I am ugly and proud of it
Posted Sunday, February 24 2013 at 02:00
Yokana Mbuuse . A chanced encounter with a taxi driver leads Mbuuse aka Kapera on the path to making a fortune on stage as a comedian who takes pride in his appearance.
He is proud to be “ugly” because this is a God –given uniqueness that has earned him a name, won him hearts of fans and will most likely earn him his first trip outside Uganda.
Yokana Mbuuse, who is popularly known by his stage name, Kapere, says he will not try to enhance his appearance.
“I am ugly and proud to be so, I am not sure I would have the fame, friends and have a decent life like I do today,” he says. Kapere is a popular actor with stand-up comedy outfit, Amarula Family which also comprises Allan Mujuni whose stage name is Amooti, and Nicholas Mpiirwe alias Messe Bontwe.
In colloquial Luganda, if someone refers to you as Kapere, they mean you are either funny or phony. Mbuuse is funny. He stands at averagely five feet and three inches.
He has had to do away with his Mohawk hairstyle because he is slowly developing a bald head.
A career on stage
He likes to joke with people because at almost every turn, people either giggle or point at him, telling one of the jokes he has recently told or acted out from his weekly comedy shows or the televised skits with Amarula Family.
He says comedy is not a big fete. Many times, all it takes for him is appearing on stage, smile or point at the audience and the fans will start cheering him on. He will then be tickled and go on to dance or simply walk with “a bit of style or swag”. Asked why audiences would break into laughter and cheer him even before he says a thing, he says this attests to a fact that he is adored as a comedian as well as his body features like a big head, heavy lips and the fact that he is simply “cool”.
“The ladies will come to me and ask me, ‘Kapere please smile for us’ and just that makes their day,” he tells me before getting interrupted by a couple who tap his shoulder to say a quick ‘hello’.
“You see” he says to me to confirm his earlier statement. He then turns to one of the ladies in a restaurant who he compliments, attracting a smile from her before she throws jibes at him for being ‘selulungi wa Kampala’(Kampala’s most handsome man). “0kimanyi” he replies before he bounces with pride, throwing his two front fingers in the air.
His comic nature has transcended the stage, seeing him take part in music videos as well, most popular being Bobi Wine’s music video, Mr. Money. In this music video, Kapere plays the role of a hajji who is wealthy and out to prove that money can actually buy him love.
In a cap and white robe, he flaunts car keys and a land title which he says he is ready to give ‘Cate’ ,if she is ready to love him unconditionally and become his ‘younger wife’.
I ask Dennis Kawalya of Centrix Films why he chose Kapere to play this role in the music video. “Well, I needed a special character and Kapere beat all the others. I needed to pull off the element of how the love for money has blindfolded people to the extent of selling off their daughters irrespective of who is taking her or where she is going,” the videographer explains. He adds that Kapere fitted the role because he had the “extreme looks” that he was looking for.
In the eyes of others
“He is also a good actor who has learned to put his disabilities positively unlike his colleagues who tend to lose their complex. Kapere tries very hard to listen to instructions. In general, he had what I was looking for,” he further explains.
Amooti describes Kapere as a natural. “When we are rehearsing, many times you do not have to read a script for Kapere. I do it once and the next time you are acting out a skit, he is already having suggestions on how better we could bring it out,” he explains.
He adds though that when Kapere had just joined Amarula, he was a reserved person who hardly said a word, but only kept smiling. But with time, he was able to become free, make friends and hold conversations as he became more social.
A painful past
But it was more than just him being reserved as he explains about a pain he had to deal with. He had hernia, a condition that led him to drop out of school out of fear of it worsening as he played with friends. “Hernia started spreading and it got to my penis. I was weak and could not fight off peers who teased me. I feared I would die, so I remained home for my safety,” he says.
When he would not play with peers he had to fend for himself so he went looking for menial tasks at building sites, which would earn him a wage. It is at these sites that he met one, Bashir, who became a friend.
He opened up to him about his condition and Bashir promised to take him to a local vernacular newspaper for help. “They took my photograph, but published it with a hidden identity. After two weeks, no one had come out to help. Bashir had a brother called Yusuf who had a friend who was a reporter at the sister English newspaper. He photographed me naked and published the story,” he recalls.