The NTV reporter has made a name out of a political parody show. Edgar R. Batte got to know more about her
Who is Agnes Nandutu
Agnes Nandutu is a simple person, although now a regional household name. I am a Bududa landslide survivor from Mbale because my relatives and neighbours back home were affected and some died.
How do you become a regional household name?
I am not just regional but also international, because the work I do at NTV is accessed globally on Youtube.
What is the funniest joke you’ve heard someone crack?
It was cracked by Norbert Mao during the Walk To Work demonstrations. He said that the NRM government is a sugar-coated dictatorship and Ugandans are now feeling the bitter pill.
One of the reasons you’ve become a popular reporter is the way in which you sign off, the prolonged way in which you say your name … “I am Agnes Nandutuuuuu …” Does this come naturally?
What do you experience when you talk to me? Do I sound different as I am speaking to you? To the best of my knowledge I am what I am in and outside my house.
You are hilarious particularly during the weekly dose of humour slot, Point Blank, you do on NTV … Does humour come naturally to you?
Actually you know what, people find me hilarious. If you went to our newsroom at NTV they will tell you I am humorous and when I am not there they feel the ‘humour pinch’ as you would feel the economic pinch. In fact I have just been on leave and they are saying I was MIA – Missing In Action.
The humour comes naturally to me. Even at Parliament where I report, they were asking where I had been. I am a free and approachable person, which makes me likeable to many people.
It’s evident you are a natural as a hilarious character. Are you also a fan of comedy?
I don’t watch comedy at all, in fact Mic Check and Fun Factory keep making jokes about me but it is my friends that tell me that these comedians love making jokes about me. Of course I find it fun doing Point Blank. I have so many fans that whenever this programme is running, people call me to confess that I am cracking their ribs.
What Point Blank episode cracked you up the most, that you had to sign off more than once?
You know I don’t laugh when I am doing Point Blank, but the drama at Kasangati between Retired Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye and police as they chased each other in the yams and wetland as he tried to dodge them to come to town was hilarious.
Seya has been one of your big victims on Point Blank, have you met him?
In fact I was given an award for Best Entertainment Programme at the Edutainment Africa Awards, for Point Blank. Coincidentally, they didn’t inform me but Seya was there and he received the award on my behalf. When I later showed up we were called back to the platform and Seya handed me the accolade and reminded me that he is still minister of Fort Portal instead of saying he was minister without portfolio. That was funny.
For Point Blank, which politician have you found funniest?
Gen. Kahinda Otafiire. He is naturally funny. Even when he is summoned to the committees he makes members laugh, I hear even when cabinet sits he makes the president laugh.
If you were to have a serious conversation with Gen. Otafiire, what would you talk about?
Fighting corruption, but we will always turn it into a joke. I have never gone to cover a session where Gen. Otafiire is and not gone away satisfied I have a Point Blank episode. One time he said that the police undressed Kampala Woman MP Hon. Nabila Nagayi because she is pretty and asked, “Can they undress an ugly person like Otafiire?”
There was this episode of Full-full condition … did you think it would become a big joke?
I never knew. You know Point Blank is put together through efforts of the whole newsroom. They give me these ideas of clips they think are funny and fitted for Point Blank and I see how to work on them. So when the Full-full condition clip was brought to me, I saw this man who had taken one too many though he was convinced he knew his English but he ended up cracking people’s ribs. The clip became viral on youtube, but I didn’t expect it to.
What other reactions do you get from viewers that watch Point Blank?
A lot of people of course call and send me messages. There are a group of people who actually made a show out of me and this programme in a public place. They advertised the event, telling people I would be making a guest appearance at the show!
They should have approached NTV management because Point Blank airs on the station and it is not my programme. Well, people like me for my good presentation and for the last three years I have been voted one of the best Ugandans.
Fame has followed me downtown and when I go to markets people scream my name. Many people would like to see me physically, they will go like, “I can’t believe I am seeing you Agnes Nandutu … I am shaking hands with you.” They really appreciate what I do.
It is because you make fun of others…what is the funniest joke you heard was about you?
That I broke the doors of Parliament to steal the Temangalo documents, and that I am a romantic lady… (Chuckles).
Are you romantic?
I don’t know (laughs on). I don’t have to be or look romantic to everybody. I am romantic to a person I am supposed to be romantic to but when I am working, I should be serious with my work, so things should be done in the right places at the right time.
Are you a fan of telenovelas?
What is the striking difference between you and Salvador Serenza?
Salvador is an actor but I am a professional. I am more popular than him because my popularity is continuous yet his was tied to a soap and it ended.
You might not like or be a fan of comedy but have you ever considered joining comedy as hobby or career?
Not at all. I think that is what people see, but I feel that I can do some other more serious and bigger things.
You mean more serious things like perhaps joining politics, because we’ve heard you have considered it as a career option…
I haven’t thought about it yet.
But you have what it takes for a career in politics…
You know people can look at you as a potential something but when you don’t feel it inside you, then you can’t do it. I don’t feel like taking on comedy or politics but people have encouraged me to join politics but I feel I should continue serving Uganda as a journalist.
Journalism is a calling and I don’t want to abandon it yet, until God says so. You know journalists tend to leave the profession early because there are no greener pastures but if it’s a calling, you will pursue it and not mind the money.
How long have you practiced journalism?
It’s now more than 10 years.
Walk me through your journey as a journalist …
I started out at Impact FM, which was my first salary job. I had prior done freelancing with Radio Uganda. I also worked for UTV (now UBC) and The Monitor before I joined NTV in 2008.
If you were to leave journalism, what other career would you opt into?
God knows. I have many plans but it will be Him to implement.
Away from work, what is your social life like?
But do I have a social life outside work and home? Unless I am at a staff party with colleagues, which is once a year. I am a person who is dedicated to my work and family.
Are you married?
Hahaha, the definition of marriage is different in Uganda but I have somebody and I have children.
How many children do you have?
No need to know. I am a mother of many children.
How is motherhood?
Difficult but interesting. It is part of the natural things that a human being has to go through. I have had mine in journalism and you know it is difficult because we leave the newsroom at 10pm. People have laughed at me while I was pregnant and running around with a microphone looking for news.
So how do you balance between work and family?
I do all. I have to work but knowing I have a breastfeeding baby. Sometimes I will have to travel up-country for four days and return and breast feed.
Is it true you play football as a hobby?
It’s netball. We have a netball team at NTV. I can kick-start the football game but I think I have outgrown having to play the whole 90 minutes.
What are your last words?
To our fans out there, we know they love us but they should know that we love them most. We thank them for making NTV their number one station at home and in their offices and we are going to give them the best in 2012.