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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 October, 2003, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
Arnie steals Ugandan thunder
By Abraham Odeke
BBC, Malaba, eastern Uganda

Ugandans are celebrating the 41st anniversary of their country's independence from Britain.

But in the east of the country, film operators are instead celebrating the California election victory of the film star Arnold Schwarzenegger with free video shows that have attracted hundreds of revellers to video halls.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Schwarzenegger is among Uganda's favourite stars
Arnold Schwarzenegger is the newly elected Governor of California in the United States. The video operators attribute their business success to Schwarzenegger's good films.

The commercial video operators in the busy towns of Malaba, Busia, and Tororo in eastern Uganda are not known for being generous people.

They usually throw out even the members of their families who sneak into the video halls without buying the tickets for the shows.

But they surprised everybody with their offer of free shows.

Film-goers' favourite

All the films being screened star Arnold Schwarzenegger - a favourite of young and old film-goers in eastern Uganda, who has won the hearts of his fans by successfully venturing into the field of politics.

The video operators say their decision to offer the free shows is in honour of the new governor of California and the brain behind films like Terminator, and Collateral Damage which have continued to attract more customers to the video halls and bring cash to the video operators.

A member of the Private Video Operators Association in Busia town said, "I communicated to my counterparts in other towns that we should celebrate Schwarzenegger's victory in a special way today and I am happy that my counterparts had no objection to my suggestion".

And when I visited some of the video halls in Busia and Malaba I saw special hand-written notices pinned above the colour portraits of Arnold Schwarzenegger at the main entrances to the video halls.

At the Ofinya Cultural Centre Cinema Hall located in the western side of Malaba, the message to the video-goers was: "Come and celebrate our independence day anniversary free of charge with our tough man Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Master of the Universe and the new governor of California".




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Richard Forrest
"The people of California voted in their millions for Arnold"



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