Saturday, July 7, 2018

Tales From The Late WBS Television

The Logo That Was Once A Household Name

I’d would have never gone into television had I not interviewed Elvis Sekyanzi, who then, was Executive Director at WBS Television. He roped me in when all I knew about television was to err, pick up the remote and flick through the channels. I found television fascinating – especially when we went live because often, circumstances occurred that were beyond our realm.

Elvis Sekyanzi - Former Executive Director at WBS

Gabriel, started his career at WBS as a presenter on Showtime Magazine before going into production. While in production, he harboured ambitions of being a sports caster, something that was embraced by Elvis. So, for the next three months or so, Gabriel dedicated himself to sitting in the studio when we were off air and practised for hours on end. Now and again, we would sit in with him, advise and steer him to becoming almost as prolific as Rmathan, who was the stations top sports caster and who had nailed the art of sports casting down to a tee.

When D-Day broke and in the final minutes before he went on air, there was nothing to suggest that events would go ‘south’. Gabriel was in an upbeat mode. He had sprung a ‘back-to-school’ haircut and he looked razor sharp in a tweed blazer.

When the signature tune started to roll, a blob of sweat almost as big as Lake Victoria slithered down his forehead - closely followed by another blob of sweat that was almost as big as Lake Victoria’s twin sister.

By the time the signature tune was done and he was live on air, Gabriel was no longer the Gabriel in the razor-sharp tweed jacket. Rather, he was a scattered wreck who looked like he’d lost the fight against the hoodlums in downtown Kisekka Market for the kaveera of nsenene.

Not only could Gabriel not remember his name, he also got his script in a jumble that whatever he said, it just didn’t make sense. Two minutes into the cast, we switched to adverts and dragged the gasping-for-air hapless lad out. He quit television shortly afterwards.

One Christmas day, we did a live broadcast from All Saints Church that was led over by the late Archbishop Mpalanyi Nkoyooyo at which, off camera commentary was required. Foolishly, Chief Technician Daniel, thought I was the best person to do the commentary.

Late Archbishop, Mpalanyi Nkoyooyoo

An hour into the commentary, I spy a frantic Production Assistant Francis waving his hands at me. When he eventually got through the congregation to the commentary box he had this to say: “TB, you fool, you’re pronouncing his name wrong. It’s not nkoko yo but Nkoyooyo!” I quit television commentary shortly afterwards.

Back in 1999 I think it was, Sudhir Ruparelia threw the mother of all parties to open up his Rock Bar at Speke Hotel that cars were lined either side of Nile Avenue right from Rwenzori Courts down to Garden City roundabout.

In those days, Sudhir, rarely gave interviews so it was a real coup for us – Tilly, Chris and myself (Showtime Magazine) to corner him for a one-on-one. I’d never quite seem him (Sudhir) like that – all jovial, upbeat and willing to open up. For almost 30minutes, he gave us the most amazing and eye-opening interview about himself and how he intends to revolutionise the entertainment industry in Uganda and how he’s building a resort called Speke Resort in some very far flung place called Munyonyo that nobody had really heard of.

Sudhir Ruparelia

After the scoop of an interview, I reclined back in the bar knocking back free cocktails when an almost terrified and nervous Chris comes up and whispers: “Please don’t shout at me, but during the Sudhir interview, I forgot to press the record button!” He vanished from work for two weeks.     

Pictures: Howwie.Biz,,      

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