The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Teacher's Snub Inspired Kuddzu to Fame

Isaac Kuddzu's spirits were shattered in Primary five, when his class teacher unceremoniously kicked him out of the class choir, hours to the interclass drama competition. The teacher, whom he declines to name because they have since made up, was apparently unhappy because Kuddzu was giving more time to choir than classwork.

"It killed my self-esteem and made me bitter," he says, "But thank God that punishment made me who I am today."

At first, the punishment's effects were disastrous. Kuddzu turned into an angry insecure youth who was always out to challenge authority, subsequently earning himself countless suspensions and expulsions from nearly every school he attended. His antics, however, later paid off in Senior five, when he wrote, directed and starred in a class drama that turned out to be a hit at school.

"I won every single award at the interclass drama competition. I even won the award for best actress," he boasts, revealing he so badly wanted to dominate the production he even played the lead female character. "I knew I had disproved my primary teacher and that made me feel good about myself."

After his acting success, Kuddzu was ready to settle on academics, but the entertainment bug could not let himself be. He continued escaping from school to go out partying, earning him suspensions.

At Light College Katikamu, where he partly had his A-level, Kuddzu quickly became a celebrity student courtesy of his prowess in drama and spicing up the church service.

"I added swagg to [the] Sabbath," he says, recalling he created renditions of praise hymns with his concocted lyrics and a twist of rap. He also acted out Bible readings and introduced a modelling session as a breather to the day-long worshipping.

Kuddzu also took solace in fine art, a field he still excels in today. As a student, he won a continental logo designing campaign for a Madhvani initiative. Despite a naughty streak, Kuddzu scored 24 points in his A-level exams.

While at Kyambogo University, where he graduated with a degree in Education, Kuddzu became famous for cheerleading the soccer team.

Take off

Kuddzu's career as an elite entertainer, however, took off in 2006 after university. He got a small comedy gig with Sanyu FM but shortly left to pursue a career in teaching.

"I got bored with teaching because I hate routine. I also felt I needed a bigger audience, not just a class."

His decision paid off. He auditioned and got a job with Spirit FM, where he swiftly rose from a small-time presenter to host the station's flagship show, Wake-up Call.

Elite entertainer

Today, Kuddzu, who describes himself as 'a chain' because of the several jobs he does, is a top entertainer. He is an accomplished actor, emcee, comedian, all-round artist and radio/TV personality.

He currently hosts XFM's weekend shows, X-Ignition and X-Mix. He is also one of the founder members of comedy outfits Fun Factory. Perhaps he is best known for his stint as Sober, the cantankerous hostel caretaker in NTV's The Hostel, an act that made him a household name.

"I quit because my schedules become tight," he says of his absence in The Hostel III, denying the rumour that he was fired. Sources, however, say the stocky actor threw in the towel due to poor pay.

Challenges

He acknowledges Ugandan sets pay very poorly and vows to start a campaign against it. Kuddzu also says it is hard balancing over five jobs but adds that timetabling, a virtue he attributes to his teaching profession, has helped him handle it.

Politician

Though Kuddzu is not sure about joining politics, he is very critical of the status quo. Asked what his plans are, he answers: "I am going to try and restore sanity in our society. People are living like animals--selfish, heartless and very corrupt," while he puffs away on his fifth Dunhill cigarette during our hour-long interview.

Kuddzu is angry with politicians for swindling public funds, leaving city roads and hospitals in despair.

The funny man is also not amused with celebrities who walk with an army of bouncers. "How can you swell on [the] public yet it's the same people who made you?" wonders Kuddzu, who a popular tabloid recently named 'Tororo's best export to Kampala'.

Hobbies

During free time, which he seldom has, Kuddzu likes to play fly-on-the-wall--just sitting back observing the world as he smokes and drinks a beer. He says it helps him enhance his acting skills. He also takes time off to be with his girlfriend.

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