Friday 24th of May 2024

Nairobi, Kenya

Rachel Kiwanuka and Cleopatra Koheirwe Exclusive interview with Satisfashion UG

Posted On : April 7, 2020

Oscar Alochi


The two stars go beyond being just friends, they have so much in common. Kiwanuka is the Communications Officer at Women at Work International (WAWI), a Not-for-profit organization which works to improve the quality life of women through health and income improvement projects. Koheirwe is the Public Relations Manager at Star Times Uganda, a media company that offers digital terrestrial television and satellite television services in Uganda.

They’ve both been recording artistes; Kiwanuka featured on Pepsi’s World Cup song ‘Oh Africa’ in 2010 together with Keri Hilson and Akon, while Koheirwe was a member of The Obsessions, arguably the most successful music/dance group in Uganda. They’ve both had stints on TV and radio as hosts. They are also actresses and Event hosts. Also, this shoot is not their first time appearing in a photo shoot together. So, it’s not a surprise that they’re close.

As I chat with them via email, because we’re social distancing, I learn that while they are obviously worried about the future, they want everyone to be hopeful. In this cover story, they reflect on their present and future, and what we should all learn from this global pandemic, that is Covid-19.

Rachel K

This video on Tik Tok of you and your mum pulling some dance moves is hilarious, how did it come together?
Thank you! My mom wanted to show me that she can still move at 60 years, so she challenged me and really did an amazing job. We learned the moves on Tik-Tok and boom the video was made.

Model: Rachel Kiwanuka

It looks like you two are very close!
Yes, my mum and I are very close. I draw a lot of inspiration from her. Besides, we work together. I’m at the Communications Officer at WAWI, an organisation she founded in 2003.

What is the biggest life lesson she has taught you?
To always remain humble and be myself. There is nothing as bad as being someone you’re not and being unapproachable.

I guess that’s one of the traits that have kept me going on this entertainment business. I always try and live by that and it shows. She is really the rock in my life.

The situation in the country and the world at large is worrying, how are you staying sane?
I try to keep to myself most of the time, reading, working out, listening to music, writing music. My mom and I love to watch movies so we have been doing that a lot.

Are you living together?

What lessons are you taking from this experience?
My major lesson has been learning how a simple act of personal hygiene can save the planet. This virus has spread because some people don’t wash hands, sanitize, or cover their mouths when coughing, etc. We must be mindful about the people around us and protect each other.

How do you usually deal with personal or work challenges?
I’m a pretty spiritual person. I pray every day. This is something I learned from my mother, I’m always hopeful. Even when I’m overwhelmed, I keep a positive attitude.

Do you think we shall overcome?
Yes, most definitely we shall.

Personally, it has left me quite confused. How can I restore hope in my heart?
It’s going to be alright Hassan. Everyone just needs to stay calm and take the precautions as shared by the Ministry of Health, and slowly, eventually this too shall pass. Staying prayerful helps too. It brings a sense of calmness that we all need.

Let’s talk about you acting. Is it something you’ve always wanted to get into?
Yes, I am acting and it has been a great experience. My brothers and my mom have been acting since I was young, so I grew up in a family that was in the industry. I’ve always wanted to be an actress because I knew I had the potential.

So, when the opportunity came of course I had to go for it. I auditioned for the role and the rest has been history. I do plan on exploring more of this side of me, of course alongside the music.

You travelled back to Uganda after almost 10 years away. Did you have a culture shock? No not at all. I was in Uganda from 2006 -2011. So, I was already used to being in Uganda and knew how to cope and adjust when I came back in 2018. No culture shock at all, I love Uganda and I’m used to everything now.

Let’s talk about your job at WAWI
I’m the Communications Officer at the organisation. It was founded in 2003 by mom together with other women in the entertainment industry. Our purpose is to improve the quality of life of women through health and income enhancement. We use entertainment as the main tool to educate them.

\We also do awareness and sensitization on reproductive health, helping women in rural Uganda learn about things like Family planning. Our biggest campaign is the ‘End Fistula Project’. We help young women understand the importance of safe motherhood to end Fistula, a complication that results from a damaged bladder during child birth. Annually, over half a million women die due to various complications during pregnancy and child birth.

It looks like it keeps you quite busy
Yes it does. But I still get time to do influencer work for brands in the fashion and beauty space. I still do music and acting too. I’m also planning to go back to school to do my Masters. It’s something I’ve been thinking about.

It’s been quite a while. We want new music.
For sure. I have an EP coming out that I have been working on for almost two years now. I have worked with some amazing producers and really can’t wait for it to come out later this year.


The situation in the country and the world at large is worrying, how are you staying sane?
By listening to some uplifting music, spending time with my daughter, but also sanitizing and social distancing.

Model: Cleopatra Koheirwe

What are you listening to?
Gospel music, it soothes me. Mostly Chris Tomlin and Hillsong. I am also listening to my personal favorites such as John Legend, Alicia Keys, and Corinne Bailey Rae among others. They inspire me.

What lessons are you taking from this experience?
That we are all the same, no matter where we come from. Life is precious. It is important to count our blessings and be grateful for each day and the air we breathe.  This pandemic has put the world at a standstill but I think in a way, it is helping us take things slow, spend time with family and also reflect on our lives. We are always caught up in the hustle and bustle of making a living that we never take time to rest. This has pushed us to take a break like it or not.

These challenges are unique and incomparable, but is there a point in your life where your patience and faith were tested to the core?
Yes, there is. The point in my life where my patience and faith were tested was when I lost my mom! I was angry with God! I could not comprehend why he let her die. She meant the world to me. I have grown to accept it and make peace with God, we are good, He has had my back all these years. Prayer has kept me sane.

You are the PRO of StarTimes. You are an actress and all the many other things you do. How do you balance all those commitments with your role as a mother?
Well, as you know, the film industry is still growing here so it is not as busy as it should be. I am able to manage my acting work because it is seasonal, so I fit it into my StarTimes work schedule.  If I am to emcee at a corporate event, these usually happen in the evenings or on weekends so I am able to do that too, and it is also occasional so when booked, I plan my calendar. On a normal working day, I make sure I rush home after work so I can be in time to interact with my daughter, listen to how her day went and also put her to sleep. It is not easy doing all this but I have my priorities set so I make time for each and I ensure I am fully present in all.

Does your daughter understand what’s going on? How are you easing this for her?
She is 6 years old now but in her little world, she’s sort of aware of what is happening because I told her in child language about Corona Virus, and also at her school, they were told about it and advised to wash hands and not hug or shake hands. When school was closed, she told me, “Mommy, there is no school tomorrow because of corona virus. The president said we stay home.” Good thing is I have been spending much more time with her so she is happy and relaxed with no worries. She feels safe.

What’s your biggest worry now?
Well, even if I did not want to worry, I would be lying if I said I am not worried. I am worried about our safety as a country, and if we will make it out of this pandemic. I am also worried that it’s going to affect us economically. I am worried about my family at large and praying everyone is safe. These worries are more than the ones I had a month ago, but I am keeping the faith and hoping for the best.

This is the part that confuses me the most. What could be the reason we are getting these unique challenges? 
Honestly, I have no freaking idea why this is happening. In my mind, it’s a movie. Like ‘a lab test gone wrong’ kind of situation. The film Contagion breaks it down in the way I imagine.

Shall we overcome?
Yes, we shall overcome. My guardian always says, ‘No situation is permanent. Every problem has a solution.” The doctors and governments around the world are working hard at solving and containing Covid-19 so I believe it shall pass. Let’s not dwell on the negative news and let us be cautious not to forward or repost or share info that is not verified. Let us follow the proper channels and avoid causing more panic. Not everyone is strong hearted through such times. So, let us beware.

On a lighter note, what should we watch on StarTimes to keep our spirits up now that we must keep at home?
Well, for starters, for those with smart phones, download the StarTimes ON App and watch lots of entertainment at a tap of a finger for everyone.

There is a variety of content including top TV series such as Empire on Fox, The General’s Daughter on Novela E Plus, local films, a new channel Nina Novelas for the Telemundo fans, educational documentaries and children programs including Home schooling shows, Nat Geo Wild, Investigation Discovery (iD), Music & fun entertainment on our exclusive local channels; Face TV, Magic 1HD and Sanyuka TV and much more. So, despite the Sports hiatus, there is a lot to enjoy on StarTimes and quite affordably too on your decoder or via the App. The choice is yours.

Styled by Kaijuka Abbas (Kai’s Divo Collection)
Makeup by Shades of Beauty
Photographed by Fred Bugembe
Interviewer : Hassan Ssentongo


This article originally appeared on Satifashion Ug

Oscar Alochi


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