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The ugly side of being famous

Clockwise: Patricia Apolot, Eleanor Nabwiso, Cinderalla (Cindy) Sanyu, Brian Ahumuza, Edirisa Musuuza, Eddie Kenzo

In the limelight: “I want to be rich and famous,” is a common saying among youth. Becoming successful is not an entirely bad idea.However, it is always important to know that a certain achievement can also end up becoming a burden to an individual. Esther Oluka spoke to five different young achievers about the dark side of fame and how they deal with the different challenges of being in the limelight.

Brian Ahumuza, 28
Brian Ahumuza is the proprietor of the Abryanz Collection and the annual Abryanz Style and Fashion Awards (Asfas). Started in 2013, the Asfas are a renown fashion event that attracts different players in the industry as well as awards those who are doing an incredible job in the fashion industry. Undoubtedly, the glamorous stylish event has now made Ahumuza a household name. As much as fame comes with a number of benefits, Ahumuza admits that there is always a price to pay.
“I normally tend to think twice before doing anything. A case in point, I do not just post anything on Facebook out of fear of certain repercussions. Sometimes I inquire from my team whether I should post something or not,” Ahumuza says.
Among the shortcoming that comes with fame is that people always have high expectations of famous people.
“They do not expect you to do certain things. There are occasions I have, for example, taken a boda boda and some people make a big deal out of it. They do not expect this of me,” he says.
The fame also comes with too much pressure to deliver results, and, according to Ahumuza, if one is not careful, the pressure can make you sick.
On how he deals with the overwhelming demands of fame, Ahumuza says he always tries to remind himself of the kind of person he was before he became popular.
“I was a hustler back then struggling to make ends meet. I always try as much as possible not to forget the kind of person I was before the fame. For example, using a boda boda is something I used to do in the past, so, certainly there is no problem with it,” he says.
Ahumuza emphasises the need for young famous people to always try to retain a normal aspect of their lives by not surrendering entirely to societal expectations.

Levixone, 26
The renowned gospel artiste is known for hits such as Esala, Ponya and his latest hit, Turn The Replay. He admits to also have personally dealt with the burden of being famous.
“People see you on television and think you have money, yet, in actual sense, the money is not even there,” he says.
According to Levixone, there are instances where a person may in fact be famous without having money.
Also, there is the aspect of old friends distancing themselves with the mentality that the now famous person is no longer part of their social class.
“I don’t like it when old friends start shunning me. I am a people person. I always endeavour to keep in touch with those friends who knew me before my fame because they know my humble beginnings and I cannot afford to just throw away such friends,” he says.
The Gospel singer says when one is a public figure, it is always difficult to distinguish the people who genuinely love you, the pretentious ones as well as those who only like you for the fame.

Cinderalla (Cindy) Sanyu, 33

Cindy’s popularity kicked off right from her Blu* 3 days, a trio of herself, Jackie Chandiru and Lilian Mbabazi. The girl-band was formed in 2004 after winning the television show, Coca Cola popstars. Today, each girl is doing a solo-career with Cindy mostly known for her dancehall music. According to Cindy, the society is not tolerant with celebrities.
“We are judged very harshly when we make a mistake. Society expects perfection from the artiste all the time, which is not humanly possible. They want to decide how you should dress, talk and walk,” she says.
The fame status also offers limited time for celebrities to spend time with their families or have any real relationships. She adds that there are so many factors against artistes all the time, for example, manipulative promoters, police, haters, television presenters, rival record labels, other artistes, among other factors.
“These people fight artistes every single day so there is no rest for a musician in Uganda,” she says.
On how she deals with the numerous challenges that come with fame, Cindy says she has stopped caring too much about public opinion and tries as much as possible to surround herself with truthful and hardworking people.

Edirisa Musuuza, Eddie Kenzo, 29
A renowned musician in the country, Kenzo who is popular for songs such as Stamina and Sitya Loss, says the biggest challenge of being in the spotlight is the loss of privacy.
“The problem with being famous is that people want to always be part of your business. They want to know everything including what you eat. They fail to respect your boundaries,” he says.
His coping mechanism: “I always try to stand grounded by being myself.”

Eleanor Nabwiso, 29
Eleanor Nabwiso is mostly known for her acting roles in various movie and series production. A few years ago, she acted in the popular NTV series, The Hostel, which was centered on the lives of a group of students living together in a hostel.
She played the role of Hope, a young Christian girl struggling to find her way in a secular setting. From then onwards, Nabwiso has appeared in other productions including Rain and currently, she is lead actress in TV series Family that shows on NTV every Sunday.
Her acting roles have without doubt thrust her into the limelight. Regarding what challenges she faces being in the spotlight, Nabwiso says, “It is hard to get the right friends. It is difficult to find people who are interested in knowing the real you (outside the fame). That is why they say, it is lonely at the top,” Nabwiso says.
Despite the challenges that come with fame, Nabwiso emphasises she always tries to remain herself. “I am me. I do not change because of peer pressure. I live within my means and I do not fake it. This has given me a piece of mind.”

Patricia Apolot, 28
Dubbed the queen of kickboxing, Apolot is notably recognised within the sports fraternity for her remarkable contribution to the sport. According to the World Kickboxing Federation International title holder, some of the challenges she has faced for being in the spotlight is the frequent judgement from people.
“People say all sorts of demeaning and hurtful things when you are in the limelight, for example, they will say things like the reason some young female personalities are successful is because they have rich sponsors funding their careers, which is a big misconception,” she says, adding, “What people have failed to understand is that we work tirelessly to attain success sometimes with hardly any little help from other people.”
Similarly, Apolot says celebrity friendships are often misrepresented.
“For example, there have been times I have met renowned public figures who are my friends, and someone else will see us and immediately arrive to the wrong conclusions. Personally, I have been branded a prostitute and side dish (mistress) for hanging out with some particular male friends and mentors,” she says.
Apolot adds that sometimes there is the unnecessary attention that comes with the fame.
“All eyes are on you, which can turn out to be very uncomfortable,’ she says.
Apolot adds that famous people also find it quite difficult to differentiate who is genuinely happy with their success.
“What is funny sometimes is that the same people heaping praises on you are the same people who cannot wait for your downfall. They will smile with you, yet, deep down they are wishing you the worst, and, God forbid your career suffers, they will be the first to celebrate and will no longer want to associate with you.”
For such reasons, Apolot says she always tries as much as possible to be mindful of the people she surrounds herself with. On how she deals with the pressure of fame, Apolot asserts that she always tries to be herself.
“I live my life in my own way and not according to people’s expectations.”

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