It’s hard to peg a single verb to her personality. Not only because she is new in Kenya, but more because, she radiates a personality of labile goodness. Enter — Nancy Kacungira — the new kid on the Kenyan screens.
“I think I am just a simple person trying to make a difference within my sphere of life,” she says coyly.
She is cautious about fame. As such, she says she is down-to-earth, choosing not to soak in the praise and adulation — the worldwide currency for famous personalities. It’s her first interview in the country, and probably the first over a mug of icy water.
“It’s really hard for me to describe myself like you want me to,” she confesses.
And so I begin to unearth layers and contours in her life journey so far.
Nancy was born and raised in Tanzania to Ugandan parents. She says she has always been an introvert. She attended primary school at a small missionary school in Tanzania, learning in a class that had about 15 pupils. Afterwards, together with her sister, they moved to Uganda for their ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels.
After she cleared high school, Nancy she joined Makerere University for a degree in Industrial and Fine Art. Four years were soon over and quick. She then successfully applied for a partial Master scholarship at Leeds University in the United Kingdom to study Communication.
Once done with her Masters degree, Nancy had to decide whether to remain in Britain or come back to Africa. Her thinking curve pointed back home. On arrival, with her maverick entrepreneurial mind, she began a business; an agency that provided digital branding for clients. Nancy had always been astute growing up. She was a dreamer even in her nascent years. It’s easy to conclude so because, even though she didn’t quite need to, she worked a side job (as a graphics designer) from the time she was in high school and even when she was at Makerere.
“I worked because I wanted to,” she says. “I didn’t feel overstretched or too much strain; I guess it’s because I loved doing what I did. It kept myself busy enough and cancelled out wasting time.”
You would think that intertwining school and a job would increase the odds against her performance but you would be wrong. She was always ahead of the pack; attaining good grades and graduating with a first class Bachelor’s degree, as well as attaining distinction on completing her Masters degree.
As an undergraduate student at Makerere, Nancy also worked as a radio presenter for a Christian station – Uganda’s Power FM. Like a messenger on a mission to accomplish tasks, Nancy trudged on and would eventually find her way to TV screens.
DEBUT ON TV
It’s oxymoronic to know that she never pictured herself in front of a blaring studio camera. “I used to think that TV is for perfect people,” she says adding, “I don’t actually think of myself in those terms. Growing up, I always knew that I am not my face or anything outwardly – I believe a person is who they are and what they possess in their brains.”
While her internal crystal ball dripped with doubt, fate was busy clearing the path her life would take in the months to follow. When she came back from Britain, Nancy went back to presenting on radio, while at the same time managing her new branding business. It was while she presented on radio that her purr would catch the attention of the human resource manager at NTV Uganda.
“I received a call asking me to join and read news on TV and accepted the challenge. The first months were full of anxiety and trepidation as I learnt the skills and mastered the art. It wasn’t easy switching from radio because I was moving into a different platform,” Nancy divulges.
In a twist of fate, Nancy went through the proverbial ‘baptism by fire’, as she would end up reading news earlier than she was scheduled. “The country was going through an election and a lot was happening. I was told I was going on air, albeit earlier than intended, and all I could do is pray and ask God to make it a success. It actually went well though at times when I watch the clip, I can’t help but laugh at myself.”
Nancy became an instant darling to news-watchers in the country last year when just before Christmas, she read her first bulletin on KTN on December 20.
She says: “TV is an exciting privilege. For me it’s a pact I have with my audience. They tune in to watch the bulletin and I feel obliged to give them the best.”
All through the interview, Nancy’s African visage and outlook screams loud in the silence of the atmosphere. Her hair is dark and carries the lithe, silky, and African properties that many chose to camouflage in coiffured weave. Her face, has minimal or almost no make-up, and her dark-chocolate skin is a testimony that complexion is nothing more than a façade.
In her svelte stature, Nancy has enough Midas magic to turn heads. Is she seeing anyone?
“I knew that was coming,” she laughs it off before composing herself to answer. “No! I am single and not ready to mingle. It’s not the right time for me yet. I take relationships and marriage very seriously and hence, I don’t play around with those.”
She has a bulletin to read in three hours, and so I have to let her strut off back to the screens and to her reserved life.
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