What you need to know:
- Mizigo Express, which takes its name from the Luganda noun of the houses—emizigo—portrays what goes on between the landlord Kabogozza, aka KK (played by Dickson Zizinga), his wife Damalie (Nina Katamba) and the ridiculous lives of his tenants.
For nearly four years, actors from Fun Factory Uganda have presented a popular comedy television mini-series that dramatises the lifestyle of those who live in rental one-roomed low cost tenements.
Mizigo Express, which takes its name from the Luganda noun of the houses—emizigo—portrays what goes on between the landlord Kabogozza, aka KK (played by Dickson Zizinga), his wife Damalie (Nina Katamba) and the ridiculous lives of his tenants.
Sam Mugisha (Hannington Bugingo), who becomes KK’s sidekick, figures quite prominently.
The comedy show depicts a range of contrasts from stature to relationships. These leave KK with his hands full.
Acted in English and Luganda, the series revolves around themes such as love, marriage, infidelity, jealousy, financial insecurity, the stress of unemployment on married couples, backstabbing, blackmail, rumours, gossip, and conflict.
KK is portrayed as a braggart landlord and womaniser, who is involved in extra-marital affairs with Mulokole (Evelyn Kemizinga) and Brown (Veronica Namanda). Sam, who has lived at KK’s mizigo the longest, has also had his rounds with the young single women in the congested compound.
When Damalie confronts KK over having an extra-marital affair with a new beautiful young female tenant called Judith (Asaba Ahebwa), he is quick to deny. Unconvinced, Damalie ends up sleeping in a separate bedroom. As fate would have it, it turns out that KK is innocent on this occasion.
This is but one of the many relationship themes explored by the TV production.
There is also Sam’s relationship with Akello (Akite Agnes) that has its ebbs and flows not least because they live with the latter’s brother, Opio (Symon Base Kalema). Shameless with an ‘I-don’t-care’ attitude, Opio is never remorseful for his misdeeds.
The 16-year childless marriage of Kikompola (Raymond Rushabiro) and Mulokole also gets extensive coverage as does her character—a born-again Christian and stay-home wife who eavesdrops and rumour-mongers to a fault.
Equally gripping is the marriage of Mafabi (Richard Tuwangye) and Brown (Veronica Namanda). Mafabi is the caretaker of KK’s rentals.
When Brown’s mother pays her daughter a visit, a chain of events is set off after Mulokole declares that a mother-in-law cannot share the same room with her son-in-law.
The TV production has so many rib-cracking storylines. Take when Opio sleeps under Sam and Akello’s bed, but ends up wetting his beddings. All hell breaks loose.
The recurring theme of Akello being embarrassed by her brother doesn’t—as most kinds of repetition do—breed contempt.
The other comedians in Mizigo Express are Gordon (Gerald Rutaro), Gordon’s wife (Tindi Mustapha), Anna (Anne Kansiime), Kalevu (Isaac Kuddzu), Gloria Kebirungi (as Kalevu’s fiancée), and Epenu (Destinee Mutasa), among others.
Fun Factory Uganda is a Ugandan entertainment company based in Kampala. It was founded in 2010 with its flagship product as sketch comedy. It also has branched into TV shows and event management.
It has a 17-strong cast, nine of whom trained from Makerere University School of Liberal and Performing Arts. Their products include Comedicine, U-Turn, Mizigo Express and Popi.
“We create original content based on the surroundings and the things we see around ourselves,” Bugingo told Sunday Monitor, adding of Mizigo, “Like 80 percent of Ugandans have lived in such an environment… or if they have not, they have a relative who has lived there, or they have experienced something there. So we reflect what society does.”
Bugingo says they used Zizinga’s acting abilities to depict landlord KK as “a Ugandan man who has made his money … retired early at the age of 50 … built his houses that he will depend on in his old age.”
According to Bugingo, the group’s creative department that develops the scripts for the series is led by Zizinga and deputised by Namanda.
“We have a core team of seven people, who meet on Fridays and Mondays to brainstorm and come up with the stories. Every one of us is tasked to look around themselves, where they hang out, in their homes, and relatives. Is there a story that relates that can be brought to fit in the Mizigo set up? We, at least, have a sketch written down before we go on set to shoot it.”
Writing the scripts is probably more straightforward than it was selecting the title of the TV series. Bugingo said they explored “very many names and mizigo was always going through.”
He adds that the express in the title “is what we thought could inspire because when you live in the mizigo set up, everything is fast paced.”
Bugingo believes the show resonates with many Ugandans who live or have lived in tenements.
“Mizigo Express cuts across almost all Ugandans from all walks of lives. The former Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, is the most high profile fan of the series,” he revealed, adding, “During the second Covid-19 lockdown, Ms Kadaga invited the entire Fun Factory Uganda to her residence to meet us. She watched the show in the lockdown and became a dedicated fan. So, there are quite a lot of fans of the show.”
Bugingo says the star-studded cast has been “overwhelmed” by the reception of their TV production.
“Everywhere we go, we find people who know Mizigo Express and will mention the characters in the show,” he said, adding, “The only limitation is that it is on a pay television platform, and that is why some people who do not subscribe to DStv and GOtv miss out.”
Rinaldi Jamugisa, the communications manager at MultiChoice Uganda, says the TV production is critically acclaimed.
“The show’s humour, relatable characters and engaging storyline have been a viewer’s favourite,” Jamugisa tells Sunday Monitor, adding, “Overall, viewers are more than happy to catch local comedy that resonates with them and their everyday lives, giving them laughter and happiness.”
The comments on social networks speak for themselves.
“Opio, KK, Mulokole, Sam are absolutely refreshing local content. Mehn this show is a gem,” Lawrence Lxg wrote on the microblogging site, Twitter.
Elsewhere, Giftalba Kasule wrote, “The best local content on TV…introduced it to my man this year now he’s hooked…Damali, KK, Mulokole, Sam and the wife…pure entertainment.”
Asked what makes the series popular, Jamugisa replied: “The show’s humour and relatable characters make it entertaining and engaging to watch. Secondly, the show tackles common issues faced by people in everyday life, such as relationship problems, financial struggles, job insecurity, “lugambo” (gossip), misunderstandings, communications gaps, anxiety, excitement, spirit of community, among many other things, which resonate with many viewers.”
Jamugisa added: “The show’s unique setting, in a residential environment popularly known as mizigo, provides a familiar yet creative perspective and delivers a sense of community among the characters. The actors from Fun Factory are a much-loved group, which has proved that comedy is here to stay.”
As to how Mizigo Express ranks among the other series on DStv and GOtv, Jamugisa revealed: “The show has gained a significant following and is one of the most popular shows in our local offering. Ugandans have embraced local content and it is evident in the number of people who tune in to watch during the show times.”
About Fun Factory Uganda
Fun Factory Uganda is a Ugandan entertainment company based in Kampala. It was founded in 2010 with its flagship product as sketch comedy.
It also has branched into TV shows and event management. It has a 17-strong cast, nine of whom trained from Makerere University School of Liberal and Performing Arts. Their products include Comedicine, U-Turn, Mizigo Express and Popi.
With nearly 600 episodes under its belt, Mizigo Express airs on Pearl Magic: Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday at 7.30pm (DStv Ch161 and GOtv Ch301); and on Pearl Magic Prime: Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday at 9pm (DStv Ch148 and GOtv Ch303).
Mizigo Express premiered in October 2018, and was filmed at the same location in Kampala.