With more than 44,000 followers on Facebook, Sesa Bat – a social media comic – has entertained us with hilarious memes, emojis and funny videos for over five years. From spending Valentines’ day with Rihanna and sharing Zari Hassan’s bed to holding the world cup trophy, Sesa Bat is proof that if you can’t make it then you can fake it. JANE JUSTINE MIREMBE caught up with him.
We have seen the name Sesa Bat on so many memes and photos on social media. Who is Sesa Bat?
Sesa Bat is the king of PhotoShop, also called Olulenzi (loosely translated to mean a handsome young man). I am a social media comedian.
Tell us about this name Olulenzi.
Back in school I used to be a ladies’ man so girls were always saying, “I love that guy. He is funny. At the same time he is a performer,” so I picked the name because I felt hot.
What made you so famous in school?
I used to be a rapper. Have you heard my version of Who is Who?
Yes I have
Don’t you see that I challenged Feffe Bussi? In fact my former school mates know me for rapping not comedy. I have some serious punch lines.
(Breaks into rap. Not that we are killing your dream, but Sesa Bat we really think you should stick to PhotoShop)
Watch Sesa Bat’s Who is Who video here:
Away from the comedy and rap, who is Sesa Bat?
I am a humble guy. I don’t do all those crazy things I do on social media. My real name is Tonda Nasser and I come from a Muslim background.
Why the name Sesa Bat?
My cousin baptized me the name Sesa Bat because I was a very funny child. When my dad was alive, I used to entertain his guests. I was that kid who was everywhere. So my cousin was like “Naye gwe Nasser otusesa nyo. Why don’t we begin calling you Sesa?” I added ‘Bat’ because it is the only flying mammal. I find myself different from other people. The way I do my things, the way I think. I feel like I am a bat. So that is where Sesa Bat came from.
Which schools did you go to?
I went to Omega Primary School, Kisaasi College and Merry land. In all the schools I went to I was a celeb. There is a school I went to for only one term and in my first week there I performed on stage. I got the crowd wild. I remember there is a hot girl called Loraine who came looking for me in the dormitory. When I met her I was so shocked that a girl that looked that good could even have interest in me. She walked me to the class room and told me to sit next to her. We became seat mates for the rest of the term. From that time, everything was in my favour.
Is this Loraine the lady whose phone you fill up with memes about love?
(Laughs) Not at all. I think she is happily married now and has like two kids.
Oh sorry. We were hoping for happily ever after with Loraine. Anyway who is the lucky lady in your life now?
You know I am Olulenzi so I’m still scanning the market. I have someone but I first want to confirm whether she can tolerate my comedy, and if she can stay without going to Chicken Tonight. I want someone who will be there for me in both good and bad times.
When did you start taking PhotoShop seriously?
I made a number of emoji pictures and they gave me a breakthrough on social media. After posting them, they went everywhere, Dubai, England. I had people from Nigeria inboxing me and inviting me to go to their country. Shortly after that I photoshopped myself standing with Rihanna. The picture looked so real that in just two minutes it had gotten over 300 likes.
People were excited and calling me ‘the first Ugandan to meet Rihanna’. So when I saw how widely that picture was shared I decided to make several more and see how I can turn this into something real. I recently made one when I was holding the world cup trophy. People thought it was real and they wondered how I was allowed to hold that trophy when it is only presidents allowed to touch it.
The emoji pictures was an interesting idea. How did you come up with them?
I was chatting with one of my friends some time and he was over sending me emojis. So I thought I could do something out of these emojis since people like them so much. I took a series of pictures with different emotions, edited them, gridded them and posted them. There and then they went viral. There were students in a class in England who video-called me saying they were studying about my work. From that day Sesa Bat became something else on social media.
How big is the team you work with?
I work alone. I shoot the videos alone, go to my phone, edit and post. It’s like a team comprised of a camera man, editor, social media expert all in one person, Sesa Bat.
Has your life changed in any way since you went viral on social media?
A little bit. I am a celebrity to some people. At times I’m walking on the street and people I do not know wave at me shouting “Sesa Bat olulenzi”. It happens like every day. People also keep inboxing me. I get about 70 messages from strangers per day. I am not where I want to be but I at least have very many loyal followers.
Surely with this ‘celeb status’ ladies must be after you.
I have always been a ladies’ man but there is a fan who got a tattoo of my name on her back.
Oh we saw that. Was it a real tattoo?
Yes it was real. Some people dissed her. They found it abnormal but it’s her decision, her body and her life.
Do you know why she got it?
She called me and said she liked my work then she asked to meet me. The first time I met her she was really excited. She asked if I could allow her to get a tattoo of my name on her body. I said “Why not?” We met the next day and she had a fresh tattoo on her back with bruises. Another fan sent me a video showing a very big framed picture of mine in her sitting room and yet she is a married woman.
That must have felt good. What has been your proudest moment in this journey?
There is a time I was hosted on a local TV station and during the interview Mr Peter Mayiga, the Buganda prime minister – who was watching the show called the station and asked that I meet him. I was taken to his office in Mengo and we chatted for about 30 minutes.
But I have also met artistes like Sheebah and gotten many connections so I feel proud that I am putting my social media accounts to good use.
What have you gotten out of PhotoShop?
I have gotten clients coming to my inbox asking me to do work for them. People in the diaspora ask me to Photoshop them next to their partners they left in Uganda. That way I get some money. My Photoshop skills and social media comedy have become my side income. People go to comedy shows to relieve themselves of the day’s stress but I came up with a plan to entertain them on social media since that is where they spend most of their time.
If PhotoShop and comedy bring side income, what is your main source of income?
I have a restaurant in Ntinda and I am also a financial consultant.
Have you annoyed some people with these things you do?
Of course but I do not have any bad intentions when I’m doing my work. I don’t beef any celebs. I mimic them because I’m celebrating them. Just like people play Beyonce’s music because they love her, it’s the same way I will celebrate her by photoshopping myself with her or making a meme out of her. I don’t do it to tarnish their name.
Speaking of celebs, you received a lot of backlash after you photoshopped yourself with Rema and Kenzo’s six-year-old daughter Aamal. How did you handle that?
People were asking how I could Photoshop myself with a young girl. I just told them that this was PhotoShop. It’s not like I was with her in real life. I’m just celebrating her.
But Sheila Don Zella (a socialite) took it personal when you made memes about her and her rival Zari.
Don Zella is a sharp socialite and business woman and I respect her for that. But she went out of line with her attacks on Zari. Zari is my friend and Don Zella was making live videos in which she abused Zari who has even never replied her. Last year when Zari had her All-white party and Don Zella also put her red party on the same date, I made some memes out of Zari and Don Zella’s pictures which went viral. Don Zella came to my inbox quarrelling and telling me to stay out of their issues. But it’s now history.
Why are you always so quick to defend Zari though?
Some people say I am obsessed with Zari. Some say I’m Zari’s side bae. When she broke up with Diamond Platnumz, people thought was that she was now dating me. People actually think we are an item. There is a picture I photoshopped of me and Zari seemingly holding each other and it went viral. Tanzanian bloggers begun to say that Zari had moved on with another muscular guy called Sesa Bat. Kenyans begun flocking my inbox asking how I could make a fellow man cry by taking the mother of his kids. But we are just friends with her.
What keeps you going despite the critics?
My mum is my biggest cheerleader. She follows me and supports me, together with my sister. Even when I am bashed or people question why I do certain things like wearing a dress in some of my skits, they support me. If the people close to me love what I do then I will keep doing it.
Also the fact that I started earning money from social media encourages me. I used to promote people businesses and brands for free just because I had a big following. But last year my sister advised me to earn from my social media. So I began charging people who wanted me to market their products. I started this thing jokingly but I now want to push it further.
What are your dreams and ambitions?
I want to go to Hollywood. I see myself doing a lot of things. Even though people share my work, I feel like I should be beyond this. Judging from the kind of work I have done if I was in the US I would be getting much appreciation and recognition. So I want to get a wider audience. I want to fill the whole world with my talent.
Hollywood! Big dreams there. What are you doing to achieve this?
Well am doing many videos and putting them out there. Never know Bill Gates might be going through Facebook posts and comes across one of mine.
I one time photoshopped myself looking like a pygmy kissing a tall lady. Osita Iheme (famous Nigerian actor of the Aki and Popo fame) saw it and thought I was his long lost brother. He posted the picture and said congs to me on scoring such a good looking woman. It’s a group of Ugandan fans who reported me saying, “Waaa that’s PhotoShop. That guys is not a pygmy.” But all the same, I got credit for my PhotoShop skills and that is all i wanted to showcase.
Video by Jane Justine Mirembe