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Meet Nabuuma, the maestro driving premier public events

Joweria Nabuuma

Joweria Nabuuma

Her work then as the events manager at Vision Group and her meticulous attention to detail put JOWERIA NABUUMA at the frontline of events management in Uganda. When you mention events management, Nabuuma’s name somehow props up.

Even for events where she is not the poster manager, she’s somewhat somewhere in the background pulling some strings to make it work. As Frank Kisakye writes, it was, therefore, no surprise that her recent second edition of the Baby and Kids Expo received such good plaudits for the class and organisation it exuded.

You may not have seen her physically but chances are high that, she at some point, managed your company’s or agency’s event through a proxy or virtually. Her expertise is now sought after in Rwanda and Kenya as well. Under her management, events such as Vision Group’s Coca-Cola Rated Next talent show, Bride and Groom Expo, Twins Festival, Toto Festival, Harvest Money Expo, Pakasa Forum, and Embuutu y’Embutikizi all reached their peak popularity and became staples on Uganda’s festival and expo calendar.

Her Baby and Kids Expo made a triumphant return to UMA show grounds Lugogo from May 10 to May 12, 2024, after a five-year hiatus. Encouraged by the positive feedback from children, exhibitors, parents and vendors, Nabuuma is determined to make the expo an annual event, promising an even bigger and better edition in 2025.

Nabuuma engaging exhibitors recently
Nabuuma engaging exhibitors recently

As an expecting mother back in 2016, the same year she formed Kiara Events, the pain that she went through trying to prepare for her first childbirth made her dream of an expo where shopping and knowledge sharing for the expecting parents, experienced mothers and experts shared knowledge while shopping at the same time.

This year’s expo panel discussions focused on mental wellness, parenting of the current generation which seeks answers and questions every parental instruction or decision, children and parental health, among others.

For the slightly younger children aged five and below, the all-access children’s play area which had water slides, bouncing castles, toy car rides, face painting, wheel of fortune spins, floorboard draft and giant dice spins were their highlight of the expo. Pottery and painting appealed to the children aged above seven years.

For the majority of the children and parents, it was the first time they were physically touching the pottery wheel which, according to Bruno Sserunkuma, who has taught art for more than 30 years at Makerere University’s Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts, the oldest art school in East Africa region, instigates and stimulates the children’s creativity, curiosity and excitement, teaches them distress tolerance and encourages patience. Sserunkuma says this is perfectly in line with the government’s realignment of lower secondary education to skills and practical-based subjects and courses.

“That experience is good and we should be encouraging this type of education where children get exposed to clay and different ideas; they touch and feel and then start to build something with all the uncertainty of how their final product will turn out to be. That is how you build creativity amongst children. Creating basic shapes relaxes their minds and keeps them busy, and helps them to understand their environment and surroundings,” Sserunkuma said.

Elisha Betty Lukwago, 4, unlike her agemates who were more interested in the bouncing castles and water slides, spent most of her time at the Tonda World stall where there was crafting and painting. She said she loves “painting and wanted to paint something with very beautiful ears and lipstick for my mummy”

Liz Nazziwa, proprietor of Tonda World, said her craft and painting stalls were popular with the children because such art spaces and accessories are not readily available in the country yet for every human being, there is always an artistic and creative element within and many never get the chance to practically put this element to use.

“Children love colour, they love to imagine, they love to create; [Tonda World] was a space for them to play with colour and it had unique canvases, we cut for them ready characters like cars, butterflies, bees, and princesses, we had a range of things to choose from. Things they see on TV and colour them the way they want, that really motivates and excites them. Even mixing of colours that they already know and they turn into something else also excites children who are drawn to colour and it’s a way of relaxation.” she told The Observer.

Children painting at the Baby and Kids Expo 2024
Children painting at the Baby and Kids Expo 2024

Diana Kajumba, the proprietor of Kids Nook Store, another exhibitor, said this year’s Baby and Kids Expo was the first one where she has exhibited and was impressed by the quality and class, and attendance numbers.

Kajumba said though sales were not her main target at the expo but, rather, exposure and capturing the next potential customer, she made good sales as well and has no complaints.

“The attendance was also good, given what was happening, the census, concerts and the like; this expo has the potential to be bigger and better. The disappointment was that other shops didn’t come. Next year, we should have like 50 to 100 baby shops. The more of us, the merrier, then customers are able to compare quality, and variety and know why we price the way we price,” she said.

“My highlight of the expo was that for every 10 people who came at the expo, at least four knew us and for me, that spoke and told me that we’re doing something right. The order at the expo was just perfect; Kiara Events really put up a show. There were small hiccups here and there, but I talked to other exhibitors and we all have the same feeling that what was promised is what we got. I have been to several exhibitions and I think this was the most orderly one. I got the chance to talk to the customers and convince them. A convinced customer is better because you know they will eventually come to your shop someday,” Kajumba said.

BREASTMILK DONATION ‘SURPRISE’

The expo also highlighted an unexpected aspect: breastmilk donation. The state minister for Gender, Labour, and Social Development in charge of Children and Youth Affairs, Balaam Barugahara, along with many attendees, were surprised to learn about the importance of breastmilk donations.

Atta BreastMilk Community and MAA Lactation Centre emphasized the need for mothers with excess breastmilk to donate, underscoring the well-documented benefits of breastfeeding for at least two years. Atta works with several government hospitals where mothers with excessive milk can reach out and donate to the lactation centres.

GHETTO KIDS EXCITEMENT

The Ghetto Kids, formerly known as Triplets Ghetto Kids, have garnered a global fan base, appealing to all age groups and races; little wonder that the Baby and Kids Expo wisely made their performances the daily entertainment highlight of the three-day event.

The Ghetto Kids modelling
The Ghetto Kids modelling

Both children and parents eagerly awaited their arrival and performances, watching with keen interest and attention. The Ghetto Kids’ ever-present smiles and unique dance styles were truly a sight to behold, adding a special charm and energy to the expo.

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