I was bundled up and deported - Bush Baby

Saturday December 14 2019

Michael Benjamin Owor

Michael Benjamin Owor 

By Nicolas Akasula

What are your childhood memories?
I grew up in about 15 homes. When my mother died, my maternal and paternal families fought for my custody. I became a loner and protective of myself, and my little sister. I do not believe in very big things, and if you have read 7 habits of highly effective people, you will look at life in a new lens.
How did you join the entertainment industry?
When I was in A-Level, I started presenting a show on radio. I did television much later. One day, I took a bus to Tanzania when I was only 21. A friend who currently works with BBC Swahili Service, tipped me, while I was interning at Radio Uganda. On a random Sunday, I sent my demo tape, and after a month, I received news that they loved my voice. The rest is history.
How was it like working in Tanzania?
Upon arrival, I thought I was hired to present the morning show. My boss, however, asked me to do programming for the entire station. I could not believe it. I told him the station lacked English speakers. He asked me to handle as a leader. I called 18 friends from Uganda and we created the first broadcasting English radio station in Tanzania, which still exists.
One evening , I got a call from the proprietor IPA Media (the biggest Media house in East Africa that owns 11 newspapers, 10 radios, and 5 TV’s). He wanted to hire me to work in one of his Radio stations. He drafted the contract asked me to mention the amount of money I wanted. I was confused. Subsequently, I resigned at Mwanza, but my former boss sued my new employer for poaching his talent. I was in a dilemma. The former was a billionaire’s son, whilst the latter a minister. One morning, unknown men came to my hotel room, bundled me up and deported me. I found myself at Entebbe airport. Days later, I moved back to Dar el Salaam and fortunately, I was back on air.
Did you ever hustle?
Back in Uganda, nobody wanted to hire me because they thought I was expensive. One day, as I trekked down Garden City, in Kampala, I met Bill Tibingana, a communications consultant. He expressed interest in hiring me and that is how I started out as a Dj in Uganda. I was deejaying a weekend show for a radio station and I was earning Shs Shs200,000. Many times, I would run out of fuel and airtime.
When was your breakthrough?
When I left Sahara Communications to join EATV, I was just excited about being part of a regional broadcasting powerhouse. I did not know the impact that I was creating in the region. I was entitled to three flights back home, every year. I used to come and play at Steak Out in Wandegeya for a show called Utake Night. And this created a footprint in my career.
What are you working on?
I was running a production company that created a show called XXL, which used to air on television. However, there are a few setbacks and it is currently on halt. I am planning to review it in future.
I am the head of creative content at Next Media Services, where I lead the team that generates unique content for all the companies media products.

What do you advise youth pursuing a career in the broadcast industry to do?
Self-awareness is key at an early age. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would retire at 25, play golf at 25, and my money would work for me at 25. But this is only possible if you discover your purpose in life at an early age.
What lessons has a broadcast job taught you through the years?
I have come to appreciate broadcast as a powerful platform that has a great impact on society.
What challenges have you faced in this industry?
Advancement in technology, where you have to unlearn certain things to keep up with new trends. Being a common face, you also lose privacy, which comes at a cost.
What do you enjoy about fatherhood?
It teaches responsibility and accountability. It is annoying and exciting at the same time. Every decision you make, is not about you anymore, but about the entire family. Children remotely control our thoughts, personality and actions.
If you were not a DJ, what would you be?
I would be a gardener. I love plants and nature.
Are you married?
Yes I am married to someone very beautiful, whom I met 7 years ago on the very last flights of Air Uganda. And we have a son together.
What do you like most about your wife?
First of all, she met a man who had a lot of challenges, but she put up with him, anyway. We are friends and were before. We have have had our ups and downs and we are continuously learning about marriage, how to manage finances together and raising children. She is also very supportive and loves her privacy. We complement each other.

Celebrities hardly sustain marriages. How are you making it work?
That is more of a Western or Hollywood lifestyle. Here in Africa, our culture is different from those we watch in movies, series and soap operas. I know many celebrities in Africa who are married and have sustained marriages for some good years. But communication and trust are key in any marriage.

Tit bits
He is currently the head of creative content at Next Media.
He’s big on 90’s R&B and Hip Hop
He’d like to join the army in his next life

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