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​Henry Ssali’s Kiwani is a missed opportunity

By the time scribe Henry Ssali ventured into movie production back in 2007, a very big number of the current crop of film makers must have been dreaming about becoming camera owners.

With his muscle in the newsroom, he announced an audition in form of a story in one of the Daily Monitor Friday editions, and in a snap, all people that secretly fancied acting were excited.

The audition held at a club in Ntinda attracted students that just gave school a break to chase a bigger break into an industry and of course, socialites, dancers, up coming artistes, media personalities….. It was a full house.

The film was eventually released, still with a romp that followed the producer’s muscle in the newsroom as well as the star dust of his cast.

He had successfully cast Juliana Kanyomozi at the peak of her career, Flavia Tumusiime while she was making a bigger break and of course Hannington Bugingo and more newer faces.

A brilliant story that played into the city lingual, Kiwani, The Movie had many things ready to happen in it’s favour.

Ugandans were learning to appreciate local talent and musicians were positioning themselves to benefit, for instance, they had started organising shows in twos, an ordinary show started on Friday and ended with a family edition usually at Ggaba.

Luckily, Kanyomozi was one of the much loved lot, at the release of Kiwani, she enjoyed top spots on urban radio stations with songs like Kibaluma, Kanyimbe and Diana, a rendition of Philly Lutaaya’s song.

For the time Ugandans have made films, only Matt Bish’s Battle of Souls may have enjoyed the press Kiwani enjoyed – and you could understand why we were excited about Bish’s film, he had promised to deliver Hollywood to us, the whole thing was new that we ran nuts.

Enter, Ssali’s Kiwani, the audition got a full page coverage with a daily and more publications would follow as the cast was revealed, commencement of production.

A descent story of a university girl (Tumusiime) that falls for a con man that unknowingly doubles her up with her aunt (Kanyomozi) what follows is drama when eventually everything comes to light.

It was a story that was easily appreciable and thanks to Ssali’s ambition, the cinematography and sound were more than what 2007 could give you.

But why is the film a missed opportunity – it was highly watched by a select number of people but not the majority it needed – this would have been a better chance to launch the industry to a cropping comedy audience at the time.

Today, Kiwani: The Movie is not that common on the shelf, in fact the few available are interpreted with pirated art work.

Of course many people keep learning about it and can’t imagine they had no idea Juliana can act…. Now we are not asking Ssali to re-release Kiwani, we are simply saying he ignored the market that consumed much of Juliana’s music when Kiwani was fresh almost ten years back……. That’s wasting a good cast! Matt Bish is good at that! 

Who knows, that commercial success would have changed the way people were going to embrace film from 2008 onwards…. But we can only imagine. 

In a facebook post earlier in March though, Ssali noted that he will be getting the original copies back in circulation.

Will Juliana Kanyomozi and Flavia Tumusiime’s current magic help sway some people the industry’s way? 

Only time can tell.

About Kaggwa Andrew

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