In what appears as a positive indicator for Ugandan cinema, a new movie featuring some of the finest talents from both Uganda and Nigeria is due for premiere in a few days.
We have been reliably told that the feature film, which has been discreetly shot in just ten days on various locations across Kampala, will premiere at a top-notch city venue before January 10, when its Nigerian cast and crew departs for Lagos. Top on the film's credit list is celebrated Nigerian actor Clem Ohameze, who exclusively spoke to The Observer from his Hotel Africana room, where he has been resident for two weeks.
"All I can say is that it is a great movie about life. I play a newspaper vender trying to survive on Kampala streets," the 43-year-old soft-spoken actor said, careful not to divulge details.
Famous in numerous Nigerian movies, Ohameze is very popular among Ugandan audiences. He has appeared in over 400 movies, including Ije, Billionaires Club and Occultic Kingdom among others, in a career spanning 16 years. He hopes his experience and fame will give the new flick a face.
"I am already famous; so, I am helping young actors in Uganda to rise up," said the wealthy Nigerian.
And it seems Ohameze wants to invest in Uganda; he talked of meeting central and Buganda government officials about film issues. Though the veteran actor has never watched any Ugandan movie, he has heard from his colleagues that there's abundant talent here.
"My experience so far has been great. I have worked with very talented Ugandan actors who have the potential to break into Nollywood," he said. But again, his short stay here has already shown him some dark spots.
"If the film industry were a person, yours is not even a baby; it's an early pregnancy," Ohameze said of Ugawood. "There is lack of unity and there is a lot of mediocrity."
The dark and burly actor, who had never been to Uganda before, was nonetheless optimistic: "It also took us [Nollywood] time to pick up. You can also get there if the stakeholders can get organised and disciplined." He said an A-list Nigerian actor, like himself, earns millions of naira from each set, a far cry from Ugawood's paltry pay.
"We earn loads of money and that's why we can afford all the luxuries life can offer," he bragged, explaining that his charity programmes are inspired by his deprived childhood. "I always look out for needy but talented kids which I might as well [find] in Uganda," Ohameze said.
I was unable to talk to the movie's Nigerian director and producer, Kingsley Paul Ukaegbu, but other members of the cast gave their views.
"I play the bad guy; I am a killer. But I enjoyed working with my opposites. It was a great experience," said Ugandan-based Nigerian comedian, Ifeanyi Micheal Isaac aka Emeka Mog. ?"I am slowly fitting in the Ugandan industry," added the former footballer.
The Ugandan cast is led by novice Carlos George Ombonya of Katemba Mu Kooti fame, who was cast at the last hour to replace busy Abby Mukiibi. Ohameze was all praise for the youngster whom he tipped to become a big star in the near future. Singer Halima Namakula and screen queen Faridah Ndausi also feature in the film, the second Uganda-Nigeria collabo, after the 2006 flop, Roses in the Rain that featured Nollywood's Zack Orji (Submission).