament with a landslide victory as Kyadondo East MP. And he has made his presence felt. During the infamous ‘Togikwatako’ parliamentary debates, he was at the forefront of the widely sung opposition side.
He made Hollywood spring to life in the Ugandan Parliament during the many ruckus-filled occasions. He was always pictured in the thick of the turmoil. And it worked for his political prospects. He also wrote letters. The viral letters laced with anti-government criticisms on his Facebook page.
And unlike other social media rants, his letters got a nod. Some were replied by the government. It doesn’t matter what he wrote and what they replied, that they replied shows his presence is being felt. And you would expect that amidst all the political ruckus and life threatening bouts with police, that he’d stop writing and producing music. But he hasn’t. He around the same time ousted the ‘Tutambule’ song. He is the undisputed hero portrait that many believe in.
1. Brian Ahumuza
Before Brian Ahumuza, the only Ugandans that knew about Ciroc Vodka were the youths interested in pop music because the vodka brand kept showing up in International music videos. But ever since he was made the Ciroc Ambassador in Uganda, Ciroc has become a social trend. So much so that many socialites deem drinking Ciroc a lifestyle.
The hashtags #cirocboys and #ciroclife are used by many for a posture of a luxurious lifestyle on social media. Which says a lot about Brian Ahumuza’s work as an Ambassador. But that is not why he is the number one personality of 2017.
Brian Ahumuza also won the Creative Arts in Fashion at the Young Achiever’s Awards. He launched a campaign called ‘Fashion Takeover’ where he was teaching youths and various fashion contributors how to earn through fashion.
The campaign was concluded by the Fashion Take Over seminar, where he taught a number of budding designers the business essentials of fashion (branding, marketing, et al.) He was also a judge at the Seed Fashion show organizer by renowned Ugandan designer, Ras Kasozi. But the real tremor was his show, the Abryanz Style and Fashion Awards that were held at the Kampala Serena Hotel.
The fashion Awards up to now, are the biggest Red Carpet Event in Africa. Yet even more amusing, is how they grow bigger and better every other year. This year had celebrated international fashion designers like David Tlale (South Africa,) Mai Ataffo (Nigeria,) Sheria Ngowi (Tanzania), Alecool Landan (UK.) The show also had the best production Uganda has ever seen. An elaborate and pure display of craftsmanship.
The stage was away from the usual T-shaped runway. And instead, it was an X-shaped runway, that had ascending levels of walk and showcase space at the beginning. There was also, the mindblowing Mafikizolo performance. But that wasn’t even the icing on the cake.
It was how the show attracted the Nabagereka of Buganda, Sylvia Nagginda and how KCCA Executive Director Janipher Musisi had endorsed it. At the start of last year, celebrated designer Santa Anzo referred to Brian as one who can set the bar so high that only him can reach it. And maybe she was right.