It's official - 100 posts ago, I started The Creative Mixx!
I want to give a big shout out to everyone who's supported me in my journey to showcase all things creative! Thanks for showing me love over the past couple of months - I seriously *heart* y'all....
In celebration of this monumental moment, I have another fan-tas-tic interview to post! This has been in the works for a while now and finally, I am proud to say that the time is here!
Before, I fill you in on who's being featured on The Creative Mixx tonight, I'm gonna you take you from past to present. The female that I'm about to introduce you to, fled Uganda’s civil war and lived in a Kenyan refugee camp before moving to Canada, in the mid-80's. A graduate of Ryerson University, she graced the screen as a well-loved MuchMusic VJ and Host for Sportsnet, interviewing the likes of Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Cameron Diaz, Michael Jordan & Vince Carter. She's worked with BET Television, ET Canada & NBATV, is a columnist for BBC's Focus on Africa Magazine and has published works in Chart magazine, Jane and the Toronto Star. Her coverage of entertainment & sports has most definitely been extensive, however, she has boldly tackled controversial issues by traveling to Mali to tell the stories of FGM survivors and has volunteered in Sierra Leone with Journalists for Human Rights.
My peeps, I am happy to present the lovely Nam Kiwanuka. So sit back, listen to my vibes & enjoy~
Can you tell my readers what you've been up to these days?
Well, currently I’m writing a column for the BBC’s Focus On Africa,which has been so cool! I tried for three years to get published with them and finally I was given an opportunity. I also recently shot a pilot for a show called ‘T.I.A’ or ‘This Is Africa’. It’s a show that celebrates the faces and places of Africa. Over the past few years, I’ve done a lot of traveling around the continent and have come across some incredible stories on people doing inspiring work and usually under stressful circumstances. The only thing is that a lot of news outlets don’t seem to be interested in positive stories about Africa. Too often the continent is portrayed negatively…it’s all doom and gloom…the poverty, the diseases, the wars…but as with anything else,there is another side…the food, cultures, fashion, music and can I say some of the most beautiful hotels in the world! I know I’m biased because I’m African but the people are some of the most generous I’ve met around the world, especially those who are poor. I’ve met families who had one meal a day but would offer it to me. And don’t even think about saying no because that’s considered rude and they won’t even hear of it! Also, there are a lot of young people who are working on the ground to try to confront their communities problems and they usually do it without any government assistance. I did a story with a young guy who sold what little land he had to start an orphanage. Now he takes care of 20 children with only the help of his wife and a lot of the kids are living with HIV/AIDS. These kids were abandoned; some were street kids, others; their parents died…really tragic circumstances that no child should ever have to endure. Can you imagine how scary it must be to be 5 years old and to be on the streets…no one to protect you, no food to eat, and no security…how is this happening to children in the world? Well, this young guy, Julius Lwanga, identified a problem in his community and he’s trying to do his part to change the future of these kids. He’s also demystifying the stereotype that Africans need to be saved by others by claiming responsibility and that’s happening across the continent tenfold. We’re not ignoring the problems of the continent because it’s imperative to address the issues in order to create some solutions. I’ve been asked why I called the show ‘T.I.A’ and for anyone who’s traveled to or lived in Africa, it’s a saying that’s used to describe anything that only makes sense in Africa…for example if your internet connection takes forever, you say ‘t.i.a’ or if your electricity is cut while you’re out at a club, ‘t.i.a’ or if you see a family of four sharing ONE bicycle with a goat tied onto the back, ‘t.i.a’!
What is your role with this project and are you involved on a full-time basis?
I’ve been working on the idea for a few years now and I’ve been trying to raise money to shoot the pilot. And I’m really lucky to have family and friends that believe in the idea and who also want the image of Africa to be changed. So we raised some money for the pilot and shot it in Uganda a couple of months ago. Now I’m in the process of raising some more funds and applying for grants to hire an editor for the pilot, but in the meantime I’m working on the stories we shot. My editing skills are kind of weak but I’m trying really hard to step them up. And I’m hitting up any of my editor friends for advice and time.
What city does this project originate from and will it take place in other cities?
We shot the pilot in Uganda because that’s where I’m from and it’s the country where I have the most contacts. I’m hoping to shoot the next show in Rwanda or somewhere in the West. The idea is to travel around each country and to explore each nation’s fashion, food, music,culture and to showcase all of the beautiful places on the continent. There is so much more to the continent than safari! And Africa is full of it’s own celebrities with incredibly devoted fans and even tabloid media. Fans that will spend their last bit of money to see them perform. I can’t tell you how excited I am for this opportunity…a chance to showoff all we have to offer.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
People who despite their circumstances are trying to make a difference in the lives of others inspire me. We live in such a ‘me’ society that we forget how privileged we are. And I’m guilty of doing that…I used to be so hung up on how difficult my childhood was and I used to live in the past…but guess what, that childhood made me the person that I am today. It’s easy to focus on the wrongs in your life but once you show gratitude for what is right in your life, you learn to appreciate every aspect of your life, especially the hard parts. Nothing good ever comes easily.
Are you ever uninspired? If so, how do you get over the slump?
Always. Right now I am. I feel discouraged because I approached a few stations and every Programming Director told me they loved the idea....BUT....
The good news is that a station I’ve always wanted to work for wants to see the pilot…so the door is still open. I have to get over the slump because this isn’t about me. I can’t take it personally. The mission is bigger than myself. Even if one person sees the show and says ‘I didn’t know that about Africa’ that would be so dope! Growing up in a small town in Ontario, kids in my school used to ask me if Africans wore clothes or if we had cars. Even when I was in university at Ryerson in Toronto, some of my classmates thought we lived in trees and swung from vine to vine, (which was really annoying). Kids fine, but folks at the university level should know better. But I’ve already received emails from people about a story we did on Chameleon, an East African musician. He sings in English but also in the indigenous languages of Luganda and Swahili. People are now fans of his even though they don’t really understand what he’s singing about, which is very cool.
Name one item you can't live without?
My MacBook Pro…it’s my main form of communication…whether I’m writing or on Skype talking to family or friends around the world.
Looking ahead....how do you envision the future of www.thisisafricatv.com?
Looking forward, I hope to raise the capital to travel to as many countries on the continent and to land a broadcaster. In the meantime, we’ll be online at http://www.thisisafricatv.com/, http://www.tiatv.com/ or on our youtube channel, http://www.youtube.com/thisisafricatv. I hope to showcase the work of as many personalities as possible, to create a dialogue on the issues that hinder the continent, to denounce outdated stereotypes and to celebrate Africa!!!
Any advice for newbies starting out?
Just do it. Don’t be afraid of things not working out. I still have to work on that myself…lol…but I think if you really believe in something, anything is possible. It’s cliché but I guess it is for a reason. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance. I think the worst thing would be to not do something because you’re afraid. I think fear should be a motivator and not a deterrent. Also turn any adversity into an opportunity.
I hope y'all have been inspired so far:) But there's more, cause you know I can't have an interview without photos!!!
This is Africa Y'all (T.I.A.)
If you want to learn more about This is Africa TV (TIA) Click HERE (or click on any of the other links in this interview) You can send Nam an email too! firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her personal site at www.namsink.com
Well I'm out peeps!