Faces of Africa – Wakaliwood: The Cinematic Dream

Wakaliwood is a well-known film industry in Uganda. It is located in Wakaliga, a slum in the capital city Kampala. The films combine elements of martial arts and western action movies together with Ugandan culture.

The soul content producer for Wakaliwood is Ramon Film Productions which was founded by Isaac Nabwana. His filmmaking was ignited at an early age through listening to his older siblings who would sneak out to watch movies like Bud Spencer and Bruce Lee.

“I try to make my movies as interesting as they used to tell me, not as I saw these movies were done,” told the Founder and Director of Ramon Film Productions, Isaac Nabwana.

Isaac Nabwana, the founder and director of Ramon Film Productions during a movie production

His journey to becoming the best director in Uganda was not easy. Not being able to afford money for school, he dropped out and started working as a brick maker.  Nevertheless, his desire to become a filmmaker still lingered and he decided to take a course in film editing that would last six months.

“I went there for one month to learn how to do it, not to pass the examination,” said Isaac.

He then bought a video camera with the money he had hard earned from his job, and on realizing that he still needed basic lessons, he approached a camera person from Ugandan TV who helped him sharpen his skills. It was after this that he filmed his first movie in ten days.

Later on, in 2010, Isaac released a famous film titled “Who Killed Captain Alex?” A film that got critical acclaims to jolt him into the international limelight.

Ramon Film Production actors showcasing their martial arts prowess in a film

Many international film festivals invited Isaac to screen because they were fascinated with his unique skills to use effects, especially in the film “Once a Soldier” that was released later on. Ramon Film Productions churns out up to ten films annually that are shot within Wakaliga slum.

In order to achieve this success, Isaac works with a diverse team of volunteers, forming major departments that work in harmony for the vision of Ramon Film Productions to be achieved.

Dauda Bisaso, a props master at Ramon Film Productions holding a fake gun that is used in the making of movies

One key department is prop making, headed by Dauda Bisaso, who can make any type of prop required for their films. Also, to be able to achieve their niche, there is a martial arts training department instructed by Charles Bukenya, who is the lead actor in many Ramon Film Productions.

“The reason why I love Kung Fu is that during my childhood I enjoyed watching Chinese and American movies,” told Charles Bukenya.

In 2015, Charles and a few of his colleagues got a scholarship to study martial arts in China, which enhanced their skills for the movies they produce.

Wakastarz, a youth wing at Ramon Film Productions during martial arts training

Isaac’s desire to pass on his skills to the younger generation encouraged him to start a youth wing that focuses on nurturing kids called Wakastarz.

“I respect talent and profession because if you promote talent, someone will find it easy to do a job,” said Isaac Nabwana.

Seeing his childhood dream come to pass, Isaac Nabwana continues to influence creativity in the slum and talent exploration for all.