Uganda's International Stars - Part 1
UGPulse's list of the most notable Ugandans in Diaspora.
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First published: November 14, 2007
There is a general misconception in Uganda that Ugandans living in the Diaspora are involved in kyeyo jobs like cleaning toilets, sweeping the streets, washing pots, etc. While some are, (and given the high rate of unemployment worldwide, there is nothing wrong with any of the jobs mentioned above) there are even more who are successful in other fields like banking, drama, music, education, sports, television, visual arts, politics, media, literature, medical, legal, aeronautics/space and business management. There are endless examples, but I limited it to only thirty Ugandans. In this first part, we shall profile some Ugandans who are moving the entertainment and media industries in various parts of the world.
Africa Calling by Geoffrey Oryema
Namugenyi "Nam" Kiwanuka (Canada)
Namugenyi Kiwanuka in Northern Uganda.
Enter the Babylon System
In Canadian media circles, she is affectionately referred to as "Nam." She is best known for her beautiful, attention-grabbing hairdo (a huge flaming afro). In the past, she worked as a MuchMusic VJ, where she interviewed many celebrities. Namugenyi "Nam" Kiwanuka, who was born in 1975 in Uganda, is now a famous Canadian television personality, who earned her journalism degree at Toronto's Ryerson University. Kiwanuka, started at MuchMusic as an intern on Master T's RapCity/DaMix, and later became the host of 'The DownLo' and 'Vibe'. She has received various accolades, including being named Best Media Personality at the 2003 Urban X-Posure Awards. She is currently the hostess of NBA XL and CFL Crunch on Rogers Sportsnet. Kiwanuka arrived in Canada with her parents in 1983 as a refugee, following the civil war in Uganda. She is based in Toronto, Canada.
"She still has a strong passion for Africa and is involved in numerous charities, including War Child Canada, in an effort to better the lives of those who are less-fortunate than herself. She is also in the process of starting her own charity to benefit orphans who've lost their parents to HIV/AIDS in Uganda." - Read more
Sami Sabiti (South Africa)
Sami Sabiti interviewing American Idol's Simon Cowell.
Watch this and other videos
Sami Sabiti, who has been referred to as the fantasy of many girls, was born in Uganda. He resided in Egypt, Kenya and the United Kingdom before settling in South Africa. He studied economics and management and spent two years working at IBM's head office in Johannesburg before making the transition into the world of media. Sabiti's exciting career in radio and television began as a host on South Africa's first 24-hour music channel, Music Television. In the past, Sabiti also presented a show titled "African Adventures" as well as "Idols" in South Africa. 'Idols" was a talent search show which mesmerized the world. Sabiti was the host of the Nokia Face of Africa 2005 final, and is also an M-Net presenter and 5fm DJ.
Mirembe Campbell (UK/Australia)
The UK-based, Ugandan-Australian actress and model Mirembe Campbell is making quite a name for herself in the theatre and film industry in the UK. The actress, whose mother is Ugandan, has the potential to become the Genevieve Nnaji of Uganda. Last year she was profiled in the UK-based Street Cred Magazine, Pride Magazine, as well as Kenya's Nation Media group/Sunday Nation's BUZZ Magazine.
This year, she has also been profiled in the UK Cosmo, the Australian edition of Vogue - Australian Cosmo, the April 2007 edition of US-based MIMI Magazine, the UK Black Beauty and Hair Magazine, Pride Magazine UK as well as Uganda's New Vision and Monitor newspapers. She has also received an offer from the cosmetic company Yana, as a model for their make-up products and is currently attending one of London's greatest schools for actors. She is the face of UGPulse and Gisella. She is also a newscaster for Jump Off TV, and was recently cast in a Hollywood film called How to Lose Friends and Alienate People with George Clooney, Thandie Newton and Kirsten Dunst.
Ntare Mwine (USA)
Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine.
Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine is a handsome Los Angeles-based Ugandan actor, filmmaker, playwright, writer, actor, documentary maker and photographer. He has received an NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Image Award nomination for Best Actor. His TV credits include ER, CSI and Law & Order, as well as leading roles at The Steppenwolf Theatre, The Kennedy Center, The Lincoln Center, ACT, The Long Wharf Theatre and the national tour of Six Degrees of Separation.
His photography has been featured on HBO's television series Six Feet Under and also exhibited at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, The Latino Art Museum, The United Nations and Rush Arts Gallery to name but a few. He has recently been to Ethiopia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Canada to perform his play, Biro. Biro was performed before the former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and African heads of state at the 2004 African Union Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He is the director of the documentary film Beware of Time, which won Best Film, BIC Awards, Berlin. He also appeared alongside Leonardo Di Caprio in the film The Blood Diamond directed by Ed Zwick in 2006.
Karinda Mutabazi (Australia)
Born in Melbourne, Australia, this singer and actress completed her Bachelor of Performing Arts at Monash University. Mutabazi has acted in Hair, Hello Dolly (The Production Company), A New Brain (Blackbird Productions), Sunday in the Park with George (Graduate Players, Monash University), Bring Down Da House and most recently the Australian Lion King, where she was selected to play Sarabi. Her father, Steve Mutabazi, originally comes from Uganda.
Arthur Simeon Omaset (Canada)
Arthur Simeon is a Toronto-based Ugandan stand-up comedian and a regular at Yuk Yuks Comedy clubs. Born in Kampala, Uganda on November 14, 1983, Arthur Simeon moved to Canada, where he first tried his hand at stand-up comedy, as a teenager. In June 2007, he headlined the Nubian Disciples Of Pryor Comedy showcase at Yuk Yuks Comedy Club in Toronto. He has showcased his talent in Just for Laughs at The All Black Comedy Show in Toronto and was a finalist in the Ed Pollack talent search during the Hogtown Comedy Festival.
Robert Walakira (UK)
Born in Kampala, Uganda, Robert Walakira is the publisher of the Kabaka Mutebi-endorsed, UK-based Eyecon Magazine, the voice of, as well as the leading magazine for Ugandans in the UK. The dreadlocked publisher is also the founder of ECO Media, Inc., which is a management, public relations, and marketing consultancy that is mostly inclined towards the entertainment industry. ECO Media manage entertainers and help them undertake public and media relations campaigns, as well as marketing their material to the public.
Lee Kasumba (South Africa)
Leslie "Lee" Nabunya Kasumba.
South Africa-based, Uganda-born Leslie Nabunya Theresa Kasumba, popularly known as Lee, is known by most of her fans as a sassy sister who loves music, especially hip-hop. Leslie Kasumba is the editor of South Africa's hip-hop magazine, Y-Magazine. She is the DJ, producer and co-host of Harambe on YFM Radio, and a contributor to MTV Africa and Channel O. She got a BA in Dramatic Arts from Wits University. Kasumba has interviewed Tony Blair besides hosting and facilitating a Quincy Jones panel. She has also presented programmes with a team at U.N. Habitat in Vancouver about making inner city environments safer through art, been on a magazine cover alongside South African President Thabo Mbeki, hosted the African version of Live 8, performed at the South African Alicia Keys banquet and emceed a Beyonc� Knowles concert in South Africa. Referred to by her fans as the anointed mother of South African Hip-Hop, Kasumba was recently featured in XXL Magazine as the Queen of Jo'burg.
In her own words: "I think it is positive when young people on this continent realize that they are the future and do their bit to build the continent. Everywhere I go, I see myself as African first. It is a beautiful continent and I feel that I am doing what I can to serve the continent. So it is positive to both. The youth are often said not to care about politics and it is positive to use music a common language too."
Essence Kasozi (UK)
Essence Kasozi used to be part of Kayaayu, one of the leading theatre groups in Uganda. She appeared in various plays by the group in the 1980's, before moving to England. There, she read acting and theatre production. As an actress, Kasozi appeared in five successful plays in London, which she co-wrote and co-produced with her sister Milly Namukasa and her brother the late Frank Mubiru. Kasozi has also acted in Ugandan television soaps produced by the Ebonies group, including Uganda's leading soap That's Life Mwattu as Anita. She ventured into music in 1998 with her first release, Obukoddo (selfishness), a self-penned debut album. In 2001, she released Ekiseera mu biseera (time within time). Her latest album Ansudde eddalu (He has made me go crazy) is currently in production stages.
Geoffrey Oryema (France)
Emmylou Harris & Geoffrey Oryema: Let It Be
Geoffrey Oryema, who was born on April 16, 1953, is an internationally known Ugandan musician who resides in France. He escaped Uganda at the age of 24, following the death of his father, a prominent government minister. His international reputation soared after he released his second album, Beat the Border. He has collaborated with, amongst others, Peter Gabriel, a famous English musician who started out with the progressive rock group Genesis and then went on to have a successful solo career. In July 2005, Oryema performed at the LIVE 8 concert in Cornwall, UK and at the Live 8 concert in Edinburgh. Oryema sings in French, English, Swahili and Acholi.
Lou Bega (Germany)
Lou Bega - Interview coming soon.
Singer David Lubega a.k.a. Lou Bega was born on April 13, 1975 in Munich, Germany and is a Latin-pop musician. He is famous for his song "Mambo No. 5", a remix of his idol Perez Prado, the Cuban Mambo King's original song. Lou Bega, who spent many years in Miami, USA, is the son of a Ugandan father and a Sicilian mother. Mambo No. 5 was a runaway hit worldwide, making it into the top five across Europe and in the USA. Lou Bega is remembered for his acute fashion sense (white pin-stripe suit, little polka dot handkerchief, elegant spats and Borsalino hat) in perfect homage to the '30s and '40s, and is a rising star. His latest CD album Lounatic was released in the summer of 2006.
Lou Bega - Mambo No.5
The original Mambo No.5 recorded and composed by P�rez Prado in 1952
Samite is the stage name for Ugandan musician Samite Mulondo, who resides in New York. He plays the flute, marimba (wooden xylophone), litungu (seven-stringed Kenyan instrument), and kalimba, a type of thumb piano. He was born and raised in Uganda, where his grandfather taught him to play the traditional African flute. In 1982, he was forced to flee to Kenya as a political refugee and in 1987 immigrated to the United States. He has several CD's to his credit, including Tunula Eno, Kambu Angels, Pearl of Africa Reborn, Dance My Children, Dance, Silina Musango and Embalasasa. Samite is also a co-founder of Musicians for World Harmony, a nonprofit organization that introduces music to African orphans.
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First published: November 14, 2007
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 and is becoming a household name in Toronto circles. Please visit her website at www.nteyafas.com.