Kasozi’s gangs of Kampala

Saturday February 13 2010

Essence Kasozi who plays con woman Nankya. Photo/FILE

The Ugandan feature film titled Fishing: the Little Stone, which takes a look at the murky, violent criminal underworld in the capital, Kampala, could soon appear at an international film festival near you.

The movie, which premiered at the Theatre La Bonita in December, according to director Kaz Kasozi, will be taken on tour of the country in order to reach the widest possible audience, starting with the location of the shoot.

Based on a story about a group of thieves in Kampala, it follows the life of Nankya (Essence Kasozi), the co-producer and lead actress, a divorced mother of one estranged from her con man ex-husband, Hood (Dick Kitamirike).

A ghetto dweller, she is a con woman and petty thief who steals from well-to-do men in the city for survival.

Nankya, who seems to earn money from crime but cannot pay her rent, steals from Smart (Eddie Masanso), another con artist, who befriends her and recruits her into a gang of thieves, and together they plan to steal a valuable stone from a wealthy individual.

The gang of four men and one woman execute their crime but things start going wrong when they scheme to cheat each other out of the loot instead of sharing the proceeds of its sale.


Nankya’s daughter is kidnapped in the process and she has to outwit her accomplices to save herself and her daughter.

Smart is also killed as they fight over the valuable stone with Nankya and the stone ends up with another gang member who had not shown interest in the first place.

Fishing: the Little Stone was shot on location in the Kampala surburbs of Kibuli and Kabalagala; in the ghettos of Kikubamutwe (kataba) and Lubowa; in the city centre; in Kansanga Nabutiti zone; in the village towns of Kasana and Wobulenzi and in the village of Nakaseeta in Luweero.

“It was important to use real locations to maintain a high degree of realism,” the script writer/director and co-producer Kaz Kasozi said.

The movie evokes memories of John Steinbeck’s book titled The Pearl, in which Kino, a poor Indian/Mexican pearl diver, enjoys a simple life with his wife, Juana, and their baby, Coyotito. The baby is bitten by a scorpion and falls ill, but the doctors refuse to treat him.

Things begin looking up when Kino discovers a huge, beautiful pearl one day.

Incredulous, Kino howls with joy, and suddenly, everyone in La Paz is interested in his family and the pearl.

Greed contaminates their once simple way of life, as Kino tries to get 50,000 pesos for a pearl that the dealers only wish to pay one thousand for.

The pearl leads Kino to corruption, and he slits the throat of a man’s who attempts to take the pearl from him.

Eventually the price of the pearl is higher than they imagined; it is paid for with Coyotito’s blood.

Remorseful and sorrowful, Kino returns to La Paz and throws the pearl back into the ocean.

Although Kaz has heard of The Pearl, he has not read it.

Due to the lack of conventional film theatres, the producers are planning to tour Uganda with the film in order to reach the widest possible audience, starting with the areas in which the film was shot. The movie will be screened in social halls .

The producers of the film, which premiered at a number of cinemas in Kampala, including Theatre La Bonita and Cineplex, plan to take it to international film festivals, especially in Europe.

The producers have decided not to give the launch red-carpet treatment, preferring to spend on talent instead.

“I have seen Ugandan film premiers given red-carpet treatment, only to realise that the event is longer than the film itself. We want to experiment and discover how much people value and spend on movies,” Kaz says.

“There is lack of commitment among actors in Uganda, but it seems there is talent in this young film industry,” Kaz observed.