CEO Bwaguga. When you first meet Arthur Kayima, he wears a simple guy demeanor, far from the loud mouth who has gained fame shooting funny videos from the confines of his small room in Saudi Arabia. The famous TikToker has garnered as many foes as fans and now he boasts of a huge following – huger than he ever imagined as he shares with Isaac Ssejjombwe.
How would you describe Arthur Kayima?
I am a hustler and go getter mostly known for my social media presence. I am a stress killer and I make people happy.
Some people think your videos are personal. Are they?
I have never done anything for personal attacks. What I say affects or is a reflection of so many people so they mistake it to be an attack on them but it is never about them.
When did you start recording skits for social media and what inspired you?
It was during the Covid-19 lockdown when I noticed that people were really depressed because of the lockdown, including myself and the only place I found solace was on my phone so that is how this all started; in 2021.
How have you benefitted from your social media skits?
It was and still is not about money for me. I do this because I love doing it. I started this whole thing after a heartbreak that made me feel worthless, so this whole thing helped me rebuild myself.
What can someone out there do to earn out of social media?
I would tell anyone out there interested in social media that there is no money and if you make a name on social media and think you will make money, that will be your downfall. People will just use you. The biggest thing for me is to make friends, lots and lots of friends.
Many know you from your skits but what else do you do?
I am a professional waiter in Saudi Arabia at a group of fine dining restaurants called Leila T group of companies’ restaurants. They have Japanese, Chinese, French and different multi-cultural restaurants but I specifically work in the Chinese restaurant where I handle the VVIP section.
How do you balance your job and social media?
I do not give social media much time but when it is time for it, I give it my all.
Of all your skits, which one stands out?
I actually have two; the economy skit and one that has 1.2 million views so far. It is about my handsomeness. It is my favourite because I just woke up one morning and shot it without putting so much thought into it.
How do you deal with negative energy?
The first thing I do to negative energy is block you because my pages are very sensitive but when I go to my comments section, I usually concentrate on the positives rather than the negative feedback.
What challenges have you faced as a social media celebrity?
People who pretend to know me but in actual sense have never met me or interfaced me in any way and this usually comes from fans and followers.
What is the best thing about being a viral celebrity?
It feels good because I have always wanted to be popular but the most important thing is that you impact a lot of lives, people will always bail you out in case of anything.
Tell me about your family and school background?
I lost my mother three years ago but my father is called Mr Francis Kayemba Ssalongo. I, however, grew up with my grandparents who owned a school in Makindye called Aunt Allen Infant School, which I attended, then I went to Lubiri Nabagereka Primary School, Malcom X Academy for my O level then Uganda Martyrs High School Rubaga. I then joined Kyambogo University for a course in Industrial Art and Design but later dropped out.
Why didn’t you complete the course?
I was so stubborn and gave up on school because the course became so hard for me. I used to frequent bars and concentrated less on school.
Tell us about your journey to Dubai.
After life teaching me a lesson in Kampala, I decided to go for greener pastures. I knew no one over there but I took the risk and travelled alone. When I arrived in Dubai, I had only 20 dirham left on me, which is equivalent to Shs18,000. I had spent all my money paying for everything on the plane; I bought a hot chocolate which was going for 15 dirham but I reached safely and started hustling with life.
Where did you get the money for the air ticket and Visa?
I solicited for money from friends and used to hustle here and there. The reason I went broke is because my Visa came after four months, yet I had expected it out in a week’s time.
We heard you had tried your luck at singing. What happened to that career?
I was a singer with just one song and if it was not for the discouragement from people, maybe my music career would be far now. I gave up the moment I took my CD somewhere and overheard people saying I sounded like a sheep.
Because it was my first time and I was young, the criticism hit differently, so I gave up.
Where do you derive the inspiration for your skits?
First of all I am a natural and I look at daily things that are affecting people in their everyday lives.
What is the toughest thing about creating content?
Rolling the camera over and over; it is tiresome.
Are you a one man army?
I have a management of two people; Priscilla Kalibala who is in Washington DC and Leyton Namubiru who is in England. They are the ones that pushed me to start doing skits on TikTok.
What have you achieved from being a social media celebrity?
I have got endorsement deals and sometimes I also influence for events but not so much. I do not want to take that route so much because my page will lose value if it has different events or products.
How do you protect yourself as a content creator?
My management handles most of my issues. They make decisions that will always protect me.
What does ‘Bwaguga’ mean?
Bwaguga is a Luganda word that means something huge and it is my official catchphrase. I identify as the CEO of that word.
We have heard stories of people suffering in Saudi Arabia. As an influential person in your right, have you done anything to help Ugandans living there?
Yes, life has been so difficult especially for girls and people concerned should do something about this. Personally, I like doing my things on quietly but I am so glad I managed to help four girls to return to Uganda using my connections.
Having been in Saudi Arabia for long, why do you think Ugandans are treated like that?
It all starts with companies that take those girls to Saudi Arabia. They never follow up. They are all after money.
Are you planning on settling back in Uganda anytime soon?
Not yet. I am still chasing the paper so I will only becoming to Uganda as a visitor.
What do you think about the social media industry?
If people use it for the right reasons, then it will improve but when they misuse it, we shall all lose out because when I returned to Uganda I needed VPN to access Facebook so Imagine if we misused other platforms, say to insult people or spread fake news, then it could get worse.
There is a belief that in order to go viral, you need negativity. What do you have to say about this?
That is a wrong mentality. The fame will not last. You can be viral without abusing or tarnishing someone’s image.
How did your family perceive you after watching these skits?
We do not even talk about it. Some had issues in the beginning but realised this is my life and now they are proud of me.
What was your first skit and how many people saw it?
It was about Covid-19. So many people lost their lives due to Covid-19 in Saudi Arabia but back in Uganda people were literally being chased out of bars and gatherings so I made a video expressing my disappointment and cautioning people to be extra careful and stay indoors. It was a simple video for my closed audience but it went viral.
How do you deal with female stalkers?
I distance myself from them.
Have you dated someone online?
Yes I have. I have dated three people online but those relationships ended before I even met those people.
And are you seeing anyone right now?
I am single but I have a child, an eight-year-old son.
What are the qualities for your ideal woman?
You have to be independent, rich and honest. I do not know whether it is a problem but I have too much love to offer – I fall deep.
How many relationships have you been in?
I lost my virginity when I was 20 years old but I have been in four serious relationships.
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