6 November 2012

Uganda: Douglas Lwanga - the Katogo Chef

When you first meet Douglas Lwanga, he is just another young adult doing a TV job.

He describes himself as, "A TV personality, family man who is business-minded." As I settle into the interview, he apologizes for not being able to make me tea. He has one of the most famous music shows on TV at the moment. The Katogo show on Record TV boasts of more than 16,700 Facebook likes (the most liked Ugandan TV show), yet that success has not gone to his head.

"You can never assume you are the best, you always need to look and learn from those you think are better," he says. It is this attitude that pushed him to do better.

"I am afraid of being too comfortable. I prefer looking at what my show is lacking to develop it," he adds.

This year, Katogo was nominated for the yet-to-be-held Radio and TV awards and it will most likely win. "God willing," as Douglas quickly asserts. Katogo debuted on Record TV in 2009; it was a result of a major shake-up at the station and in a production meeting with the new management, one young producer, Douglas Lwanga, was spotted.

"The name Katogo is a loose translation for a mixture of foods. The show was meant to complement another show on the station which specifically played foreign music," he says.

Douglas exhibits the perfect working culture you rarely find in a Ugandan TV presenter. He makes a log for all the artistes he wants to appear on his show in a specific month.

A former student of St Lawrence schools, Douglas is not in the entertainment industry by mistake. In his days at Creamland, he formed a dance group with his friends, performing at different St Lawrence campuses.

"My background as a stage performer helped me adapt to TV easily. I actually think the ministry of education should find a way of including performing arts in mass communication," he suggests.

Besides his presenting job, he does graphics for corporations and musicians. He has done concert adverts for Bebe Cool, OS, Bobi Wine and Konshens' concert in Kampala. Because of this background, many artistes know him as a colleague and appear on his show whenever he calls.

"In an industry with names like Straka, MC Kats, Tuff B and Miles Rwamiti, you can't compete. These people have built reputations for years," he says.

Lucky for him, he didn't have to compete, thanks to the different segments featured on his show.

"My show comes five times a week which gives me an advantage; I can premiere a new song every day and I can report a breaking story when it happens," he says.

He adds: "I premiere a new song daily and whenever an artist brings his video, they can expect it to be playing in at least three days."

Though, even with a great work ethic, Douglas has not been saved from artistes and their drama.

"Someone will bad-mouth your show because you are not playing their songs 'enough' times," he says.

"Some have refused to appear on my show because they feel like they are bigger than the Ugandan TV industry. One said if he was to give me an interview, it had to be in the comfort of his home," he says.

His dream is to see the show become international. "I want to be able to stream the show online in a few years' time," he says.

And, like many music pundits, he too thinks Ugandan music is on a crash course due to the lack of creativity, and it is world musicians that could save the future.

"Many people think we hate world music artistes like Qwela band, Maurice Kirya or Richard Kaweesa, but no; we simply don't get their videos yet we truly believe in them," he says.

"I try to be as original as possible, I don't know if it is me or the music that people love. But so far, we are happy with the love the public is giving the show," he says.

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