Hand in Hand
Jacqueline Kizza "Natalia", Veronica Namanda "Birungi" and Richard Tuwanye "Daudi".

Hand in Hand


Ugandans, and many Africans, need to pack up their shame and get more practical. There is no shame in craftmanship and that is the lesson from Hand in Hand.

By Aretha Frison
more from author >>
First published: November 10, 2005


Click **here** to hear the Hand in Hand theme song.


The producers for Hand in Hand, the new Ugandan soap opera focusing on promoting the field of craftsmanship in the country, recently announced that they are hopeful that the modern-day soap will receive excellent reviews from the public to prepare for its next season sometime in 2006.

Right now, we are preparing to conduct a survey. We believe are survey results will be positive. And, we are sure that they (Ugandans) are watching, but we are not sure if they are getting the message (about craftsmanship,) said Denis Jjuuko, the public relations consultant for the soap, working for one of the soaps main sponsors, GTZ, the German Technical Cooperation.

Launched in October, the show is co-sponsored by many organizations in Uganda including the Ministry of Education and Sports. Jjuuko said the sponsors came together to create a soap to show that handy jobs are not dirty and menial, which is perceived by many people. Hand wants to create role models the average Ugandan can admire, and see that a person can actually make a good life in this line of business working in the beauty industry, butchery, nursing, tailoring, fashion, carpentry, industrial, culinary arts, hotel and hospitality, and catering.

This way, we will send the message that craftsmanship does not have to be an alternative career as many people take it to be. It is a career like any other. If one takes their work seriously they will be very successful in whatever they chose to do, according to a statement on the soaps website.

The soap will be wrapping up its first season in December, Jjuuko said.

While critics from around the country find the soap entertaining and informative, the show also showcases a variety of serious issues in craftsmanship around Uganda like how to market and establish a new business and keep clients, time keeping, precautions when dealing with electrical machinery at the workplace. The show also deals with the use of alternative sources of energy, how to properly dispose of chemicals in a salon, refuse bags or kaveeras, industrial waste, how to make a transition from old to new technology, practicing good hygiene when handling food. It discusses overcoming gender bias like women doing men's jobs such as metalwork, and dealing with terminal illness such as HIV/AIDS at the workplace.

Art Imitating Life


Veronica,Nancy Kalembe, a young attractive metalworker, needs premises to set up a workshop. However, this is not because she is a woman who wants to enter a career that is traditionally reserved for men. It is because she likes it, and shes good at it.

Defying all odds, she succeeds in establishing her trade, but along the way she encounters hurdles that threaten her progress. Although it sounds like a typical story line in a popular drama series or soap opera plot, these are the problems that are encountered daily in Uganda and in East Africa.


Richard Tuwangye, 25, who is currently living in Kampala, but from Mbarrara, plays Daudi (or David) on the show. David, 19, is an unemployed, mischievous local hustler who is always causing trouble. Tuwangye has ambitions to become a successful and influential actor in Uganda. He hopes to participate on the show if there is another season next year.

I want to see more conflict on Hand, he said. Like more troublesome relationships.

The craftsmanship field is poorly lacking in government support and is a negative alternative to university education in the eyes of most Ugandan parents. This stigma in East Africa persuades many East African youth to only enroll for these vocational courses as a last resort. But recently, many politicians, investors and educators in Uganda have witnessed that not only are graduates from these institutions able to co-exist with those from the formal sector(going to college and entering a career based on a degree), but they can also make a very good living.


Jacquelyne Kizze, 20, who is currently living in Kampala, but is originally from Mpererwe, said her character, Natalia, is facing these challenges on the show with her mother opposing Natalia from attending beauty school to become a beautician, even though Natalia is very talented.

I like the message Hand portrays: blue collar workers and for women to do the craftsmanship jobs, Kizze said. Kenyan women do it, and so can Ugandan women.

So, this is the reason why the main sponsors, the German Development Bank, KfW/lcon Institute, GTZ, and the Ministry of Education and Sports, partnered with Great Lakes Film Productions to produce Hand in Hand. The aim is to dispel these exaggerated stereotypes that are associated with vocational education and training associated with craftsmanship.

The soap 13-member cast play characters that are working in craftsmanship. The twelve-episode soap opera was shot in a commercial arcade setting in Industrial Area, Kampala. The soap went into production in July til the end of September this year. Then, Hand was ready for television audiences in Uganda in October. Officials say the soap appeals to all age groups and educational background, even though it mainly targets youth, parents, guardians, teachers and career counsellors.

All Images taken from www.handinhand.or.ug.

Click **here** to hear the Hand in Hand theme song.

By Aretha Frison
more from author >>
First published: November 10, 2005
Aretha Frison, a native of Detroit, Michigan, and a graduate of Florida A&M University, is currently living in Kampala, Uganda as an independant media consultant for media houses and publishing companies.

She has written, edited and been featured in the Detroit Free Press, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, the East African, New Vision, The Daily Monitor, Vibe, and other trade magazines and newspapers.

Living in Uganda as a resident, she is actively involved in the Uganda writing arena, local church activities, and volunteer organizations. She can be reached at rereb@hotmail.com.