Thursday February 25 2016

Matters of mending the heart

Ssenga Justine Nantume and Prossy Patra of

Ssenga Justine Nantume and Prossy Patra of Dembe Radio are some of Uganda’s finest love doctors. 

By Edgar Batte, Scovia Atuhaire and Julius Ocungi

Prossy Patra - Dembe Radio

When Prossy Patra Namirimu needed a job, her wish was to get a chance on air. Her brother, Ragga Dee and friend, Messe Bontwe, suggested to her to try Dembe FM which Karim Hirji had just opened. She went to the radio station and benched for a job. The first option was for her to produce a children’s programme.

“I recall Peter Kabba, the station’s programme’s manager at the time, testing my patience. He wanted to be sure that I could deal with children. I was patient and passed his test. The children that hosted the kids programme were Karim’s children. I produced their show and Kabba was impressed,” she recounts. But this was not her dream. She wanted to go on air and present a show. Her opportunity came up when Sylvia Kalibatanya went on annual leave and Alex Mukulu, who was consultant for Dembe FM, asked Patra to stand in for the celebrated radio presenter.

She was not confident in her ability but Mukulu insisted that she goes on air. She went into studio prior to the show and Bina Baibie, another day-time presenter gave her some quick mentoring. She gained some confidence. When she went on air, there were loyal fans to Kalibatanya that kept calling in and sizing her up.

“I stood in strong and did my best. I knew I could not be as good as Kalibatanya so I tried to start by creating my own identity. Slowly but surely people started appreciating my style. When Kalibatanya was approached by Super FM to take on a slot at their station, I had to take on her programme,” she recounts. 10 years on, she does the love show on Dembe FM dubbed Eki laavu Laavu, a programme that mends hearts. Through her experience, she listens to relationship experiences and challenges alike.

“I have saved marriages from crumbling, helped lovers reconcile and been approached by men who think I am their dream lady. I find ways of dealing with all this. Whenever I have saved relationships, people have expressed their joy and invited me to their reunions, introduction ceremonies and weddings,” Patra discloses. For the listeners who wish to make a move on her, she says she explains to them that she has been in a committed relationship for the last decade or so.

Felix Ochola - Radio Rupiny

Any late night radio listener in northern Uganda has heard the soothing voice of one of the best romantic presenters in the region, Pastor Felix Ochola.
Born Felix Ochola Okun 34 years ago in Gulu District, the Confession Show host on Radio Rupiny 95.7, is the talk of the town owing to his presentation on intimate affairs.
Mr Ochola’s love for intimate affairs started way back during his high school days at Koch Goma SS at in Nwoya and Sir Samuel Baker SS in Gulu where he used to coach his fellow students on how to write love letters.
“I recall in high school, fellow students would approach me to spice some grammar in their love letters. And whenever they sent the letters to their girlfriends, they would always get praised. That’s how I also got a name of the Love Doctor,” Mr Ochola said.

Because of that, his dreams grew into what he is today.
Luck struck in 2004 when he applied for a job at then Radio Four station in Gulu District. He got the job as a news anchor, a position he says he didn’t enjoy.
“I convinced my manager to let me try the late night presentation; he was hesitant at first but later gave me the opportunity. After weeks of presenting, the show was the best and our listenership grew up at night something that also grew my career,” he said.

Since then, Mr Ochola has worked at numerous radio stations like Kiti Fm in Kitgum District in 2005, Radio King in 2007 and Speak Fm.
He was a winner of the Best Intimate presenter in a competition organised by the Uganda Health Marketing Group in 2009 in Kampala.
Mr Ochola is a professional teacher and a counsellor.

Ssenga Justine Nantume - Dembe Radio

The traditional set-up of society has accommodated ssengas, the aunties who traditionally advise young ladies on how they should handle their relational and sexual issues when they get into relationships.
Ssenga Justine Nantume offers advice on relationship issues, something she says she does diligently. The presenter on Dembe FM explains that her mother set her off on doing this, as early as nine years. She used to hear her mother advise young women in Luwero, her home district.

“My mother was a traditional ssenga and young ladies and old ones alike would come home, some to seek advice and training on what to do to make relationships work or to go through cultural practices,” she recounts.
She adds that it is how she learnt much of what she knows. Today, she advises couples who are preparing for committed relationships. She offers relational and sexual advice. Nantume observes that many young people go into commitment without strong reasons but simple reasons like physical attraction which explains the break-ups.
“A young man will look at a lady and fall for her good looks or nice physical features. When he has explored her physical beauty, he finds no reason to keep her in his life and yearns to move to the next person. I always advise such people to take their time. The stronger attraction should be for the inner beauty. It is good to date and appreciate what lies beyond the physical beauty,” Nantume observes.

She also spells out that young ladies are largely driven into relationship for material things which undermine the relevance of love in relationships today. She observes that there are two types of love; new and old love.
“When a couple has recently met, the expectations are high which is not the case when they have lived together for some time. What should matter though is that couples get to know each other through honest dating and being open to each other about almost everything,” Ssenga Nantume explains.
She lashes out to emancipated, corporate ladies who think they can size up to men yet traditionally women should appreciate that a man is a superior gender.

She also decries the role smart phones have played in creating tension and disintegration in relationships since either party will be kept busy by extra relationships and breaking communication lines between couples.
Nantume cautions that it is worthless for partners to compete against each other. Rather, she advises that channels of communication are opened to allow lovers understand one another.

Chris Mwesige - Voice of Toro

Chris Mwesige hosts Love Magazine programme at Voice of Toro in Fort Portal town. The show, one of the most popular in town runs from Monday to Thursday from 10pm to 1am.
Popularly known as Chris 17, Mwesige uses the Love Magazine to address relationship issues. He offers tips on how to make the relationship last longer and what normally breaks relationships.
On Monday, he tackles general issues that target all age groups. During the programme, he reads letters from his fans. Listeners are then urged to react with solutions or advice.
On Tuesday, he talks to bachelors while ladies get their turn during Wednesday’s Ladies Night Special. Here, both sexes are advised on what they should do find love or make their relationships stronger.
On Thursday, Chris 17 talks to couple on Couples Night. The content is always based on how to keep marriage longer and talk about issues that bring divorce and violence.

Val Okecho - Capital FM

For a while, Val Okecho was an ardent listener of local FM radio. He had his eyes and precisely his ears on FM radio. Like that, he envisioned a career as a radio presenter.
In his Senior Four (S.4), he took his application letter to Capital FM and FMJ, which was owned by Pastor Jackson Senyonga and Christian Life Church. It has since become Kampala FM.
It is at Kampala Fm that is where he met and was trained by Alex Jakana for about three months in basics of radio broadcasting, programming, handling calls, articulation, voice control and also orientation on work environment at Kampala FM.

“So in my S4 vac, I walked up to the programmes director (PD) at Capital FM and asked for a job. I was told that I had the voice and talent but I needed to complete school first. Capital Radio turned me away,” Okecho recalls.
During his S.6 ‘vac’, he tried to join Monitor FM with no success. Kampala FM gave him a chance. He presented a late night show called “The Lovelines”. He did this throughout his university at Makerere where he read social sciences during the day.

While on radio, he took on the additional role of voicing adverts and was nurtured by Steve Jean of Fenon Records. In December 2003, Sanyu FM had an available slot for a presenter. Marcus Kwikiriza, who presented ‘Now and Then’ with Belinda Namutebi, and the ‘Love Zone’ had just left and he jumped at the opportunity.
Towards 2013, he was given a call. Jimmy Jones, presenter of the popular the ‘Late Date’ had left the country and Okecho was approached to fill the slot which he willingly took up.

The show continues to attract listenership for relationship advice, solving relationship problems and hooking up singles.
“It is highly interactive, and educational or informative too, and that’s what makes it popular. It takes an interesting turn when guys or gals call in to try and trick their ‘partners’ into revealing the names of their actual partners,” Okecho explains.

Over the four years, he has successfully hooked up some couples on the show. He receives wedding invitations from people he has hooked up which is a deeply satisfying experience for him.
He says he has had many personal experiences. He reads quite a lot, and listens too, from friends. His outstanding one has been reuniting a couple; childhood friends of his who had broken up, and are now they are married. He is married too, with children.