Sunday September 3 2017

Living by the microphone

Moses Karugaba, 37, is a popular emcee at

Moses Karugaba, 37, is a popular emcee at weddings and corporate functions. PHOTO BY GODFREY LUGAAJU 


How would you describe yourself?
I’m a person who wants to leave a mark on everything I touch. I am either the best or the worst. I love being around people, take no prisoners and never regret anything I have done.

What fascinates you about your job?
I love chatting and I’m always happy to see people smiling. By the time a person is willing to entrust you with their entire event, they have a love for you, and so I’m captivated by the fact that this person actually loves me and wishes me well.

How do you keep yourself creative?
I go to bars every day. I’m fascinated by the number of creative geniuses out there. I keep active on social media to keep abreast of the jokes that keep flying from left to right.

What can you say enabled you to make progress in your career?
Friends, friends, and friends! I would not have gone far without my friends. At all functions where I have emceed, I have made friends. I also think the quality of the delivery sells you. When I am given an event, I focus on the next. I make sure that every person at that event will look for me again.
I also learnt to do an audience analysis. I am eloquent in English, Luganda, and Runyakitara. I speak Kiswahili, some Lusoga, Ateso, Ngakarimojong, Lugbara, Acholi/Langi, French and German. I apply these to the various audiences.

What is a let-down in this trade?
The biggest let-down is that people take emceeing as a footnote and yet it can make or break the event. Imagine an artiste will come and mime songs for 10 minutes and he is paid Shs5m. I will be at the function from start to finish and someone wants to give you only Shs1 m.

What does it take to be a good emcee?
You need patience; respect for your clients and to know that the function is not ‘your father’s’. You must know that you have been lucky to get that job and thus, you need to focus on the main reason as to why you have been brought to the microphone. Important to note is that you need 99 per cent luck, because you are on a live feed and you have no room for corrections.

Tell me of any functions where you have officiated?
I have done national World AIDS Day celebrations, National Elimination of Mother-to-Child transmission launch in Kololo and I have worked with Ministry of Health at their national events. USAID and CDC projects also continue to provide me with opportunities to emcee at their events. I have done weddings almost every weekend of the year.

What kind of event are you more flexible doing?
Some people say I have a multiple personality disorder because you will find me break dancing like Koffi Olomide at the weekend at some party in Bukinda, and on Monday, find me at a national event with top government and international leaders such as Koffi Anan. I’m like Koffi. You can choose which Koffi you want and when. I can be Olomide or Anan.

What are the highs and lows in this trade?
The highs are that you are exposed to the high and mighty. You are friends at the event; the greatest of buddies and can even take selfies. I have built an arsenal of connections that there is no office I walk into and I’m not known. The challenge comes with meeting many people who genuinely think you know each other yet you have no clue who they are.

Do women make good emcees?
There are not many female emcees. I have emceed with Anne Kansiime before she advanced to the big stage. I have emceed with Karitas Karisimbi and she is now a nalongo. I have also emceed with the current Minister of Health Dr Jane Aceng and now you see where she is. Women bring in some flavour. I believe they can make good emcees and indeed they have.

How do you rate yourself as a communicator?
Communication depends on what you want to put across. I’m not perfect but I know that people are willing to pay me to communicate at their events. You tell me, how do you rate that?

What makes men fail to communicate about their emotions?
It is a sign of weakness. But many men have also learnt that your emotions are not as important as you want people to believe them. So they mostly go and drown their sorrows in a warm or cold drink.

Why do men say they cannot understand women?
My brother, even women do not understand each other. The person who cracks this will rule the universe. Women are like a nuclear bomb. It is good to have one but do not be around when it goes off.

What habits do you frown upon?
I frown upon people who are not clear on issues. I hate people who cannot say something to your face. I have made it a habit that if I cannot tell you something to your face; I cannot say it when you are not there.

Are you married, do you have children?
I’m married to five women; one is my wife, the other two are my daughters and the last ones are my two mothers.

Away from the emceeing, what kind of person are you?
I believe in people. I believe that we are all special in one way or the other. I give people the benefit of doubt. If you can make it in Africa, you can make it anywhere. I love seeing people happy and do not care much about people’s opinions because they are like onions; they make you cry if you follow them.

Tell me about your background
I was born and raised in Bukinda, Kabale now Rukiga; went to Nakasero Primary School, the mighty Kigezi High School for O and A-Level, Makerere University where I was the guild representative for Livingstone Hall and minister for University Affairs. I graduated with a first class honours degree in Communication and Management. I did a postgraduate diploma in Marketing Management from the Uganda Management Institute. I’m currently studying law at Makerere University.

When and how did you start emceeing?
When I joined campus, I attended a graduation party and they did not have someone to invite the priest to bless the graduand and the food. I asked for the microphone, not sure what to say. Next, I saw people gaping at me. I did not know I had nailed it until I saw them clapping. From then on, I emceed at graduation parties, during university days, birthday parties and baptisms. Then one day, my cousin Sukie Bamuhigire wanted an emcee for her kuhingira and I was proposed. Since then, I have never looked back.