The faces that bring football matches to you on radio

Wednesday January 30 2019

Moses Tamale (in black) and Steven Birimunda

Moses Tamale (in black) and Steven Birimunda say they learnt a lot from their predecessors and still seek knowledge everyday to up their game. PHOTO BY Michael Kakumirizi 

By BRIAN MUGENYI

As they organise the studio at 3:30pm at CBS FM, ahead of broadcasting the Uganda Cranes versus Cape Verde 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole, Moses Tamale a.k.a Omwana Moze is the first to grab the headphones before instructing Steven Birimunda alias Omwana Steve to get ready for the game.

It is their lyrical style of using folktales, similes, and most of the time imitating the coaches of both teams and players that has helped them became a household name in football commentary.

“It was Birimunda who started calling me Omwana Moze while doing football commentary. When he called me so, I later picked from there and called him Omwana Steve and today, that is our celebrity name,” Shares Tamale, 28.

He recalls that because they wanted to engage the locals in their commentaries, they had to brand themselves ‘The Villagers’ to make their presentation and commentaries appealing to people starting from the villages.

When listening to their commentaries alone, it is easy for one to separate Tamale and Birimunda’s voices. The former is the main commentator while the later, chips in as a colour commentator. The pair perform their duties in a fun way as they send greetings to those following them on Facebook, Twitter and those sending them text messages.

Altogether, Tamale and Birimunda’s story of rising from grass to grace is almost the same. They all speak highly of one another.

They say one cannot work effectively and efficiently without the other and most of the time they move together even when they are off duty.

The start
“In March 2014, I joined CBS FM as a sports analyst and found Birimunda working with Geoffrey Ndugga,” shares Tamale. “I used to like Ndugga’s style of presenting. I could feel the energy and passion he had and slowly, I started falling in love with his voice,” he adds.

“It was a dream come true when I joined their desk. But while here, I started to learn from Ndugga. I would spend most of the time watching him in studio doing the commentary and regularly I would seek knowledge from him,” adds Tamale.

In September, 2014, when Ndugga officially left CBS FM, it was a blessing in disguise for Tamale. He was not happy that the latter had left but he saw an opportunity to take over.

“Ndugga was a big brand and doing what he used to do seemed like a big task for me but with time, I have been able to do it,” says Tamale.

In order to create a concept that somewhat did not sound like that of Ndugga and Birimunda back then, Tamale says in 2016, they decided to come up with their own style.

“I listen to other radio stations and how their commentators do the job. From them, I try to figure out what they are not doing right and together with my partner we improve how we do our work,” says Tamale who started as a sports analyst at Radio Buddu in Masaka in 2010 during his Senior Six vacation.

Hard work
With the help of the late Mulindwa Muwonge, a former journalist, Tamale was able to join UBC TV as a sports presenter and analyst. While there, he joined Star FM where he worked shortly with Phiona ‘Fifi’ Namiiro before joining his current employers CBS FM in 2014.

Tamale says he has managed to succeed in his job because of research and seeking guidance from Robert Kasozi and Kawoya Mwebe, the human resource manager, and managing director of CBS FM respectively. He normally wakes up at midnight and uses his phone research about sports related news and visits websites such as Daily Mail. He is also a regular follower of and listens to international football commentators such as Sky Sport’s Peter Drury, Martin Tyler and Alan Green.

“They have their own way of doing commentaries. I like their way of selecting words, and similes to use when commentating. They really entertain everyone, especially at the climax of the game. The way they illustrate the game, the mood of players and imagining how the fans feels, especially when their teams are losing made is really to be admired,” he explains.

Education
Tamale was born in December 1990 to Mrs Jane Nakabiito and the late James Kiggundu of Kidda village in Masaka District although he spent much of his childhood with his grandmother Hajjat Nalongo Kabiito. He studied at Hill Road Public school, Masaka SS, Kasawo SS and City View High School before attaining a Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication at YMCA Institute, Kampala.

Just like Tamale, Birimunda’s love for sports also started at a young age. He is an ardent fan of Europe’s Blackburn Rovers and Wandegeya Football Club in Uganda. Birimunda shares that sports is part of his DNA and when he joined CBS in 2008, he started envisioning himself as football commentator.

“Sport was always going to be my calling. I tried my hand at news reporting but sports eventually won my heart,” shares Birimunda who worked with Uganda Radio Network (URN) as a news reporter in 2007.

Birimunda, studied at Kitante Primary School, Makerere University Primary School and later pursued a Diploma in Education at Kyambogo University and graduated in 2004. In 2007, he graduated with a Diploma in Journalism at International Institute of Business and Media Studies, Kampala. “As a beginner at CBS FM, I started off by doing football commentary with our boss David Lumansi. Later, I discovered my football commentary abilities, especially when I started working with Geoffrey Ndugga,” recounts Birimunda.

He was born in March 1987 to Teopista Nantumbwe and the late Matthias Kalongo of Nabweru, Kampala although he grew up with his foster father Geoffrey Katumba. He says before each game, they prepare in time, research both teams, key players and try their best to bring out the theatrical way of commentating to listeners.

“People watch football with different reasons. Many do it to support their teams while others just want to release stress. We must cater for both in our commentary,” Birimunda adds.

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