Uganda’s comedian Annie Kansiime has for some time been referred to as the queen of comedy in Africa.
She is a darling to many including the not-so-into-comedy-fans with her popularity stretching from East Africa to the entire continent.
Skits were all she needed to break the jinx and the exported clips catapulted her to fame and fortune.
Locally, the past few months have seen comic video clips trending on social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp much to the amusement of some comedy fans in the country.
Done in Tumbuka often, with English subtitles, the viral skits are hilariously funny. The scores of the skits are exported outside Malawi through uploads on YouTube channel. So far, the comedian known as Nya Uyu has garnered thousands of views.
As a stand-up comic and performer, Nya Uyu will leave you in stitches: and you are either holding your sides or wiping your eyes, even both while asking for more.
Generally, her doses are bite-sized as her slender self, such a stylish frame that you can probably fit more belly laughs in your work day than action points and still knock off feeling like a success.
Born Felistus Tibalenge Ngwira, the 23-year-old has been trading under the moniker Nya Uyu, a name that was birthed from nothing but pure definition of comedy.
“Nya Uyu has no meaning. Uyu means this one in Tumbuka and ‘Nya’ usually comes before someone’s name mostly for ladies from the North,” she says.
Ngwira recalls that it all started with a post netballer Mwawi Kumwenda made on Facebook last November, where she was praising the nameless comedian’s video clip.
“Move over Kansiime, [Ugandan comedian] Malawi has got its own Nya Uyu and she is hilarious,” she wrote then.
Nya Uyu explains that at the time she didn’t have a stage name and back in the villages up north there’s always that one woman who is a centre of attraction in terms being a loud mouth and where everyone gets the daily dish of gossip.
“I used to release my videos with no name and I found about it on Mwai Kumwenda’s [the professional netballer] Facebook post and I loved the name, that’s when I decided to continue using it,” Ngwira explains.
“In the process of coming up with a name too many ideas were coming to my mind and Nya Uyu kept coming up. In Tumbuka when you are trying to remember something you go like ‘Nya Uyu’. But I didn’t know Mwawi will take that name seriously,” the comedian says.
For the Lilongwe-based entrepreneur’s comedy journey started almost four years ago but she has always been an actress.
“In 2014 I made two audios which I shared on one of the WhatsApp groups I am in and before I knew it, they had gone viral. I was talking about how northerners kiss and the other one was about how northerners love soya pieces and how they will get disappointed the day they will find out it’s not meat.
“I loved the response the clips generated and in 2017 I decided to take a step further by making short videos. Besides that, I am an actress. I was with Lions Theatre and but now I am with Ambassadors of Christ Ministries Theatre. I am an entrepreneur, I do a lot of stuff like I am an events planner plus at times I host events, just to mention a few,” Ngwira says.
But for now, comedy is her passion such that she has plans of formalising Nya Uyu as a product.
“I will be launching the Nya Uyu brand soon, I want to bring a whole new thing on the market. Comedy is my career and my calling. I am so passionate about it; hence, I have plans to launch it in a professional way. There’s so much that I cannot talk about now but rather say watch the space and let the actions we are implementing talk volumes,” she says.
But why do the skits in Tumbuka and not Chichewa or English?
“I am used to Chitumbuka. It is my point of uniqueness. Plus, I’m a young Malawian lady who is proud to speak my vernacular language so I want to prescribe this pride to my fellow Malawians so that we can be creative using our mother language,” she says.
So far, she has two standup comedy appearances which she said the response was encouraging.
“I have performed at Bingu International Conference Centre and Kamuzu College of Nursing. At BICC, it was at Exploits University finale dinner and I was the only one performing and at KCN, it was a drama festival,” said Ngwira.
She cites Basket Mouth, Trevor Noah and Kevin n Funke as some of her favourite comedians.
While it does not take time to produce one episode, her skits mostly talk about socio and cultural ills; hence, they trend with the mantra, Vilekeke.
“My thematic idea is Vilekeke which in Tumbuka means it must come to an end. In essence, the idea is to have the issues my comedy questions in the video clips, to come to an immediate end. Producing these clips does not take time when I am using my phone but when using the HD cameras it takes two weeks because mostly, we shoot 2-3 skits a day,” she mentioned.
She is hopeful of Malawi’s future in comedy as the country has the potential.
But the Degree in Business Administration holder from Exploits University is calling on the corporate world to support Malawi art.
“Art is fun. Therefore, I hope companies and organisations can embrace my art and that of others and leverage it to promote their products and services.
“To my existing and prospective fans, I urge them to subscribe to my social media pages on Facebook and You Tube to enjoy my weekly clips and more from the Vilekeke Republic,” she said.