The trouble with being a celebrity in Uganda is that everybody within a certain commercial class has a portable digital camera. And not only do they have these devices, but they have no problem just walking up to you when you are minding your own business and asking for you to stand still and smile while they take photos in your vicinity. It’s as if you are a landmark. It’s as if you are a hill, or wildlife or the Independence Monument. They don’t respect the fact that you have airtime to buy also, important airtime. You have things to do besides making their facebook albums look sexier.
There you are shopping at Tuskys when up ambles this person you don’t know, waving his or her cybershot, demanding that you display teeth and throw up dooses. And they don’t even pay for it.
So there I was in Tuskys looking for chicken, when I saw Diana Kahunde, the star of The Hostel, at the airtime place.
Because I am fully up-to-speed on the trouble with being a celebrity in Uganda, and I am sure she is, too, I considered it not only natural, but obligatory, that I walk up and get my photo.
The following discussion took place as we negotiated the photograph.
“Diana, what’s up. I see you on TV and that means I must have a photo of you now. Smile. You are much shorter in real life than I expected you would be, which is odd, because when I usually see you, you are only a few inches high. Hah hah. That was a little joke. I want you to laugh so that the photograph captures your dimples. If you don’t find it funny, then act as if you are amused, after all, you are an actor. Now, say cheese.”
The lovely but also very short actress responded, “What?”
Okay. I have a speech impediment that strikes at random moments and, when it does, Diana Kahunde and others may have trouble understanding what I say.
That impediment is called amaalo. When I see a celeb I find myself doing an accent and let’s be honest with each other; my fake accent sucks.
Every word I say ends up sounding like “heylarman”. The only person who knows what this is like is Calvin Da Entertainer. It hits him every time he sees a TV camera.
So I took a deep breath to calm my nerves and began again.
“Hello Annet aka Diana Kahunde of The Hostel. I am sure you know me also. I am Baz of Urban Legend Kampala. Version 2.0 moreover. I am renowned all over the land for my canny and insightful analysis of the Hostel series, and my frequent articles on the topic must have contributed to your success, and hence your paycheck, and hence some of the money you are using right now to buy airtime. Please, pose for a picture with me so I can have a photo of my handiwork.”
“I’m sorry, but what’s a Heylerman?” she said.
Okay. One more try.
“Hi, you celeb. Bring we do photo.”
Whereupon she got the first dimple and put it on her left cheek, then got the second one and put that one on her other cheek and the photo was taken.
And then because I was on a roll, I found the chick who used to be in the Housing Finance commercial that came on every commercial break during season one, and I got a photo of her, too.