The witty and multi-talented Nana Kagga, 39, at the beginning of February sat down with Crystal Newman for her post-Sanyu FM online segment dubbed Crystal 1 On 1. Quick Talk found the chat so hilarious, and now reproduces part of it below:
Nana Kagga. How are you doing?
I’m fine! I’m actually at a really good place in my life. I’m unemployed, idle and disorderly; so, it is a really good place.
Not many people can say that…
Yes. I tend to make up jobs as I go along. Sometimes I’m an astronaut – on Mondays. Other days I’m like a research scientist. I’m doing great things in my head! [Laughs heartily.]
So, what is your morning like? I know you are high-energy.
It is called a type-A personality.
Yes…you normally have to do something in the morning to find your centre. What do you do?
I do kickboxing, martial arts; I do Pilates on different days. Literally my best thing to do is martial arts, because I pretend I am hitting people and I just visualise who pissed me off.
After I work out, my children come in, because I wake up at 5am. By 6am my children are coming in. We watch cartoons. Paw Patrol is very inspiring. It is epic! Then we go down for breakfast, I get them to school, then I go see my mum because it is on the way.
Yes. Some people feel me and my mother are unhealthily close. I look like my father, but I am my mother; like, this is her character! She is my best friend. She is the best antidote. By the time I leave at 9:30, I feel like I’m Superwoman.
I’m sure she is your number one fan...
Oh yes. It is almost like she needs therapy for that, but she is my number one fan. My mum says, ‘I don’t know how you do it, but my God, you’re doing alright!’ So, when you hear that most mornings, [especially] as a mother of three… [aged nine, five and three].
You were born in Nairobi...
Yes. My father and mother were refugees there during Idi Amin [regime]. My mother was nine months pregnant with me. She actually went into labour at the border.
My father was an engineer for KCC at the time and Amin wanted to use Katwe stretch to come into town, but it had a lot of potholes. He gave him 24 hours to fix it and everyone knew if you were ordered to do that, you would be taken away and nobody would hear from you again.
So, my dad got my mum into the car and drove straight to the border and they didn’t have their passports. From what I have heard, the soldiers started harassing my dad but my mum’s water broke and [the soldiers at immigrations] got so freaked out seeing a woman in labour and waved them on.
My birth certificate says I was born in Kenyatta hospital. I prefer to think I was born on the way.
When did you come back to Uganda?
We came back when I was 10 years old. I didn’t speak a word of English. Apparently we spoke Kiswahili and my parents went back to the house where they used to live in Masajja and it was bullet-ridden.
My dad rebuilt it by himself and his brother. He says it helped him overcome a lot of issues. We grew up in Masajja – me and my brothers and sisters [she says they are six siblings. “No, wait, nine. Actually 10. I’ll wait for when my father passes on…”]
There could be more?
Yes! My father is a hajji.
He’s still working?
He works part-time, but now mostly works on overseas negotiations for contracts…he is semi-retired. He’s living the good life. He loves to shop. He loves a good leather loafer.
I like that…when a parent shows you it is okay to like nice things.
I know! My father is 75; if you see a photograph of him, you would swear there is no way he is anywhere near that. My father survived exile, death threats, but through all of it we never realised how much in peril my parents’ lives were. We were just loved.
And he did everything possible to shield us from that. My mum wanted to be an actress, you know. Mummy was going to Hollywood then she met my dad and daddy had game! Before she knew it, she was in four kids deep [hearty laughter]…
My mother would create this cocoon where there was so much happiness. Even when there were gunshots, they were never threatening. She would stop if there was a roadblock and have a chat with the soldiers; so, she wouldn’t scare us and she would never lose it.
Even soldiers would see her and say ‘Nalongo!’ My mother to me is Superwoman.
My kids say, “Jajja-girl is off the chain, but jajja-boy has the Range Rovers”.
I find that amazing how you were raised to be strong, especially coming from a traditional Ganda family. I know there is something about you being a princess in there…
Yes. I own it. A lot. When I want to intimidate people, I pull that card. Being born into the royal family, you are born to serve. When we have a fundraising, I pull the princess card.
For some reason in Buganda, it still has so much power when you say, ‘Omumbejja wants this, omumbejja wants that…’ They do things when I invite my Kojja Wasajja, my cousin Vicky Jjunju. They add to the gravitas.
I want to pass that on to my children. My children are mixed. My only gift to them is their heritage. They speak Luganda.
My children are very aware they are here to serve. Their country, their culture, their lineage is all I can give them. Baana ba mumbejja. [Daughter Naava, who is Nana’s carbon copy, is half American, half Ugandan, while the boys are half British, half Ugandan].
I have a friend who has mixed-race children abroad and when she went out with them, they assumed she was the nanny.
Oh, I can tell you stories about that. Immigrations was the worst. And everyone thinks you are privileged to be taking care of these little mixed-race people and you’re thinking…okay…!
The boys have British passports, Naava has an American passport; I refused to change my Ugandan nationality; so, when they see Lachlan Macpherson, Callum Macpherson, Naava Hill Macpherson, then they see my Ugandan passport with a visa……..
It is very demoralising. Some people celebrate having mixed- race kids, like it is an achievement, which I find very odd.
They go out there and are like…. ‘the hodulopu’ [they collapse into laughter]. I was going to [record a meme] saying: ‘Callum! Lachlan! Come and close this your hodulopu. But….I will for once in my life filter my thoughts.
She [Bad Black] is living her best life.
She is living her best life and to her that is…eerrrm…anyway, this year I’m in the ‘sitting loom’. Oh my! [Speaking into the camera:] I’m sorry for saying that. Please don’t come for me. I am a very well-behaved young lady. And I use the word young loosely.
Well, we know Nana; so, well-behaved is a matter of perspective, I think.
Crystal, we have known each other for so long and right now I don’t feel like you’re my friend!
You went to Kampala Parents…
Ah ah…I went to Budo Junior, then my mum came to visit us and found we had biguuna [ringworm] and she took us out straight away and I went to Kitante primary school, then Gayaza High School, where I was suspended in S.3 under dubious circumstances – I wasn’t allowed to defend myself.
Gayaza is symptomatic of our education system. You don’t question; you just do. You fall in line, you must marry the right man and never really stand outside the box.
- Born to Eng Abdul Kagga (of Kagga and Partners) and Nalongo Beatrice Mwagale Kagga in April, 1979.
- After Gayaza High School, she enrolled at Redmaids High School in Bristol, UK and later, the University of Birmingham.
- She is a film producer, chemical engineer, screenwriter, actress and film director, among other things.
- For Ugandans of a certain generation, she was one of the best TV entertainment presenters, presenting Jam Agenda on now-defunct WBS TV with Collin Serubiri in 1997.
- She has had a stint in Hollywood, starring in Star Trek, He’s Just Not That Into You and CSI:NY among others.
- Engineering runs in her blood. Her grandfather was an engineer, two of her siblings are civil engineers and a third is an electrical engineer.
- Her signature look is her all-natural afro.
- With her sister Meme Kagga, Nana owns production company Savannah MOON Productions and has worked with Tullow Oil.
- Her full name is Nana Kaggale Nabateregga Kagga Hill Macpherson.