The Observer (Kampala)

24 January 2013

Uganda: Bismac, the New Face of the Hostel

After a few minor roles in local movies, Moses Amumpaire, aka Bismac the Versatile, felt he was ready for a bigger challenge.

And popular NTV miniseries The Hostel was the answer. Like many nascent actors, he had keenly followed The Hostel, watching in admiration the talent and proficiency of its cast, many of whom he idolized.

"I would sit at home and imagine myself being part of that cast. I was their number one fan," recalls the hunky actor/singer.

One day, he stormed Fasttrack Productions offices, the series makers, in Mutungo and begged for a shot. Slightly bemused, the company's bosses told him they had not advertised for auditions. After a series of prodding, they gave in.

"They took me through auditions which I easily passed. They then said they would give me a call whenever they needed my services," Bismac says, who waited three months.

Since the call at the beginning of the second season, the rest became history. Today, Bismac plays the hostel savedee, Brother Matthew, a role that has since won him acclaim and a fan base.

"Last week I was in Mbarara and a boda boda guy offered me a lift saying he can't charge his favourite actor."

However, the role has courted controversy. When his co-star, Eleanor Nansibo (Hope) got pregnant and eventually gave birth, fans thought he was responsible. The confusion stemmed from a mix-up of names. Nansibo's man is another co-star, Matthew Nabwiso (Gilo) while Bismac (Brother Matthew) is lover on screen.

"I can't count the number of times I have had to explain to people that I am not Eleanor's husband," says the actor who won't reveal his age.

Celebrity

The Hostel has so far given Bismac the fans and exposure that none of his previous works had ever given him.

"So many companies have offered me endorsement deals. I will also appear in quite a number of movies this year." He recently got appointed as a marketer for Jomayi, a real estate company.

Music

His stint in The Hostel has also given him the confidence and ability to explore singing. Though Bismac says he excelled in music and drama while in school, he lacked the money to hit the studio.

"I used my first earnings from the show to record my first song titled Gomungyeya," he says of the fairytale-inspired Runyankore song that has since its release in 2011 steadily turned into an anthem of sorts in western Uganda.

His other popular songs include, Vibrator, Secretary, Oli Kigalo and fan's favourite, Ningyenda Naiwe. Yet Bismac says audiences and the media are yet to warm up to Runyankore music.

"I went to some TV station in Kampala and was bluntly told to take my music to Mbarara where there are Banyankore," Bismac painfully says. Thankfully, his music is doing well in western Uganda, where he often travels to stage sell-out shows. He says his seven-track debut album is due for release mid this year.

Businessman

Bismac has also used his savings to boost his Celeb Records, a budding music recording studio he previously operated in his room. Now, the studio has modest premises in Nakulabye and a couple of basic equipment.

"I hope to expand it into a fully-fledged production house with photography, movie and music video departments."

Challenges

As a celebrity, Bismac feels he has lost his right to privacy, something that bothers him.

"Anyone can say anything about you. I now have to be cautious of the way I dress and how I behave in public."

Plans

For now, Bismac is praying that The Hostel resumes, following a sudden suspension due to financial woes in the middle of shooting the third season. Besides the series, he prides in his role in a forthcoming movie by Nigerian director Obi Emelonye of The Last Flight to Abuja hit.

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