Mariam Ndagire: A woman of many artistic talents
Popularly known for her great contribution to both the music and acting industries in Uganda, Mariam Ndagire is revered as a legend in the creative arts in Uganda. She is a renowned Ugandan female singer, entertainer, actress, playwright, film director, and film producer.
Born to Sarah Nabbutto and Buganda’s Prince Kizito Ssegamwenge on 16 May 1971 in Kampala, she attended Buganda Road Primary School and Trinity College Nabbingo for High School. At the tender age of 15, Ndagire started fulfilling her dream as a theatre actress while attending Kampala High School. She later attained a Diploma in Marketing from Makerere University Business School as well as a Diploma in Music Dance and Drama from Makerere University.
In 1987, she joined the Black Pearls of Omugave Ndugwa, where she starred in several plays up until 1993. During this time, she hit a milestone in her career as she co-wrote her first play titled “Engabo Y’addako”. Along with Kato Lubwama and Ahraf Simwogerere, Ndagire then went on to form a separate group named the Diamonds’ Ensemble where several plays were written and acted.
With regards to her music career, Ndagire started out in 1991 with a performance in a musical play at the National Theatre under Black Pearls Omugave Ndugwa.
In later years, Ndagire released a number of music albums with a number of popular tunes hitting the music waves which were played widely in Uganda. Some of her popular hit albums are;
- Mulongo Wange (1997)
- Bamugamba (1998)
- Onkyaye (2000)
- Nkusibiddawo (2001)
- Kamuwaane (2002)
- Abakazi Twalaba (2003)
- Akulimbalimba (2004)
- Akalaboko (2007)
- Maama (2007)
- Byonna Twala (2009)
- Majangwa (2009)
- Oly’omu (2012)
- Kiki Onvuma (2014)
- Kibun’omu (2016)
Ndagire has also been a revolutionary in Uganda’s film industry and has on several occasions been recognised for her work. In 2007, she directed Down This Road I Walk, which was her first feature movie.
She has directed some popular movies and TV shows that have been well received by the audience in Uganda. Some of these include Tendo Sisters, Strength of a Stranger, Dear Mum, Ba-Aunt, Our Perfect Wedding (a reality TV Show), My Husband’s Wife and Nsaali in 2017 which was one of the Biggest Movies of the Year among many others.
Her contribution and passion for music was also amplified when she started a new training workshop for filmmakers at her centre, the Mariam Ndagire Film and Performing Arts Centre. At this centre, filmmakers are trained to perfect their craft through workshops held every year. Some of the notable participants at these workshops are popular actress Sarah Kisauzi Sentongo and screen writer Usama Mukwaya.
More recently, renowned musician Irene Namatovu was recognised and awarded an honorary award by Ndagire through the Institute for her contribution to the Ugandan music industry. She also appreciated Namatovu for being a role model for young musicians.
Through the years, Ndagire’s good work has been recognised through nominations and awards.
For her popular series Ba-Aunt, Ndagire won the Best TV drama title in the Pearl International Film Festival in 2017. In 2021, My Husband’s Wife was awarded as the Best Ugandan Feature Film still at the Pearl International Film Festival.
Ndagire was appointed by Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards AMVCA to be part of the jury in 2015 while she was appointed as a committee member of the Grand Jury of the Golden Movie Awards Africa in 2019.
Without a doubt, Mariam Ndagire continues to grow her footprint in the arts world in Uganda. She has also mentored a number of upcoming talents in the industry through her institute and the arts industry continues to grow as a result.