From 1994 to 2017, Ndawula worked for Capital Radio. There was an outpouring of grief as people from all walks of life mourned the death of one whom they regarded as the best radio broadcaster in Uganda’s history of privately owned commercial radio.
The presentation ‘the beginning’ was created to examine the early circumstances of Alex Ndawula’s life that highlight his Career of Excellence. It’s one of several tributes to the late great veteran radio broadcaster in Uganda’s electronic media landscape. The presentation examines primary data from some of Alex Ndawula’s public interviews in order to identify characteristics of his childhood that served as the foundation for his illustrious career in broadcasting.
Childhood activities and interests are widely acknowledged to play an important role in the development of individuals in adulthood. Alex Ndawula’s illustrious career can be traced back to certain patterns of growth in childhood, some attributed to his parents, others to his natural character, interests, and activities, and some dependent on destiny, such as unforeseen circumstances that led him to certain educational institutions, place of birth, and social connections. Ndawula stated this in one of his public interviews:
“My life as a child has quite significantly impacted on the person I am today.”
A Legend is Born
Alex Ndawula was born in New York on January 8, 1963, to Emmanuel Ndaula, a Third Secretary (diplomat) at the newly opened Ugandan Embassy in the United States of America, and Mary Frances Musoke Ndaula, who worked at the United Nations Secretariat (Headquarters). Uganda established an embassy in the United States three months after gaining independence on October 9, 1962. To distinguish himself from his parents, Alex Ndawula spelled his surname differently. The family also received a baby girl named Maureen Ndawula, who followed Alex and they remained two siblings until his death on June 6, 2022. New York exposed Alex Ndawula to a big world at a young age, which came in handy later in his radio career. began.
After his father died of cancer in 1971, the family returned to Uganda when his maternal grandfather became ill. To be close to and care for her father, his mother took a job as a tutor at Makerere University before becoming Warden of Mary Stuart Hall. The intellectual environment at Makerere aided Ndawula’s development. Alex Ndawula began attending Nakasero Primary School. Because he had asthma, a doctor recommended that he study in Nairobi, where the weather was slightly different, and his mother, who was a Catholic, enrolled him in Standard (Primary) Three at St. Mary’s Nairobi Catholic School. The original East African Community (EAC) of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania had not yet disintegrated at this point.
After finishing primary school, his mother decided it would be more cost effective to bring him back to Uganda for secondary education and enrolled him at St. Mary’s College Kisubi before transferring to Namasagali College in Senior 4. Namasagali had a robust extracurricular program, which enabled Ndawula to pursue his interests. Alex Ndawula went on to attend Caltec Academy and the Uganda College of Commerce (UCC) Nakawa.
Influence of his Parents on his Career
Alex Ndawula’s career development can be seen to have been influenced by his parents in a variety of ways. In interviews he gave while still alive, he emphasized the following:
“My mum taught me that if you do anything you do it to the best you can, all the rest will follow. When I came to radio I wanted to be the best I could be and the rest followed.”
This statement implies that Alex Ndawula’s work ethic was instilled in him by his mother. Many people who have worked with Alex Ndawula attest to his dedication to his work and desire for perfection. It was almost as if he was competing with himself.
In another context, his parents initiated his music-based radio career when he was a child. Alex Ndawula confirmed this in another of his statements.
“My mum and my late dad used to like music and they took me for piano lessons in primary and intermediate classes. I used to listen to their music and also started getting my music do it came from there.”
On a more practical level, Alex Ndawula revealed that, “My mum had given me a piece of equipment as a gift. It was called a Technics and it had a record player, a cassette player and a radio all built in one.” This was when he was at St. Mary’s Boarding Primary School.
Alex Ndawula also credited his mother for sending him to the best schools, which influenced his life and career:
“My mother worked hard, took me to the best schools from where I acquired quality education for which I am grateful, to her.”
All of the aforementioned incidents and situations were crucial in Alex’s development as a fantastic radio host. He became a stickler for perfection and learned popular music that was played on the radio.
The Impact of Schools on Alex Ndawula’s Career
Aside from his parents, who still played an indirect role by sending him to certain schools, the various educational institutions he attended provided a strong foundation for Alex Ndawula by allowing him to pursue his music and radio-related interests in his childhood.
Accordingly, “At St. Mary’s Nairobi, it was a boarding school but they would give you Saturday morning off. As part of the school fees, we had pocket money and I used it to buy records to play on the equipment my mother had bought for me. Also the curriculum at Namasagali College made you a whole person (it was balanced with curricula and extra curricular activities),” Ndawula also stated.
Alex Ndawula’s Personal Character and Success
Apart from the aforementioned influences, Alex Ndawula’s own personality traits such as focus and consistency are seen to play a significant role in his career development.
Focus and Consistency
To emphasize his point, Alex Ndawula attributed his success primarily to focus.
“You’ve got to have focus,” he explained. Alex Ndawula only hosted three radio shows during his entire radio career: Morning Crew/Big Breakfast, Overdrive, and Dance Force. He worked for one radio station for 23 years. This consistency and focus enabled him to perfect his craft and become a memorable companion to millions of Ugandans.
Curiosity and Thirst for Learning
Alex Ndawula’s curiosity and thirst for knowledge made him a knowledgeable and informed presenter.
“When you are a kid in school you’ve got to learn things. Even if you are not going to do Rugby, you’ve got to know who the stars in Rugby are internationally such that when you are on air, you have what to say about them. Kids nowadays have the Internet but they do not want to know/learn about what is going on,” Alex Ndawula emphasized.
In addition, he stated: “I would collect comics and novels from friends after all, we used to have standard books which everyone or at least most of us in class had to have read. This upbringing has had an impact on me because in my scope of work, I have to research and be well informed, fortunately, it all began when I was a child.”
Thus, his curiosity and thirst for knowledge extended to music, which he needed to learn. As he stated, “regarding music, when I was beginning to play, I did not know some of the older music.I would start trying to find out what I didn’t know for example Zairois (Congolese) music by asking older people like my uncles which the big songs had been in their years.”
Hobbies and Dreams
The importance of Alex Ndawula’s hobbies and dreams in his development as a successful radio broadcaster cannot be overstated. In his own words, he stated,
“By the time I was in ‘A’ Level my friends at university were borrowing my records to play at their parties then they started inviting me to play before they got me jobs to play. One thing led to another until I ended up on radio, hired by those who thought I knew music.”
The Power of Social Networking
According to the previous point, Alex Ndawula’s entry into radio was made possible by recommendations from people he had either studied with, played music for, or lent his records to. This realization emphasizes the importance of social networking and the accumulation of social capital. It would have been difficult for Alex to become the illustrious radio broadcaster that he became without such a network of acquaintances.
He also recognized how schools helped him build a social network that aided his career: “(Through the schools my mother sent me to) “I got to meet and interact with the so called children of the filthy rich and my old boys are also doing well in their professions. My network of childhood friends is so wide that I cannot exhaust all of them.”
It was through St. Mary’s Nairobi that Alex met Emma Katto, a brother to John Katto, who had been tasked by the Katto Family to set up Radio Sanyu, that first hired Alex Ndawula. It is Emma Kato who requested John Katto to consider Alex Ndawula for a job at Radio Sanyu because he had known that he knew music.
Likewise Alex Ndawula wanted to become a radio presenter because he had listened to international broadcasters who inspired him to dream: “When I was in primary, FM Radio was private in the UK (United Kingdom) but at night you would be able to catch FM Radio from the UK on Short Wave (in Uganda) so you would hear them at night Radio Carolina, Kiss FM because they were pirate radio stations and they all used to be on the River Thames. So for me I had always thought I would love to do radio. So when John Katto came I said why not. It was one of my dreams and I knew all the music they had.”
Alex was not only inspired by what he heard on those radio stations based in UK, he tried to learn from the presenters who he heard on those radio stations and this left a lasting effect on his performance as a radio presenter.
Practice Makes Perfect
Behind the scenes, great performers go at length to practice. Alex Ndawula spent many hours practicing how to present on radio and how to play music. This was because he acknowledged that he would not become a master of his craft if he did not practice:
“You have to practice. Nowadays people don’t practice. If you go to school and they teach you how to paint they can’t teach you how to be a master. You have to work at it. You can’t be an instant success.”
Based on findings from different public interviews Alex Ndawula gave, it can be concluded that certain patterns of growth in his childhood, some attributed to his parents, others to his natural character, interests and activities and some dependent on destiny, such as unforeseen circumstances that led him to certain educational institutions, place of birth, and social connections.
Friends, fans and colleagues will meet at Capital FM Gardens at Plot 1A Kisementi on Friday 8th July 2022 for a public vigil and memorial mass starting at 2:00pm.
There will be a Requiem Mass at Rubaga Cathedral in Kampala on Saturday 09th July 2022 starting at 03:00pm.
Burial will take place at their ancestral home in Kyamaganda Village, Lwengo District on Sunday 10th July 2022 starting with a Mass at 12:00noon.
Informed are; Relatives, Friends and In-laws.
MAY HIS SOUL REST IN ETERNAL PEACE