Angela Crystal Newman-Kavulu: Uganda's Hottest Radio Personality
Angela Crystal Newman-Kavulu.

Angela Crystal Newman-Kavulu: Uganda's Hottest Radio Personality

I know I've said this often, but radio is my passion. Seriously... I get to chat, laugh, share bits of my life with listeners and enjoy being part of a family.

By Jane Musoke-Nteyafas
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First published: July 31, 2008

She is one of the most popular voices on Ugandan radio as well as one of the most beautiful. Her fans know her as simply Crystal Newman. She is one of the most recognizable and pleasant celebrities on the Ugandan scene today. Her wardrobe has been featured in African Woman Magazine and it's no surprise because on top of being a respected radio personality Angela Crystal Newman-Kavulu is also a Kampala fashion icon.

Crystal, which is how she prefers to be addressed, graduated from Makerere University in Uganda where she did Mass Communication. By the tender age of 26 she was already the Public Relations Officer (P.R.O) for Kampala Casino and she was greatly sought out to host events in Kampala. She is a renowned radio presenter at Radio Sanyu FM, one of Uganda's top radio stations. It was while presenting on the evening drive show from 5-8pm on week days that Crystal was catapulted into stardom. The hardworking celeb is also a new wife and mother. I managed to get her in between her gigs as the mistress of ceremonies that included a function, a fundraiser and a cocktail. While life is busy, she manages to somehow balance motherhood, marriage and her work, showing that it is indeed possible. The down to earth radio presenter shared some of her life with me.

Angela Crystal Newman-Kavulu
Angela Crystal Newman-Kavulu.

Jane: Who is Crystal Newman in your own words?
Woah.. Let's see. I like to think of myself as a fun-loving, generous person who is still crazy about her job. I am hardworking, reliable, opinionated, sometimes short-tempered and open-minded. I love to dance, try hard not to let anything get me down and look for the best in people. I'm married to Fred Kavulu with a 3yr old daughter called Karla.

I went to Makerere College throughout my O and A Levels and got a Bachelor degree in Mass Communication from Makerere University. I'm constantly reading. I love to swim, watch movies, travel and dance!

Although you are Ugandan, the name Newman is not a typically a Ugandan name. Plus you look mixed. What is your non-Ugandan ancestry?
Actually, Newman is my father's real name. He is completely Ugandan.. a Munyankole. My mum is the one with mixed blood. Dad was named Newman by my late grandfather and it's a long story...

Pray tell us the story...
I have to get his permission!

Alright I'll let that go for now. I found out that you are related to Namugenyi Kiwanuka. What is the exact relation?
She's my first cousin through my mum and her dad. My mum's dad was English and mum Ugandan.

I guess there are no coincidences. So let's go to your work. You are presenter at Sanyu FM. How did you get the gig as a radio presenter?
I kind of fell into radio. That was a long time ago though. I was friends with some of the presenters on Sanyu FM when I was at university, and my roommates and I were dared to go on air and pretend to be a girl group as a prank. We did, had a laugh and I was called back later for a voice test when a presenter left. I started training after a second voice test and I'm still here!

Angela Crystal Newman-Kavulu
Angela Crystal Newman-Kavulu.

Again that goes to my comment about there being no coincidences.
I know!

What do you like best about that gig?
I know I've said this often, but radio is my passion. Seriously... I get to chat, laugh, share bits of my life with listeners and enjoy being part of a family. Because of the research we do I'm constantly expanding my knowledge. Plus, I get to listen to lots of music and dance in the studio. The hours are flexible so I'm not tied to one place all day long. Spending time with my baby girl is a priority. The feedback I get means I'm making a difference in someone's life, somewhere. What more can I say?

There seem to be a large number of female radio presenters and djays, where it was rare in the past. What are the stereotypes that you have to overcome regarding your job?
So many. Lots of people used to think we were airheads, obsessed with fame and promiscuous. The list goes on. But we've stuck it out and so many of us today have raised the standard of professionalism.

Are you still the Public Relations Officer (P.R.O) of Kampala Casino?
No. I left in 2005.

What interested you in that project?
It was fun, exciting and challenging at the time. I wanted to explore public relations being one of the subjects I studied when I was doing my degree in mass communication.

You used to work for what is considered the hotel, entertainment and catering sector of Uganda. How do you think the country can pull in more tourists, to say the level of our neighbours in Kenya?
We need to advertise Uganda more as a tourist destination, customer service still needs improvement although the recently held CHOGM was a big boost in that department. Also, we need specialized rates to target tourists from other African countries.

I hope the powers that be are reading this. What are the things you like best about being Ugandan?
Ugandans are polite, friendly and accommodating. The beautiful countryside, great climate and relative peace. And of course, I love our food!!

Angela Crystal Newman-Kavulu
Angela Crystal Newman-Kavulu.

How is marriage and motherhood treating you?
Wonderful. Marriage has its ups and downs as expected but I have a very supportive, understanding husband. We were together years before we got married so we have a lot of history. My daughter is my angel. She makes everything in this life worth it.

How do you balance it with your busy schedule?
Planning and prioritizing. Sometimes, I'm very busy and when I am, I thoroughly enjoy it. I hate being idle. When I'm not busy, I spend lots of time with the family and get chores done at home.

Of course, as a radio presenter, you are long-standing supporter of Ugandan musicians. Who are your favourite five?
Favorite five? They are so many... Juliana, Qute Kaye, Maurice Kirya, Blu 3, Klear Kut, Mose Radio and Weasel, Irene Namubiru, Bebe Cool... The list goes on!

Are there any new musicians we should know about?
Rachel Kiwanuka, Henry Tigan and Kid Fox have lots of potential.

What other areas are you interested in other than radio work and casino work? Are you interested in acting for example or writing?
I tried acting in high school, and personally I thought I was terrible at it. But I've started presenting on TV now and plan do a lot more. I'm also a professional MC for corporate functions and the last big one I did had a thousand guests including our President Museveni and Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak al Nahayan.

Did you ever imagine that you'd one day become a recognizable figure on peoples radios?
Not really. I always knew I'd work in the media which is why I majored in broadcasting. But I thought I'd be in front of the camera rather than behind the microphone. Trying to do that now though...

What are the things you like about being a Ugandan celeb?
(Laughs) I still find it funny being called a celeb... Well, it's fun to be invited to so many social events. As I mentioned earlier I do like to party and enter clubs and other facilities with no hassles.

I think the liking to party is a UG thing... we are just like that. I like partying too. Especially in Uganda. I've lived in many countries and I still think Uganda is the best place I have ever partied in.
Yes it is. It's fun!

And the things you dislike about being a celeb?
Well, you have to let go of your privacy sometimes and even watch what you say or do. It could end up being twisted or misunderstood and used in the tabloids against you.

How has success changed the way you live?
It's a small measure of success, there is still so much more I want to achieve. However, I am now able to draw the line as to what or what extent I'll be involved in a project.

How do you stay grounded with all the media attention on you?
I've always tried to be myself as much as possible, and remember that what goes up must come down! My job does not define who I am.

I have noticed that you are always used as an example of a great fashion icon, as well as a Kampala beauty. What is your secret to looking so divine?
(Laughs) Secret? I drink lots and lots of water for my skin and I have one great hairdresser I stick with. I try to watch what I eat and swim to keep the weight down. As for fashion, like most women I love to shop. I'm more into jewelry now but still crazy about bags and shoes. More than anything else, I think it's important to look good to feel good...

One of the biggest issues in contemporary art/music/fashion is the way black people, especially women are represented in contemporary culture. Body image is an issue. Different sizes and shapes are not quite celebrated. What are your two cents on that?
I think the typical African woman's body is beautiful. We are full of curves, and that's something to be proud of! Fashion is like going to a restaurant and looking at a menu, you choose what you want or like.. And hopefully what suits you.

Do you find that your good looks sometimes distract from your work?
I certainly hope not! If it happens, I set the record straight.

Angela Crystal Newman-Kavulu
Angela Crystal Newman-Kavulu.

What do you think of our initiative to celebrate African women through the African Women's Week?
Of course I think it's fabulous! We are becoming more and more aware of what's happening on our continent. And this event gives us as women something more to be proud of.

Ok, some trivial questions. What is your favorite television show?
(Thoughtfully) Hmm.. I'm more into movies. But I like Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and House. I love watching series about the paranormal as well.

We share Desperate Wife's and House in common. I love the shows too! House has my kind of sarcasm.
He's so sarcastic that it's funny.

What are your five favorite books?
A hard question because I read so many books every month. I feel "Lords of the Flies" by William Golding speaks volumes about people. I love Wilbur Smith especially his book Warlock. I also love the Taipan, Gai-Jin series. Right now, I'm reading a Reader's Digest select edition with 4 books.

What music are you listening to now?
A bit of everything... I have a soft spot for Norah Jones though.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Let's see... I see myself with a Masters degree, running my own business, doing more work on TV, having another child and enjoying every minute of this life I've got to live!

Thanks Crystal
You are welcome!

Those who want to hear Angela Crystal Newman-Kavulu can tune into Uganda's Sanyu FM. If you are in Kampala you can also look for her at the next party you go to. You never know, she might be the mistress of ceremony.

By Jane Musoke-Nteyafas
more from author >>
First published: July 31, 2008

Jane Musoke-Nteyafas, poet/author/artist and playwright, was born in Moscow, Russia and currently resides in Toronto, Canada. She is the daughter of retired diplomats. By the time she was 19, she spoke French, English, Spanish, Danish, Luganda, some Russian and had lived in Russia, Uganda, France, Denmark, Cuba and Canada.

Jane won the Miss Africanada beauty pageant 2000 in Toronto where she was also named one of the new voices of Africa after reciting one of her poems. In 2004, she was published in T-Dot Griots-An Anthology of Toronto's Black storytellers and in February 2005, her art piece Namyenya was featured as the poster piece for the Human Rights through Art-Black History Month Exhibit.

She is the recipient of numerous awards for her poetry, art and playwriting including the 2007 Planet Africa Rising Star Award and the 2008 African Canadian Women Achievement Award. Her first book Butterflies of the Nile was published in May 2008. Please visit her website at