Magnificent Century, a Turkish historical series, arrived on Uganda’s TV a few weeks ago and found a big audience, creating a growing demand for Turkish products in the East African country.
Hollywood (American), Bollywood (Indian), Nollywood (Nigeria) industries were once the most famous ones in the country. Then competing TV series and soap operas from Latin America and the Philippines became part of the entertainment as well. Now the Turkish historical TV series has struck a chord with Ugandan audiences, giving a tough competition to other genres.
GTV, a private television owned by Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, is broadcasting the Turkish series five times a week.
The comparative popularity of this genre, in the context of Uganda, is that the video jockey (VJ) simultaneously announces the film in local dialects in a hilarious fashion, attracting audiences that cannot speak English or Turkish.
Fatma Abbas, a trader who imports fabric from Turkey, told Anadolu Agency that there is a growing demand for Turkish products, possibly as a result of the popular Turkish series.
“The current problem is that Turkish products are in the high price segment and appeal to high-income groups only. But I believe Ugandan tailors will make a lot of money if they learn to stitch clothes that appear to come from the Ottoman era,” said Abbas.
Turkish fashion retailer LC Waikiki, which debuted in Uganda last year, said it is selling affordable fashion beyond Turkish borders.
Sevda Bilen, LC Waikiki country manager for Uganda, told Anadolu Agency that Turkey manufactures top-quality European products that are sold at cheap prices, promising a further look into the Ugandan concerns.
Sharifah Namutebi, a TV personality working with GTV, said that many people in Uganda were glued to Western movies, which influenced the culture and lifestyle of young people, who were drifted away from the native cultures.
“Young people just accept what the films tell them without questions, many of them dressing in skimpy clothing in imitation of their favorite actors and also glamorizing risky behaviors such as alcoholism, drug abuse, and sexual promiscuity. With the advent of TV programs that don’t inculcate negative foreign cultures, the popular Turkish TV series is destined to great success in Uganda,” said Namutebi, who has been regularly watching Magnificent Century since it started airing in Uganda.
- Inspiration for local cinema
Isa Kigongo, a videographer and producer, told Anadolu Agency that Magnificent Century is an inspiration for the country’s emerging cinema.
“There is a lot to learn from the Turkish series, including the variance of camera angles while filming. This is vital in conveying the overall message of the film and enhancing its overall mood,” Kigongo said.
He added that the steadily growing film industry in Uganda has produced films that achieved worldwide acclaim, such as Queen of Katwe, a drama that shows the scars poverty can leave on humans. “I believe the Turkish TV series will be the next learning point,” he said.
Kigongo also said that developed cinemas like that of Turkey should support emerging cinemas in the development, production, and distribution of their films through initiatives like “cinema funds”.
“Celebrated international cinemas and film festivals give out funds and run mentorship programs aimed at helping independent filmmakers get their projects done. I hope Turkey can do the same,” he added.