ALEX OUT: The entertainment fraternity is paying tribute to Alex Ndawula, a deejay and radio presenter whose 20-plus years on the FM airwaves redefined the local music industry. Ndawula’s impact on local radio has been so profound that in death, many celebrate his life and times.
Jacobs Odongo Seaman pieces together what Ndawula, who signed out on Monday at 59, went through in life.
DJ Berry: Ah, Alex, is that really you or do we have a Jamaican sporting your face here?
Alex Ndawula: Man, it is the realest me. You left before I had started plaiting my hair, let alone locking it.
DJ Berry: You lived long, mate. We have waited for years here.
Alex Ndawula: My old friend Abdul Aziz Nsabimana, the man whose name gave feelings south of Sahara (laughter). What took you too long? I left the other side too soon. In America radio DJs work even at 70 but I was only 59. I still had it in me and the fans still loved what I was giving them.
Chazio: It is really him. We have waited for so long, Alex. We had even forgotten you.
Allan Mugisha: Shake, Shake, Shake your bums, guys! Man, had you given up on your architecture dream back there or you were still chasing it?
Alex Ndawula: Only if you have given up on bragging that you are the most handsome Munyoro in the whole world [laughs]. My architecture dream is alive. The first thing I looked around for when I was shoved in here is if there is a chance of another Makerere to enroll in but it is disappointing. Nothing here too. Now even here I might end up in Nakawa doing photography and designing signages like before. Scary!
Allan Mugisha: See who has forgotten already. The cantankerous one is the most handsome Munyoro in the whole of Hoima.
Bob Bashabe: You did not cry when Sanyu kicked you out but you cried when Capital did moreover in your old age…
Alex Ndawula: You still have lugambo, Bob! Some people just never change. No wonder you specialised in love things and had people bring their bedroom affairs on air, mbu Late Date. As a matter of fact, I did not cry. Capital said I leave. The fans cried and threatened to send Capital to Medium Wave where the likes of Peter Loshode Habari Gani did their things. Just like that, Capital called me back. But who gives you news from the other side? By the way, have you seen Mr Emmanuel Ndawula around? That’s my dad, to say.
DJ Ronnie: It is a big world this side too. He could be in the America of here. We just know those we already knew, ourselves. Even your former workmate Elly Wamala is hard to meet here. Now, did they find out what killed me that side?
Alex Ndawula: I am surprised you have not asked me who is hosting Late Date now. That side, cause of death and such things, you cannot get them. You would easily beat the president in his own election than for cause of death to be established (laughs).
Where is Bangi?
DJ Berry: He must be outside there still sulking over his sudden departure or telling geezers who came here too tired for life stories about oldies music. He does that a lot here. Now, I see you had almost grown twice Bangi’s size, and with that height, you must have been towering in Kampala.
Alex Ndawula: Towering? You over simplify me. Yes, I dress good, look good, speak good and some even said I puffed good (laughs). But I am simply the greatest, the all-time best radio DJ in Uganda. There is no debate there.
Allan Mugisha: Greatest what? You think Hoima was in Somalia? You were not even known that much when I was there. I ruled the airwaves. I was hot like Hot 7 at 7. I shook bums with my hits and entertained even dust on the tables.
David Bruno: Eh, at this rate, we might need Christine Mawadri over here to cool down the tempers as usual.
Bob Bashabe: Ah, Christine! How is she? Was she still spanking sense into your fake accented self, Alex?
Alex Ndawula: But you all know I was born in New York. You could say I imported the authentic American accent into Uganda.
DJ Ronnie: Christine, she was not just cooling tempers, she was literally the human alarm bell for Alex back there. The guy would come for the breakfast show and start snoring in the studio and Christine had to slap the snore out of him so many times.
Alex Ndawula: That is the problem with lugambo. When others were doing great shows that got them voted by the newspaper as the Best Radio DJ year after year, you were there serenading love upstarts with sleepy music and emotional live Collin-in stuff. You guys really wasted airtime. Anyway, because I was this big, Christine needed more energy to tap me. What you guys saw as a slap was just mere stroking of my cheeks and where you claim to have heard me snoring was just some sound breath from a man of my size.
DJ Bangi: Look who we have here! Alex, the real Owempologoma if the fresh scent I get is to go by, right? Long time no see. What ha…
Alex Ndawula: It is Alex Michael Felix Ndawula Nga Sunda, Mukonzi, Munyantos, Muchachos, Le Hombre, Owempologoma. And in case you need a reminder, the all-time best radio DJ in Uganda.
DJ Bangi: Look here, mate. I am not those radio callers you liked cutting off rudely on air. Wilfred Bangirana has size. And do not forget we were born on the exact same day, January 8, 1963. You just lived longer, to suffer longer in that unforgiving world.
Allan Mugisha: Yes, Bangi is here to shake, shake, shake some bums guys! I wonder if back there guys are giving Alex undue claims that he started Dance Force.
Alex Ndawula: Hahaha! Allan, Dance Force was me and I am the Da-da-da Dance Force.
Allan: Dance Force was for DJ Will, that Black American Marine at the US embassy. Will is the one who came up with the name Dance Force and you only took over when Will returned to the US.
Alex Ndawula: Well, go to Kampala, Jinja, Karamoja or even your Hoima. Everyone will tell you I am Dance Force.
Allan Mugisha: John Katto, the man who fired you from Sanyu after just two weeks, always said you were a flawed genius, do you agree?
Alex Ndawula: Is this some form of interview for being here? If so, I would rather fail the interview and return that side. If there was any flaw, it was in Katto’s imagination. My work speaks for itself. Whenever I put off callers who did not know the intention of the call-line and wanted to send greetings to their line of relatives, cows, ducks and whatnot, they saw me as rude, but radio is airtime and airtime is very expensive.
What some saw as arrogance was confidence and a way of keeping the listeners hooked to the show. Can you imagine some people were even offended by my laughter? Why? How would I be Alex Michael Felix Ndawula Nga Sunda, Mukonzi, Munyantos, Muchachos Owempologoma without my laughter? It’s like you, Allan, without…
Allan Mugisha: Without what?
Alex Ndawula: Coca-Cola, did you think I would say booze, which was your bedmate? The moment Coke left Hot 7, the thing just died.
Allan Mugisha: Wrong. It rebranded to 7 at 7.
Alex Ndawula: Well, 7 at 7 was the embalming chemical for Hot 7. The show was already dead but I give it to you, Allan. I liked how you used to shout your lungs out.
DJ Berry: So Alex, if you were given another chance at life, would you go back to America or allow your eight-year-old self be spirited off to Uganda again?
Alex Ndawula: Uganda and that is a no brainer.
Chazio: I guess because of Druc…
Alex Ndawula: I do not really have regrets in life. My idea of fun as a child centered on playing basketball, swimming, playing music and I loved to read. I would get all these things in Kampala. I dreamt of being an architect but did not study it, marketing decided to study me instead.
Bob Bashabe: I gerrit, bro. After all, your Drucilla is in Kampala.
DJ Ronnie: Bob, they separated.
Bob Bashabe: What!?
DJ Ronnie: It was sad, so sad. Circa 2014. When Drucilla walked out, good Alex lost all his laughter and was soaked in all sorts of cigarette fumes and booze and whatnot. He cried like a baby.
Alex Ndawula: Tell the truth, Ronnie. Isn’t that what you preached to your callers? Now that I think of it, you could have been useful with your sleazy show and maybe got Dru back. But I am this strong; I did not waste away and instead went on with life.
DJ Bruno: But Alex, you would go on Ronnie’s or Bashabe’s Late Date and allow them to probe you with emotional questions on why Dru left?
DJ Ronnie: For Dru, he would have done anything. Besides, I would have gone easy on him. This is a man who feared driving a mere car, why would you go hard on him over driving…
Alex Ndawula: Stop right there, dude. Even the tabloid you left there is no more so why the sleaze? Does anyone here have some rolled sticks?
Allan Mugisha: We have no BATU here. And no Winna Classic either. You will wear that same cloth daily until…
Alex Ndawula: What the hell! Winna Classic, that was of long ago. It died even before your Hot 7. What of porn hub? Even that is not here? Isn’t this too boring?
DJ Bangi: You will get used. I can imagine right now Robert Kabushenga is playing Shalamar’s A Night to Remember for you, Aleku. Just get used to this place, you will not need to fear driving or worry about fuel prices and such things.
DJ Bruno: I am told he was feted with a car and a fat envelope upon retirement. For a man who cannot drive, he must have sold the car.
Alex Ndawula: And what is wrong with that? It was my car.
Bob Bashabe: The man has just arrived, let him rest. It was not easy out there as you saw him having to quit Nakasero Primary School due to asthma and run for cleaner air in Nairobi then return to Kisubi and run to Nairobi again before finally settling…
Alex Ndawula: Impressive! You have crammed my bio. Go on. I went to Namasagali which is now a relic, and also Caltec Academy. But radio was in my veins. From Sanyu to Good Morning Kampala, Morning Crew, Overdrive, Sundowner, and Dance Force, I made people crazy about radio.
DJ Ronnie: True, I can imagine right now guys are speaking of how they slept in banana plantations in western Uganda to just be able to receive the signal for 91.3 Capital FM to enjoy Dance Force. And you were as engaging as Bob and myself.
Alex Ndawula: I do not know about being engaging in sleaze but I know I was good. Only the best did breakfast shows, and I did that for a whopping 23 years!
Rest in peace legend and master Alexander Ndawula ,, thanks for everything you did for me with Christine Mawadri while still presenting the morning crew at Capital FM Uganda when I was a very little boy.
I owe my life to you guys
Swt Glamourous Hair Achieng
A champ , a legend , my number one #CapitalFM #Danceforce person bowed out yesterday, A great friend to Glamour beauty salons since 2017 , Alexander Ndawula did our first spa and club musiq collections at no cost , every time a client walked in they could beg us for a copy of the same , some just came to hang around for cool jams, such a reachable person in real life, i did his hair and nails countless times, when he had to trim and down size on the draids we did it at glamour amid both anger and laughter ,he loved our kenyan dishes . To his family , friends and work mates my condolenses , may the Lord give you strength . You played your part in the entertaiment industry with all your strength. Rest in peace champion.
To many you were DJ Alex, to my siblings and myself you are a brother. Thank you for being such a ray of light in my life brother I will miss your infectious laugh and love for life. You touched so many through your love of Music which was your purpose. Thank you so much for all those memories. We shall take great care of Maureen Bobilya our sister. Rest well my Alex I love you dearly
Cynthia Abit ·
I was surprised and saddened this evening to hear that agreat icon Alexander Ndawula has passed on ,the best DJ and radio presenter have ever known, I grow up listening to him on Capital Radio, little did I know I would meet him a few years later, Alex was a good man and always reaching out to the unprivileged communities. Global Pathways To Success UG . He always supported people some will never know that he played a big role in transforming their lives. Alexander was a people person and never segregated or judged people, you will forever be in our hearts may our creator receive you with open arms and RIP King of the dance
Oh no.. this is really sad Alexander Ndawula
I can still see your genuine smile & hear your big guffaw of laughter ..always so infectious. You always made your presence felt when you stepped into any space. You were an inspiration and I won’t forget the words you said to me those many years ago as we worked together at Club Silk..
Alex: “One day I will marry you coz u have the cutest smile”
Me laughing: “That can never happen u can’t bully me into it, u know I ain’t scared of u”
You laughed so hard that loud laugh of yours and seriously retorted
“Don’t ever take anyone’s bullshit in this world. You are the most fearless young woman I have ever met”
You will be missed my friend. Go make the angels laugh. Forever in our hearts you will live. Rest in power big bro #ALEX
This evening an old friend passed on. To be honest I hadn’t seen him in years but he was the kind of friend you met and continued as before. In Uganda, for a younger generation he was a legend, a veteran radio personality. He rocked the airwaves for 20 years. To me he was just Alex, Maureen’s big brother. They grew up in Makerere – and I spent many weekends there, baking with Maureen. Alex had a big laugh. And he and Benedict Simwero Wandera were inseparable.
He was such a gifted artist I always thought that that would be his career. But Radio chose him – and his love for music and people shone through.
Gone too soon Alex. Wumula mirembe. Maureen may God strengthen you and Aunty and Rashida and the whole family at this time. Rest in peace Alexander Ndawula.