How Robert Serumaga would exploit our raw material for 100 Skyfalls

Sunday December 2 2012

By Joachim Buwembo

The latest James Bond movie, Skyfall, is reputed to have made over $400 million in its first week. Good for the film makers who are still milking Agent 007 half a century after he was first created by Ian Fleming and ably acted by Sean Connery.

When I watched Skyfall in Dar es Salaam last week, I was happy nobody in the darkened cinema knew where I come from when that rogue ex agent Silva boasts that he can facilitate any operation, including rigging an election in Uganda! Let me also hope we are not going to have the type of hysterical reactions that greeted the Spanish minister’s saying that Spain is not Uganda (as if it is) or the histrionics that greeted the Kony video which set the Youtube record of 100million views in a week.

But as near real as James Bond appears, he remains a fictitious character. And real historic figures too, if well scripted, also tend to create epic movies and turn their actors into phenomenal successes. Great pictures have made out the careers of Mahatma Gandhi (Ben Kingsley), Moses (Charlton Heston), our own Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) and to a less extent, Jesus Christ (Jim Caviezel). We need to reflect on this deeply for an opportunity is staring us in the face.
Most Ugandans under the age of 40 have never heard of world beating Ugandans like Robert Serumaga. So let us tell them.

Serumaga was an economist who started writing and directing plays in the 60s. By the early 70s, his Abafumi Theatre Company was a world class phenomenon, that in a few years of acting all over the world was watched by physical audiences amounting to over a million people.

So ingenious were his productions that President Idi Amin is reported to have applauded loudly after watching a Serumaga play that was criticising his bloody regime. Serumaga later joined the anti-Amin armed struggle, became a minister in the first post-Amin government and died mysteriously in Kenya in 1980, barely 40 years old.

Today when I see fictitious movies making so much money is a short time I can only ask, ‘Where is Robert Serumaga, now that his desperate country could so use him?’

Can you just imagine what a man who had the world’s theatre at his feet could do with the real historic scripts that Uganda has since generated? After seeing the blockbuster movies some muzungu can create by writing a few exagerations about Amin and Kony’s video record, do you still have any doubts what Serumaga would have achieved with authentic productions?

Wonderful non-fiction scripts from the last two decades that Robert Serumaga would direct to make billions in invisible exports and compensate for the disappearing aid would include:

‘The Armed Crane’ depicting Uganda Airlines in its dying days used to smuggle arms from South Africa to Yugoslavia.

Another Serumaga movie ‘The Congo Briefcase’ depicts a junior army officer who disappears with a briefcase containing a million dollars meant for salaries of soldiers operating in the dense jungles of the Congo. As security agencies mount a hunt for the officer, his commander also hunts for him, for different reasons.
In ‘Flightless Birds’, some clever men make the government purchase pieces of scrap metal disguised as combat aircraft.

The plot for ‘The Invisible Dam’ involves millions of dollars paid out to a clique of clever men and women for constructing valley dams to water livestock in semi arid areas. The crooks skillfully convince the authorities that the non-existent dams actually exist.
In ‘The Chogm Games’, Shs 5 billion go missing as the Queen of England visits the country.

‘The Secret Accounts’ would feature a complicated web of thefts that empty the Office of the Prime Minister of billions of shillings.

‘The Ghost Soldiers’ would probably not sell well in Uganda as its contents are too well known to the public here. But it would amaze the world audiences as they watch the army leadership deploying hundreds of ghosts to chase after the notorious Joseph Kony, and failing to catch him.

‘The Empty Tanks’ features the national petroleum reserves in Jinja which are perpetually empty while some clever people convince government that they are always full to keep the country safe in case the supply route to the sea gets disrupted – until it actually happens.

The beauty of these great Ugandan movies is that most characters are still alive and would play their own roles in the bestsellers!