Joram Muzira’s name is steadily becoming a big name in Uganda’s fashion industry. He runs one of the biggest modeling agencies in Kampala and is a fashion producer with a deep-rooted passion.
Kampala, Uganda | Agnes E Nantaba | He has groomed over five models currently working internationally, including Aamito Stacie Lagum who is best known for being the winner of the first season of Africa’s Next Top Model, Patricia Akello, and Paul Mwesigwa. Muzira says the presence of his models on the international scene has changed the face of Ugandan modeling as people now realise that modeling is not only a hobby but can become a career.
“It can take you around the globe as well as pay your bills,” he says.
Muzira worked with Ziper Modeling Agency and African Woman Magazine under Sylvia Owori and says he went through numerous rejections because of his skinny body. That is when he was advised to become a model scout instead. He says the comment was “one of the harshest” he endured but he also kept volunteering at exhibitions for designers like Santa Anzo, Sylvia Owori or Stella Atal. He says he did even the smallest tasks offered; like dressing up models.
This meant balancing school as Makerere University student of Urban Planning, working as a waiter at Design Agenda, and also scouting models for Ziper modeling Agency. At the university, each skinny girl that he would spot and convince ended up at African Woman and some of them would get considered.
In 2012, Sylvia Owori was organising a major fashion show at a time when one of her strong pillars quit. Muzira was recommended to fill the gap of scouting, training and casting the models. It also meant he finally got to meet Sylvia Owori in person.
Over 350 models turned up but Muzira could take up only 50 and Owori was impressed with his work; making him the producer of the 2012 ‘Forever love’ fashion show for diplomats. Since some of the girls did not have a manager, Muzira took up the role. One of these was Aamito. He established Joram Model Management (JMM) the same year and says he was lucky to start at a time when fashion shows were happening constantly.
“The beginning was a learning point,” he says, “Without knowledge of the business side; it was purely driven by passion.”
Social media and television fashion shows were his greatest training tools. He studied the work of big agencies in New York for ideas on how they manage, represent and package models.
In 2013, the Africa’s next top model contest excluded Uganda, but some ambitious girls; like Aamito travelled to Kenya for auditions. That is when Aamito emerged among the top ten and was selected to go to Cape Town, South Africa, to compete at the next level where she emerged winner.
Aamito’s win marked a new beginning for JMM. For female models, Muzira looks out for girls above 5ft/9 inches tall and hip size should not exceed 34, butt size between 30-32 and waist between 26-24cm. He currently manages 50 models with several other freelancers, including 20 South Sudanese nationals.
“The international world wants dark and unique which sets you apart, which is why south Sudan is leading for the models,” he says. At JMM, Muzira has divisions for kids, commercial, and those targeting the international scene.
Muzira says he is fiercely independent because of his upbringing.
“I am a cocktail of personalities because of the way I was raised and I am thankful for the entire journey and all the homes that I was raised in because it was a journey to learn to be independent,” he says.
He was only three years old when his father, Dr. Muzira Eriab Ngobi Geseri died and his mother Muzira Ndere died a few months after. He says the life of the wealthy they had known quickly faded as he and three siblings were pushed from town to rural village. Fortunately, school fees were catered for by investments their father had made. Still, life was a struggle for other basics. They also had to be moved from relative to relative and home to home.