Taking Stock of Zuena’s Life Stories

As one middle-aged woman returned from India where she had just undergone an operation to remove a tumour from her brain, she was told by her daughter that Zuena Kirema was waiting at Entebbe airport.

With a lit-up face, the woman said: “Oh Zuena. Zuena mukwano gwange (Zuena my friend).” She told her about her operation and that she was in pain. Zuena had previously hosted the woman on NTV’s Life Stories and going by her reaction at the airport, it looked like Zuena had struck a chord.

Justine Nakitende, who also appeared on Life Stories to talk about her struggles in looking after a child with mental and physical disabilities, acted like she had Zuena’s confidence and had become her friend after appearing on the show.

“She is having a wheelchair made for my daughter,” Nakitende said.

Nakitende also said as a result of appearing on the show, she had received capital to set up a business, in order to take better care of her daughter. So, how did Zuena, come to touch many lives?

“I have always wanted to achieve something for myself,” Zuena, who started presenting Life Stories last year in August, says. She replaced Justine Nameere on the show.

She does not reveal how exactly she got the job – apart from the fact that her husband, singer Bebe Cool, informed her about the opening – but she says it has helped her become more knowledgeable and has benefitted her and her family.

“When I interviewed two children, one was 13 and the other 15, who were living on their own, I told my children, ‘you have to watch this show’. Afterwards, I told my daughter, Beata, ‘when I tell you to bathe, you have to bathe because you have a mother to tell you what you should be doing’. And when she says that she does not want to eat, I tell her, ‘remember those children?’ So she eats. This show has made us appreciate life more,” Zuena says.

“When I started doing the show, there was little feedback but now, as soon as the show ends, the phone is ringing. One caller will tell you, ‘Me I have ka-10k [Shs 10,000], you come and pick it’. Some people offer 50,000 while others offer 100,000 [for guests with touching stories],” Zuena says.

From Hummer to bodaboda:

When asked what challenges she faces, Zuena says: “So far, it has been having to work upcountry. In some places [where interviewees are], the ‘roads’ are too narrow for cars so, we have to take bicycle rides to those places. The rides cost [Shs] 1,000. If there are no bicycles, you walk. The areas can be dusty yet we have to look clean for the camera. I have had to wash my feet and then smile for the camera,” Zuena says.

For one used to living it large – her husband drives her around in a Hummer sometimes – a Zuena on a bodaboda is a picture many would pay good benjamins for.

She says having to wear make-up for the camera is also a problem. Her skin broke out in what looks like pimples that have failed to heal, she says, because she has to wear makeup for the camera. In past interviews, the 29-year-old mother-of-three has said she never wears make-up her beauty is all natural.

Source : The Observer


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