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intro to ugandan pop culture. lesson 1: marimar

June 26, 2011

When entering a new culture, I would argue that a healthy grasp on pop culture is nearly as important as language learning or mastering cultural faux pas.  It’s the stuff of small talk, the chitchat at the atm, the humor that breaks the ice.  I’ve been studying up, so indulge me while I share.

The popular TV station in Uganda broadcasts everything from local news to stand-up comedy to Desperate Housewives. There always seems, however, to be one show that sticks out from the rest, and the favorites run in cycles.  When I first arrived, it was an East African spinoff of American Idol (that is a whole other post).   These days, MariMar is all the rage.

MariMar is a Filipino soap opera, and let. me. tell you.  It’s a spellbinder.  The Sisters are much more dedicated followers of the series than I, so whenever I tune in they have to give me a rundown of the latest developments to bring me up to speed.  These days, though, the plot is really heating up and I hardly miss an episode.  You see, MariMar, also known by her alias, Bella, just ran into her ex-husband Sergio at a masquerade ball, but Bella won’t tell Sergio that she is actually MariMar because she thinks he cheated on her with her best friend and that’s why she left him.  But he really didn’t cheat on her and now he wants to win her back but all his friends think he is crazy for thinking Bella is actually MariMar.  And on top of that, his dad really is going crazy. Whew.  What WILL Sergio do??

Fun fact:  while the series is produced in the Philippines, it is actually a remake of a Mexican telenovela (and dubbed over in English when aired in Uganda.)  Globalization at its finest.  The English voiceovers are really the kicker that make it well worth your time to watch.  That, and the fact that all the animals in the show have human voices and their own separate animal world storyline.  Fifi totally has the hots for Pulgoso.

So there you have it – intro to Ugandan pop culture, lesson one.  Enjoy this little snippet of my weekly entertainment:

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2011 9:32 pm

    I just signed up for via my neighbor’s fan.tas.tic garage sale yesterday (who knew Al Jazeera’s broadcasting from Minot, North Dakota?), so I’ll be browsing for MariMar!

  2. Pop permalink
    June 26, 2011 9:35 pm

    Delightful!!!!! When I was a kid in Guatemala, we all watched Peyton Place (dubbed in spanish). Abuela would not missed an episode. Latter it was Betty la Fea wich eventually made it into American prime time. I have to admit that from time to time I followed EL Chaka, a narco novela in the spanish channel. 😉

  3. yolanda permalink
    June 27, 2011 6:34 am

    my landladies watch indian soaps, but dubbed into french. i think soaps from anywhere, dubbed into any language, have to have a bit of the same je ne sais quoi. we only get one (government) tv channel, so it’s all thanks to pirated dvds. which means that they never watch only one episode. one evening i went over and was very confused about how plot had advanced – it turns out that one aspirant (she’ll become a novice on saturday!) had watched about 12 hours of the series that day because the guest house didn’t have any guests…


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