A Ugandan martial arts enthusiast who learned from kung fu masters in China aims to spread kung fu skills and culture in his home country and take it around Africa, starting from his own daughter.
Kung fu, a primarily unarmed martial art, has gained popularity in various parts of the world.
A warm-up exercise for Hasifah Nakirijja was in progress. At only five years of age, the little girl was already able to try out new kung fu techniques.
“Kung fu helps me in self-defense and also to keep my body physically fit,” she said.
Nakirijja wanted to become an actress. But to achieve her goal, she needs more time and techniques. If she makes it into the movie industry, she’ll be following in the footsteps of her father Mansour Ssejjemba, a kung fu specialist and an actor.
“Kung fu has helped us a lot in Uganda’s film industry, more especially in movies. I am a film actor too, she also dreams of becoming a movie star,” Ssejjemba said.
Under her father’s guidance, Nakirijja has been trained in the Gong Li Quan (Force and Skill Boxing), a practical style of martial arts that strengthens both physical strength and health-preserving methods.
In 2017, Ssejjemba visited the Shaolin Temple, a renowned Chinese temple recognized as the birthplace of Chan Buddhism and the cradle of Shaolin Kung Fu in central China’s Henan Province, and was made a kung fu ambassador for Africa.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted his training program, but that also gave him time to spread the kung fu techniques and disciplines he learnt to a much larger audience.
“These two years have been so challenging because we have the COVID-19 pandemic. It has affected our training sessions,” Ssejjemba said.
Mansour has so far trained 24 people in Kampala, capital of Uganda, and his dream is to boost kung fu’s popularity across the country, as well as the entire African continent.