Thursday, January 2, 2014

NTV Uganda at 7: Belated Felicitation

In December 2013, NTV made 7 seven years since they announced their arrival onto the Ugandan television scene. It’s been 7 years of quality work. 7 years of a revolution that has seen an overall increase in dynamism and creativity in the industry. Rival stations have since had to up their game, as presenter after another abandoned ship for a new suitor.

The Programming:
I loved the new anchoring style. Maurice blended well with Rosemary, as he did with Josephine. There was Farai, too. Another Eloquent anchor. And now Gabriel Epenu (Still hospitalized at the time of writing this. Get well soon, Gabriel). They make you imagine maintaining on-screen chemistry is part of the rehearsals in the run-up to the 9 o’clock bulletin.

I liked Tricksters. The good thing was that it always run on a Sunday. So, I somehow found time for it. It was fun seeing grown-up adults playing dumb and daft in the name of exposing the trickery and society’s ills that some of our brethren once fell to. Kudos to Brian Mulondo (Wherever you are, these days) and Co.

Hot-Steps was another interesting piece of programming. It kept many a viewer on their toes, irrespective of the presenter. Charlie aka “Sunshine” as he called himself then, was really good at whatever he did. He has since changed names.

From Sunshine, through Stifler, Hyena, and Denzel, to whatever he calls himself these days. He's always evolving, Charlie. Like the deadly AIDS virus. He set a nice precedent for Hot-Steps. Until its sudden demise, it was a nice show.

It did not matter whether the contestants knew a word of the queen’s language or not. They were all given a chance. Like that dude who said he wanted to “break his body” when prompted for what he had in store by the day’s judges.

The period: 20:00 – 21:00 Hrs Still remains reserved for Telenovelas for most of the week. The women --and to some extent, some men, have this time kind of reserved for NTV. 

There was this Telenovela that featured William Levy Gutiérrez, a Cuban-American male model that played Juan Migel in Cuidado con el Ange. He was a hit with the ladies. When he made an appearance in Jennifer Lopez’s video: "I am into you", many a woman couldn’t have enough of the video.

My Favorite Show

They brought Mali to our screens. A personal favorite, this. I am a sucker for anything produced by Alison Ngibuini. I had seen her works on the Zain African challenge, and on Shuga, an HIV/Awareness drama series that aired on MTV. I fell in love with her works. Mali was master class, for me. I was sold.

The Presenters
Josephine Karungi should officially accept she’s got an alter ego. Or probably she has mastered the art of owning the screen in such a way we are not supposed to see her in another way. She does things to my Telly, Jose.

I recall the day a technical glitch smuggled a Luganda version of a certain news item in the 9 O’clock bulletin. The Cameras caught her --in flagrante de licto, signaling for "Cut" (I am assuming that’s what they call these things. I am not into broadcasting).

But she only let out a wry smile and calmly composed herself again. She bore the bravado of a smart-alec preteen, fresh from dipping her hands in sugar, and denying the act even when sugar crystals still grace her chin. Like nothing had happened.

Like it was part of intended humor to spice up the day’s bulletin. We somehow forgot that was a gaffe. We love the seriousness, too. That poise you change into when talking about a fire that has gutted a certain market or building. Or the accident that claimed scores of lives the previous day.

I like Sudhir Byaruhanga’s reporting style. If he is talking about students' plight, he will grab himself a morsel of the day’s meal and set his face to the camera. To make you paint a mental picture of the situation. To drive his point home. Please don’t go to those war ravaged areas again, Sudhir.

That date with M23 almost left you looking rather disheveled in just a couple of days. You looked sad. Someone seeing you for the first time would have imagined you got the fashion sense of a home wrestler.

Aaaagnes Nandutu: Like Golola Moses, you just won’t call her Nandutu. I have not yet figured out a way of pronouncing her name without the extra “aaaa”, and not sounding like I am referring to a different person.

She has since made point blank her own. Not many can remember the original brains behind it. Now, that’s I call making your mark. Thank you, Aaagnes Nandutu. We need some more sound-bites from Otafiire in your subsequent “doses of laughter”, as you call them.

Maurice Mugisha is my OB from primary school. I have to like him (Jokes). He is good at what he does. My gut feeling suggests he sounds more refined than he was before he first went to Nairobi. An articulate, eloquent anchor and other things (rumors say he does more than just the anchoring). Kudos OB. Thank you for the good work.

Frank Walusimbi: Another suave soul. Anchor, talk show host and many other things. Always bringing out that rich Luganda vocabulary that sometimes makes me feel insufficient in the language. He makes the news worth watching. Tuwaye is a nice program, too. Keep up the spirit.

I find rave reviews in order for the following nice people: Ingrid Nantege, Gertrude Tumusiime, Solomon Serwanja, Maurice Ochol and Faridah Nakazibwe among others. The list is endless. You are an awesome team.

We Want More
I like the fact that I can stream the news live. But my stream usually stalls after the news bulletin, often rolling back to the Luganda bulletin at 7pm. 

The Oliver Twist in me still wants to watch a few more programs that come after. I have not watched Sports Bar in God knows how many centuries.

I no longer know what Usha Mali is up to these days. And neither do I know if 4Th Estate still airs on Sundays. Tusaba Gavumenti Etuyambe. Otherwise, I got to say Happy belated Anniversary, and Kudos for the great work.

-          Dan B. Atuhaire

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