There’s a burgeoning DIY action cinema scene in Uganda: welcome to ‘Wakaliwood’


Deep in the Ugandan slum of Wakaliga, a thriving action film industry called Wakaliwood is emerging. The scene is a uniquely Ugandan mash-up of Western action films and Chinese Kung Fu flicks and led by only one man – Isaac Nabwana, the founder of Ramon Film Productions (RFP).

Despite being Uganda’s first action-film company, RFP is gaining a cult following not just in Uganda but all over the world for producing films that are absolutely bonkers and in possession of a rather odd allure.

Vice spent a day on the set of the next Wakaliwood hit, Who Killed Captain Alex. Produced on a budget of $200, the film is typical of the Wakaliwood genre, featuring a ruthless gang of drug dealers called the Tiger Mafia, some commandos, martial arts and a miscellany of heavy munitions. Check out their eye-opening mini-documentary on the forthcoming film below:

Nabwana grew up during the brutal regime of Idi Amin, who, from 1971 to 1979, presided over the killing of 100,000 to 500,000 Ugandans. When the British government broke all diplomatic relations with the ruler, he added the abbreviation “CBE” to his title, for “Conqueror of the British Empire.” Yet Nabwana, whose grandfather was a farmer who owned the land where RFP operates today, was spared most of this violence by sheer luck. [Vice]

It’s outstanding what Nabwana has been able to accomplish with such little resources at his disposal. In his first ten action flicks the producer became known for leading gangs down to the local abattoir and harvesting cow blood for use as a special effect. Of course, when all the actors started getting tetanus Nabwana realised that he’d have to switch to food colouring.

Despite the relaxed attitude towards health and safety, Nabwana is never short on acting talent for his movies. “I tell you,” Nabwana says, “every Ugandan wants to act in an action movie.”

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