Bosiko Kataala is the enduring character popularized by a controversial MTN mobile money advert sometime last year. Because Bosiko in the advert wore yellow and a cap, many Ugandans nicknamed President Museveni ‘Bosiko’, a joke that did not go down well with the NRM, and changes were called for in the advert.
Eyalama Reporter caught up with Bosiko, real name Siraje Kasirye, in Kawempe Ttula, where he is just another hustler. He is also featuring in a current betting advert on TV; but besides that, his fame was short-lived. The interview is translated from Luganda.
Hi, Quick Talk!
So, this is Bosiko!
[Laughs, but strangely with frustration written all over his face] My name is Siraje Kasirye Dist.
Huh?! Dist? Where did you get that from?
Dist means ‘Devil Destroyer’ [Aaaah…like Naki for Nakimbugwe. Kyokka Bosiko.] I always pray and I’m a believer.
OK, Siraje Dist. Or should I say, Dest…
[Laughs] I was born a Muslim and I’m a practicing Muslim, but I can pray from any church.
Mmmm?! Anyway, what childhood memories do you have?
I wanted to be a celeb by all means, but even when I won accolades in music and drama, my parents did not [believe in me]. I was also stubborn; I used to jump from school to school. [He goes on to list the schools. Back to that later…]
Impressive. So, where have you been since that advert?
[Looking sad] I have been around! I have been acting in some movies but also doing adverts here and there. So far so good; life is moving, just….[but going by his looks, life has not been very kind.] I have a movie coming up soon; it’s called the Untold Story of Bosco and will premiere on July 17, at National Theatre.
Tell me about it…
[Throwing his hands in the air] The movie rotates around me; its aim is to tell the public about me in the MTN advert project…. What I found in the deal, the way I was treated and how I was left after the advert.
Eh. Are you hitting at MTN?
No! I want to show the public what artists go through when they are contracted to do adverts. The public thinks we get a lot of money but sometimes we don’t and even the way we are treated… don’t ask me more. [Sounds like you’re hitting at MTN, Bosiko. But…Okay…]
Apart from that ad that introduced you to Ugandans…
…I have been working for Super Lucky 3 [a betting/lottery company]. I have been featuring in artistes’ videos here and there…[just then, some young women he is training how to dance the Kiganda dance join us. He quickly barks at them, ordering them to leave]
Are you a comedian?
I’m a movie maker, director, producer, special visual effect maker …. I also do crafts and other things. I’m an all-round man. A hustler, in one word.
I was once a conductor and driver of a taxi.
There was a lot of speculation that you were Kenyan.
Nedda. Ndi musajja muganda ddala. Neddira butiko (I’m a true Muganda, from the mushroom clan.)
Tell me about the response to the Bosiko advert.
When people saw the add, they related it to President Museveni [there were social media memes from the advert, ridiculing the president and his drip-irrigation promotion last year. It caused a backlash from the state and MTN was reportedly asked to modify the advert.] From that time, MTN has never called me and I think that was the end. Let’s not go into politics… but the NRM people didn’t like that.
Sorry about that; and now MTN has Dismus [a Bosiko-like character for their Internet data promotion]
I see he is not a bad guy. I would use him in an advert. He is great.
What has changed since MTN?
People have overrated me. They think I have a lot of money, yet I don’t. MTN paid me but what people think I earned is not that much. They should wait for my movie; I will reveal everything as it was. [Another young woman interrupts us for a selfie, but Bosiko chases her away before she completes her sentence.]
You see? I’m a celeb. People want selfies all day; they expect much from me yet I have nothing special.
Would you encourage your kid into comedy?
Yeah! We are streamlining the industry and this first step is telling the public how we are treated, and that’s in my movie. We want both parties to be truthful.
Talking of children, how many do you have?
I have two children. I am married but my wife is abroad.
Abroad…UK, Oman, Kuwait, USA…?
She is in the Netherlands. The kids are with their grandmother [he urges Quick Talk to visit and see how they are thriving.]
What kind of dad are you?
[The children’s grandmother was once in the media claiming Bosiko does not support his children.] I’m a loving father. You the media can blow things out of proportion. I love [my children] and keep thinking about them.
It’s not surprising for me to give them Shs 500 because that is what I have. Other fathers can give Shs 500,000 because they have, but that does not mean I don’t love them.
When did you last see them?
Even today. One is five years and the other one is three years old.
Siraje, what’s your dream destination?
[Thinks] I don’t have a thought of leaving Uganda, but I have a vision of nurturing talent in arts and crafts.
Okay; so, what is your dream then?
I would want to build my own home. This business of landlords knocking on the door every month is so annoying!
ABOUT SIRAJE KASIRYE
- He was born to Assad Nganda and Harriet Namiiro of Nakifuma in Mukono district. The actor grew up around Kyebando, a Kampala suburb.
- Kasirye attended several schools including Mpererwe primary school, New Styles Kawaala and Margaret Secondary School Kikaaya.
- He later joined a technical school whose name he does not remember, where he, however, remembers he earned a certificate in Electrical Installations and later joined his father at his auto garage where he specialized in car spraying.
- He also did handcrafts training and is currently into film productions and crafts making.