Upclose. Godfrey Nsereko is a popular local content creator, cinematographer and runs Theatre Focus Uganda, an online theatre platform. The proprietor of Abieva Photography, Nsereko is an actor, commonly known for his role Nakanwaagi on online family theatre where he acts as Taata Angel, writes Gabriel Buule.
The entertainment sector in Uganda seems to be heavily affected by Covid-19. How are you coping?
For theatres, the situation was not even better before lockdown. The lockdown only meant that the doors to theatres and other venues had to be slammed shut. Performance revenue was foiled but creativity never stopped.
When Covid-19 happened, I got time to think bigger which prompted me to take to the stage unlike before when I was a director, cinematographer and writer. I took to digital theatre utilising online platforms such as YouTube and other social media which have perhaps paid off.
Above all, the lockdown gave us a room to think and create more crafts unlike before when we could rush scripts to tap into a small audience.
Does digital theatre make sense to Uganda’s creative industry?
The future is digital, social media platforms and streaming services are defining the new age of communication and the arts industry.
Most people are busy and they find it hard to attend physical concerts yet they own smartphones, computers and have access to the internet.
Digital platforms are creating a new wave of audience and numbers are improving as time passes. All that needs to be fixed is piracy and also government must ease access to internet.
Is there any way government can rescue the arts industry?
It is a bad idea that citizens can thrive on begging from government, the best idea is to ask government to provide lasting avenues for people to make their own money.
Firstly, the government should deal with Internet connection speed, penetration, and the bandwidth and data prices so that Ugandans can be able to access streaming services such as YouTube at good speed. Also , they should ensure affordable prices to pave way for digital consumption of the arts.
Secondly, the copyright issue that is yet to be addressed. Most creatives toil to create content but fall victim to piracy by some members of the public and sometimes mainstream media outlets.
Lastly, there is need for a fully funded arts ministry. This is an avenue artistes can go to acquire grants and loans to fund projects and also buy proper equipment. I mean, we need quality work if we are to earn from this industry and we can only do that if we have a supportive ministry.
Besides going digital, what else can be done?
Individual artistes need to support one another rather than trading malice and unhealthy competition. Also, the media must support local content for the arts industry to progress.
Why theatre not any other art genre?
People are talented differently. It is theatre and film that define my craft. However, theatre is a mother to many arts genres that include music, comedy, and film.
Is it a paying venture anyway?
Yes, when you look at it as business. However, like any other business, the output is defined by the investment.
Artists have been benefiting from government during the lockdown, how much did you get?
Your first job was…?
Selling avocado around Nnamugoona in Kampala. We had an Avocado tree in our compound so instead of eating it, I saw it as a source of income.
What was your first salary?
Who inspired your career?
My wife! Somehow, she always pushed and encouraged me to be in front of the camera. My crews from Theatre Focus Uganda and some of the big men that I have met in the arts industry.
What do you like about your job?
Making people smile. It feels good when I see the audience likening it to anti-stress tablets.
As a child, when did you first watch TV?
When I was a toddler.
When did you first watch a theatre play?
I was in Senior Two at old Kampala Secondary School and I got an opportunity to watch Bakayimbira Dramactors who were performing at Pride Theatre in Old Kampala.
What makes you unique?
I am me! Scripts come from my head and my daily life is a script. So I do not copy or translate other people’s work. Give me a character and I will deliver to perfection. Wake me up any time, any day and I will be the best.