Breathing sports: He is not the first Ugandan to commentate on Africa’s biggest sports channel, but he has been there longest. Andrew Kabuura speaks to Isaac Ssejjombwe about his SuperSport stint and Revved Up show on NTV.
How would you describe yourself?
Determined, self-motivated, sharing, caring and adventurous.
Congs upon your new TV show, Revved Up. How did the idea come about?
The production company I work with has three brilliant minds that I cannot mention here. I was in Nairobi when they called me to come and see an idea they had created. I, however, had two concerns; I had never done a motor show and then that kind of show had never been done in this country, but again, I wanted to take a risk and prove myself. So we sat and discussed, showed Aggie Konde, the NTV MD, the demo and she liked it after watching for only five minutes.
How do you juggle Revved Up and travelling for SuperSport work?
Revved Up is a one-day programme, so I can even shoot four people in one day because it has two segments.
Why would someone who has been in the sports world almost his entire life present a car show?
Many people know me as a sports guy, but I love cars. I grew up watching Top Gear and there is a strong section of people who love cars, especially campusers, businessmen and so on. They are so inquisitive about certain cars and the interest of who has what car is massive in Uganda, especially when it comes to celebrities. So I believed I was the right person to present it.
How long will you be doing this programme?
I have a 52-episode contract with NTV, which means I have to present 52 episodes with 52 celebrities.
Any idea of what will happen after then?
We love the idea, NTV loves it and the sponsors love it too, so when the episodes are done, we shall get back on the drawing board and see if we can run a second season.
Does it necessarily have to be posh cars, because some of the cars we see on the show are not cheap at all.
What really matters is someone being a celebrity and the comfort they have with their car, what someone has to say about the car and what advice they have concerning that specific car.
Is the show eligible for all celebrities or is it specific?
So long as someone adds value to the programme, we shall film them. From Wavamuno, Maama Fina, the Rich Gang, name them. We believe we can film anyone so long as we have interest in your car and you are willing for us to do it.
Does this mean it is the end of Andrew Kabuura, the sports guy?
Not at all. That’s not even a thought. Sports journalism is my life. I have fallen in love with sports over the years and I believe I’m the luckiest sports journalist on the planet. Not that I haven’t put in any effort but my career started in 2009 before the World Cup-2010 in South Africa; I have been a presenter on Radio City, worked at NTV as a sports presenter and I work with the biggest pay TV in Africa – SuperSport. I feel I’m excited about this career, although I’m not yet where I want to be.
So, how did you get into sports journalism?
It was one Saturday morning when I read a local newspaper with a column that said ‘write a sports letter, email it and if we like it, we will use it’. I got excited and sent in the first piece, it wasn’t used, sent in another and it didn’t run, so I gave up but two weeks later they called and said they liked my pieces and told me to pass by for pictures. After three articles, they offered me a job on radio and I grew from a weekly show to a daily one. After four months of working as a presenter, that is mid-2009, my boss got an email from Free Voice, a Dutch company that wanted six African radio journalists who can present the World Cup from an African perspective. I was his first choice, so I applied by sending in clips I had done for the past week and luckily I was among the final 30 who were sent to Egypt, Nigeria and Ghana (10 each). I was in the Lagos batch and I interviewed Nwankwo Kanu and Victor Ikpeba among others. On return, they had to choose the top six who would cover the World Cup in South Africa. I came fourth.
Is that what opened doors to Super Sport?
When I returned, doors really opened up for me. I started working at NTV, then Radio City and one day we hosted Kavuma Kabenge on NTV. He was the brains behind SuperSport airing the Ugandan league and at the time USL had wrangles with Fufa. So we had a chat and from nowhere, he said, “you are a good presenter. Why don’t you work with SuperSport?” I told him to connect me, and he arranged a meeting for me with the directors at Namboole the following week. I was first chased away because of my attire and told to return the following week. I did a take and they said I was good to go.
Would you rate yourself as Uganda’s best sports journalist?
I don’t believe I’m the best sports journalist in Uganda.
If you are not the best, then who do you think is the best?
I have a couple of folks I idolise and think are good; Vianney Nsimbe, who takes off time to research about everything, Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo can talk about everything in a basic way; cricket, volleyball, netball and football, Brian Tuka, Patrick Kanyomozi, Darren Allan Kyeyune and those I grew up watching, Ahmed Hussein, Mark Ssali, Joseph Kabuleta, Mark Namanya and Allan Ssekamate.
How grateful are you for this SuperSport gig?
I have met legends such as Thomas Mulambo, one of my African idols.
Who interested you in sports?
Russell Fuller was my biggest inspiration. He presented Sports World on BBC, which I think was the original show that got me into sport. I would listen to him, close the door then pretend that I was presenting like him.
Why do you think the Uganda Cranes have failed to reach the top?
Our league is not that competitive; the same player will play the entire season, be selected for Cecafa, and then be in the same squad that plays the qualifiers. It’s basically the same squad in different competitions but thank God, under Micho, it is changing. We have seen new entrants in certain competitions. Players such as Farouk Miya, Baba Kizito, Khaled Aucho, Savio Kabugo and others. The other problem is that we also don’t have the fundamentals as a country to nurture talent. You cannot find a senior player who started out young at national level.
How do you rate Micho as a coach?
I think he has been the best at going back to basics. I have never met a coach who does preparations like him. He knows the details of the entire team that we will be competing with in our next game.
Who would you say is Uganda’s greatest footballer ever?
If Farouk Miya doesn’t get injured, I think he will be. Even better than Majid Musisi, who played for Stade Rennes in France. Miya joined a team which will play in the Uefa Champion’s League next season and will probably be in the starting XI. The attention he is going to get will probably get him to an even bigger team.
Let’s talk women… Are you dating?
I am not dating and what you have seen in the papers is rumours.
But we have heard you and Flavia Tumusiime have a thing going.
Let me just say that Flavia is a beautiful soul, and a good friend. But the Ugandan media believe that you cannot talk to a beautiful lady and she is your friend.
Anything else you do besides sports and TV?
I’m working so hard at SuperSport and Revved Up so that I can start up my own production company.
What does it take for someone to make it to SuperSport?
Listen to international media, watch more international TV, ask relevant questions, be more analytical, get contacts, do more research, and be sure of what you are talking about.
Your ideal woman…
There are three things; carefree but intelligent, down to earth and hot.
Your philosophy in life…
Do everything you can as long as it is within your means and do not fear to fail.
Messi vs Ronaldo…
There is no debate. Messi is a much better footballer than Ronaldo. He is a team player and combines pace, power, team work and skill.
Your all-time best local footballer…
I’m torn between choosing Jimmy Kirunda and Majid Musisi.
You want to be remembered as…
That kid from Ntungamo, who followed his passion and did everything he could to reach the highest level. A guy who fought to achieve his dream.
Best artiste in Uganda?
Five local songs…
Mulirwana King Saha, Bantu Baffe Ziza Bafana, Selfie by Koffi Olomidde, Loving by A Pass and all Bobi Wine songs.
I used to play football but no anymore because of my work schedule.
Motivation words from anyone that you will never forget…
“You ask me for transport every morning but I’ve never asked you where you work but because I see you like what you are doing, I’m going to give you a chance to push as I pay for it until you see where you are going,” Mr Steven Rwangyezi, my guardian, who made me believe that I never lost a father. He told me those words when I had just received an email that I was among the top six out of 300 people to go to Lagos.