June 2010

Day June 27, 2010

World Cup fever returns to Kampala – the hot struggle for viewres/listeners

Summary: After the failure of 5 African teams to advance beyond the group stages in the on-going World Cup in South Africa, FM radio ‘listenership’ (and therefore their advertising revenues) and ‘video hall'[ebibaanda bya firimu] attendance {in the peri-urban settlements, also known as ‘slums’}, had diminished. The tricks to win back the customers are fun itself are in full play, once again.
Read on and enjoy the fun.
1/4. The struggle to reverse the trend of declining listenership  for the FM radio stations and the ‘video halls’ had not been easy before the advancing of the Black Stars of Ghana, last night, to the 1/4 finals. A new struggle is now on and has led to a re-start of the hot competition for customers, first, on the side of FM radios which sell expensive time slots at the match breaks, their end and as they progress. Listener-numbers are proved (to the advertisers)by lists of phone-in callers (into the stations) and further, and even by call-attempts from failed calls [when the studio lines are busy-proving station popularity, never the less]. this is in addition to the opeinion polls on listenership. So, business is on and booming once again.
Mother of all questions: How do these 2 groups of entrepreneurs win customers?
2/5. For the FM Radios, it is a more civilised way. The nearer an advert slot is to the March start, break and when it is in progress (and is interrupted), the better. What the marketing agent and host need to do is to ‘add as much salt’ to the commentary, as possible. They talk of people like “Anri” of France [Henry’s name to his Kampala fans] “Luuni” [Roony] being on the field while they actually are not. They call Uruguay “Bu-Lugwala” and you feel the West Nile Ugandans are playing. Since there are no screens to prove them wrong, the audiences are as happy and as excited as those in Soccer City, South Africa.
3/5. For the video shacks [ebibaanda] in the slums, the struggle is to win as many cash-customers as possible [school children, lumpens and some hard-core football fans, etc]. But the video halls are many and competition is cut-throat too. So, what are the survival tricks: There are various but the commonest are:
Road-side adverts, written in chalk, on black-boards
Van-mounted loudspeaker announcements.
Village-megaphone, pole-hoisted, the “so called neigbourhood Radio Stations” with names like, Radio Kireka, Radio Bwaise, etc {banned by the UCC, to no avail}.
Roadside  touts, etc
4/5. Further on the ‘ibaanda’ (video halls/enclosures) competition methods: What they need to attract the Sh.100/= or 200/= paying customers, {gaining by ‘economies of scale, one presumes’}, is to promise them that Roony or Kaka will be playing while actually neither England nor Brazil are playing that day. The other day, when Cameroon was on the pitch, one road-side advert invited the customers to come and witness “LOOJA MILLA, OMOLOGO” (come and watch Roger Milla the football wizard). So, in as much as this man, who shone from 1982 to 90 for Cameroon and re-made’ popular by the current Coca Cola adverts showing his famous corner-jigs back in 1990, no longer plays, this same (old) fact is exploited by the video-hall people here, who use his legendary wizardly to attract customers today. This is what makes the WC in “Sousi” fun for every body here in Uganda. It relieves the masses of the boredom of listening to the NRM conference monologues, bravado and propaganda, ‘World without end’, Amen.
5/5. Finally, that the Video-hall operators can leave no stone unturned to attract instant-cash customers, is exemplified by the roadside advert in “Wantoni ward”, Mukono, yesterday, that invited people with words like this “Jjangu werolere Ssemattalo ow’okunna, ng’ abaluyanja b’empingu ya Bungereza battimpula aba Nazi aba-kabulu, aba Girimaani” which loosely translated goes like, “Come and behold the WW IV spectacle where the sailors of the British Navy destroy the Nazi opressors.., the Germans”. This advert must have been composed by a teacher of history (presumably at a fee, since most video-shack operators cannot speak English and may not know much about WW I, WW II and WC 1966). The idea here is to increase ‘the appetite’ of the fans and to make them think that the England-Germany WC match is as exciting as a war film. At the increased  200/= entry fee, no one can fail to pay. The big question: in the end, it is the Bungereza that was projected to devastate Girimaani, that lost 4-1 instead! How did the ‘dubbing translator’ deliver the match’s results over the megaphone, without loosing a name? One hopes he never ‘donated’ the 4 German goals to England but the answer is simple. If put to account, he may simply say: “This is Kampala” and then wait for the next match or film.
That is what makes football a universal game: the simple rules, the little cost to become part of the thing , the breaking of language-barriers, and finally, the universal fun and enjoyment.
Enjoy the WORLD CUP.
Christopher Muwanga,

P/S: The advert in Mukono yesterday that picked out the theme of England’s two wars with Germany and the 1966 final between the two sides may have been picked from an advert that has run on our TV screens for months, in advance of the WC in S. Africa.
In the advert, a little boy, an England fan and his dad, practice the pro-England chants and then enter a lift where they find rival German fans. The chants ran something like “Two World Wars and a Word Cup, England, England,…”. Repeated many times.
Now , instead of waiting to start shouting from the stands, in the safety of his English kin, the little boy blurts out the chant and his dad immediatly covers his mouth with his hand, as the German fans are amazed.
 May be, that is what filtered down to Mukono, where England was then supposed to destroy “Nazi Germany” this afternoon of 17th June, 2010, and ended up being punished themselves, instead. This World of Football !!!

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