Of legends and fans

33

In 2014,We were looking for a way to re-invent our music+poetry event, “Croak and rhyme.” It had been an unexpected success the year before and we needed to be more innovative.

One night, during a 4040 meeting at (now defunct😳) Cee cees restaurant,we made a list of possible artists, mostly the ones who seemed unreachable because that’s the only way we would have an edge.

Then we came up with the name “Maddox Sematimba” and suddenly there was no need for further debate. He was ‘the one’ and we needed to get him.

Some context; At the time, Maddox was living a quiet life and had not performed in ages. In fact, it was not easy to track him down because it did not seem like he wanted to be found.

For some reason, we love a challenge and the search began during that very meeting as people called people, who called other people that could lead us to the main man.

Our very own ‘Nalumansi’ took the lead on this. After several days of searching,connecting dots and a road trip to Busabala, he was tracked down. The next task was to convince him to get onto the big stage. He accepted😊

We had the headline act we were looking for and nothing could possibly go wrong, right? Wrong.
While he had many fans and 4040 was slowly growing its numbers, the cost of putting on the show was quite high. Not to mention the background drama that comes with venues and difficult people who are always looking to give a problem for every solution😥

Nonetheless, we persevered. Many other amazing musicians got on board and all agreed to perform at no cost. In fact, after making our ‘dream list,’ the only factor that would get someone off the list was their inability to accept our (zero) rates.
We didn’t hold it against them, we just couldn’t afford them and were open about it.

D-day arrived and we prayed for a successful show despite the anxiety.
That event was arguably the best organised we have had in recent times Incidentally, other people in the entertainment industry also noticed this.
A small dedicated team had put it together, under the outstanding stewardship of Nalumansi. The results showed.
Just before Maddox got on stage, Collin stood beside me assuring me that Maddox would never come for this event. We argued although I knew very well that Maddox was already in the building (technically in the gardens, at the museum)
While we were having this argument, the man himself got on stage. Walalala! Collin disappeared without a word. I, too ran to the front, to get a better view. It was the first and last performance I watched that night. The performers did a commendable job and then there was Maddox.

 


His laid back attitude as he belted those lyrics, that moment when he gave Nalumansi a shout out and the 4040 team burst into laughter wherever they were; the pause when the DJ played a beat and Maddox told him to please move on swiftly to another song; when Frank got onto the stage and sang with Maddox word for word, a if he had been part of rehearsals; it was all beautiful!
We were in the presence of a legend and he got everyone together, effortlessly.

We didn’t raise much from that event. In fact it the surplus was nominal but we did a lot more, things can’t be priced even if we tried.

Since then, Maddox has performed at several events and even released a music video after a long hiatus.
In 2015, a few friends and I tracked him down at a random bar in Munyonyo, to pay homage. By 1a.m, the stage was still rife with ‘curtain raisers.’ We sang along to songs we had never heard, got to know new artists and yawned from time to time as we awaited the presence of “our man.” We later went backstage to introduce ourselves and ask why he wasn’t coming on stage. “Mani promoter y’atutegeka..” he explained.
I really dislike starting things and not accomplishing them so I could not imagine going back home without watching at least one song.
Meanwhile, all of us stayed in different parts of Kampala and only one of us had a car that we were planning to squeeze into. This was before omulembe gwa uber😦
I remember my neighbour’s reaction vividly as we got up to leave. “Sweetie naawe togenda b’ano abalala babowa.” (Please don’t leave, these other attendees are boring)
I smiled.

I can’t say that we re-awakened his career but I would like to believe that our genuine hope, belief and interest in him sparked something within his heart, to remind him how special he is.

I hope he can release an album or two before retiring. I look forward to purchasing the copies and getting as many people to do the same. He has an upcoming show meanwhile. Everyone needs to watch him in action at least once.

Lights, Camera, Action

19

As a child, I was anything but timid.
I found my true-self when I hit the stage.
MDD (Music Dance and Drama *Musilu Ddala Ddala😛* was my calling. At the time it didn’t matter that your voice didn’t sound even remotely like Adele’s. I know this because I got away with solo performances and I can’t even sing to get free rolex😭
I played local instruments in the instrumentals, I participated in pretty much every traditional dance, the folk songs and even performed poetry.
I loved acting the most.
All this was at school during class competitions and later when I joined the School choir.

Over the weekends, my brother  and I provided some back up dancing services to live bands. You didn’t need to call our manager or book in advance. We just showed up with our folks and got in formation shortly after. We were reliable like that.
We also got paid handsomely by revellers. That was until mum kept the money for us😒
I am sure you know how that story ends.
When we asked for our $$, we were given a list of all the things we had not paid for since leaving the womb😞

 

Fast forward to adulthood.
I dislike crowds. Along the way I lost the childhood innocence and became self conscious. I become shy even when everything in me tells me there is no reason to be and getting on stage is not fun for me anymore. It is scary.
Younger me would definitely scoff at this boring version.😳

All my dreams of Actor-Model-Writer-Airhostess-Lawyer-Journalist-Writer again (in that order, I think) have not quite materialised.

Nonetheless, I would like to believe every stage along the way prepared me for something else. Many of my public speaking sessions are probably fueled by that past acting spark to be honest. I get up intimidated by the crowd, anxious,nauseous, stomach rumbling and somehow manage to speak sense (or so I hope) and leave without fainting. Little miracles those ones.

Don’t get me started on this 5 year journey of ‘begging.’ It is difficult for me to even ask a friend (not stranger or acquaintance) to lend me a small sum of money let alone give me something I can’t return. And what do I have here? A 5-year ‘career’ in hounding friends, acquaintances, strangers and the internet world at large to give,give,give-time,resources, skills, everything!😮

I recently met someone (with whom I am acquainted) on the street and they asked “What are you collecting money for this time?” I chocked a little, afterwhich I responded, “Good afternoon, how are you?”
Basically,his mind told him that the greeting I now deserve is “How much do you want?”

Most of this journey has been filled with ironies, in different shades.
We are complex, ever-changing and if we embrace change, it opens our eyes,minds and hearts to the multiple things that we can be, that we can become. We need to allow ourselves to change, to grow, to learn.

Human beings are not one-dimensional;we are multi-faceted; not even what you see on the surface is a representation of who someone truly is.
We can be weak and strong; we can be bullies and still be emotional, confident yet anxious and so much more.
There’s so much beauty in being unapologetically authentic.

There’s no use watering down who you are or toning down your awesome because the world isn’t ready. Make them ready💪💃and if they fail to be, their loss😈
On that note;
Perhaps at 68,someone will write a script that will touch my heart and I will hit the stage one more time. Maybe I’ll act the role of a granny in denial, asking her grandchildren to call her “Aunt Essie”
Till then;
Go forth and explore the multiple versions of the amazing soul that is YOU.

He stayed

Story 5: Giving thanks

The Lord my father, my friend my rock, has been part of this journey before I ever dreamt of it, before it began and every step of the way since.
About 4 years ago, I went by *Terry’s office to pick up a few items she wanted us to donate or sell and use returns to fund our projects. I got in, said hello to her workmates and went ahead to sit with her and talk. As I said my goodbyes, she told David (real name) about 4040. He said he knew about us.
He took out his ‘other’ business card and asked me to contact him if we ever needed a public address system for our events. I thanked him and left.


Fast forward, David has provided sounded for pretty much every event since, at no cost.
Imagine that.

Before him, we kept changing service providers and calling in favours. We were afraid to ‘beg’ again and again. One time, a team member, Jack got us equipment from his boss and I later found out it had got messed at one of our events. I was completely crushed and started to panic. I offered to replace it well knowing that we could not even afford it.


Since David swooped in to literally save us, the process has been smooth. Sometimes his team even arrives at the location before we do. He has no airs around him and has never made us feel like second class citizens (which sponsors/donors often do)
Do attend next Friday’s quiz and karaoke night at Yasigi’s. The equipment you will see and ‘hear’ will be from D&J audio, all these years later.
You ought to contact them for all your sound needs. See link

d-n-j-photo

It is evident I shall never ever be able to repay their kindness but it won’t hurt if you can give them business too😊 Might I add, their professionalism is at 💯?
If you bump into David or speak to him, let him know how much we appreciate him, his team and his work. We tell him all the time but it never seems enough.

Especially thanking God for the people he has placed in our lives along this journey.

I had a dream

Last year, we brainstormed during a meeting, out of ideas on whom to headline for Croak and Rhyme, 4040’s annual music fundraiser. The year before, we had surprised many, including ourselves and brought the legendary Maddox Sematimba as our main act. We needed to match up to our own expectations. “What about Sauti Sol?”  we thought. They are terrific musicians and would put up a good show, plus they are in the ‘neighbourhood.’ How would we pull that off? Obviously, we could not afford them. Our ingenious plan was to find an airline to give complimentary tickets, an up-scale hotel to sponsor the accommodation and then we would convince the group to perform at no cost. Easy peasy right? Not.

One of the best and worst things about my team and I is that we dream massive dreams. The more difficult it seems to pull off, the more we want it. We did not go far in this dream. We soon found out that Talent Africa was organising a show in Kampala for the afro-pop group. We took a seat.

The tickets to the show did not come cheap and while I was thinking of which organ to donate, Jem sent me a message that read “ How badly do you want to go for the concert?” I replied with few words and multiple emoticons. She made it happen. I anticipated their performance so much that I literally booed performer X off the stage because his set seemed to be endless. I assured Jem as soon as the band showed up, we would not to be sitting anymore. We’d have to take our spots at the front to dance and scream the night away. We did move when they were finally coming (for real) because at these concerts the main act can ‘appear’ 431 times before they actually show up. They gave a great performance as only they can. They have truly mastered the art of stage presence and performing live. My only regret was that they didn’t stay longer.

****

Last week on Monday morning I tweeted about a dream I had had.

sauti tweet

While I was minding my own business, trying to work on my dissertation, I took a break and went online. I found a message from Joseph saying he’d read my tweet and that I should call a number (which he shared) to continue the conversation he had started. I asked him to quit playing games with my heart right away *hands up if Backstreet boys came to mind as you read that. No? Okay. Moving on *

He assured me that it was real since Sauti sol was coming for a show that weekend. What? Which rock was I living under?I did not even now about the concert. When I checked twitter, I found most of the replies to my tweet were referring to the upcoming Club mega fest where the group was scheduled perform. Here is what followed, I loaded an amount of airtime my phone doesn’t usually subscribe to, said a short prayer and made the phone call to the +254 number. I shared the details with their publicity person and when I was done, I sat on my bed thinking ‘Could this really be?’ That is when I did what any normal person who has faith does. I opened my closet and looked at my vast collection of 40-40 t-shirts.(the only clothing item that is upgraded almost regularly) I chose the t-shirt that I would wear if my request was granted.

faith thanks God

Over the next few days, I asked those who understood my anticipation to pray as I tried, albeit, unsuccessfully to think about other things. Lo and behold! I receive a program and guess which team has a slot with Sauti Sol? Breathe, Esther breathe!, I had to remind myself.

It is one thing to enjoy music by a musician or group of musicians, it is totally different when you realise that they are more than that. To blend talent and compassion for humanity would seem obvious and yet it still remains a reserve for a specific kind of individual. Knowing Sauti sol extends their time and resources to children through their Soma soma initiative struck a chord with me while we dreamt of bringing them to Uganda. As with everything else, God had other plans. He needed them to come and be part of our literacy program (recently christened Angaza which means to shine) that resonates with their belief in education and encouragement of young people to pursue their education.

When Bien, Polycarp, Austin and Savaro met the children, it was magic from the start. They were exhausted from their long weekend of activity but that did not stop them from sharing some love and energy.

band laugh with kids

kids peace

polycarp baby

Sauti kids happy

The group encouraged the children to stay in school and value their teachers and education. They emphasised the importance of finishing school, which they, themselves, did alongside their musical career.  Having met at Upper hill High School themselves, it was easier to illustrate real life examples of some of the benefits from their time together. When Polycarp was introduced as having graduated in Actuarial science, the children were asked if they knew what it meant, there were several resounding ‘Yeses’ in the audience. I was laughing too hard to google the meaning, for my neighbour of course.

high 5

Bien speech

 

Would this session have been complete without some music and dance? Nope! The children got to learn the chorus to Sura yako and the cherry on top was the lipala dance. They were overjoyed and kept singing long after the band had left.

hearty laugh

See this pure happiness! So infectious!

As a friend remarked, the adults might have been more excited than the children. I can’t speak for everyone but how often do you have a dream, literally and watch it come true, before your very eyes- soon after? In my life, I can’t say often and for that, I am all kinds of grateful.

Photo credit: Daron

 

Thank you Sauti Sol 🙂

Keep believing.

Koona dance

This might be the shortest blog post I ever write but even as I type, I am reeling over the content 😀

It is no secret that I go gaga over great music, even better if the beat makes my knees weak and electrifies my system. These songs don’t come very often but when they do *insert those emoticons, you know them*
Anyway, when Ritah recommended I listen to this song, I did not know what to expect. However, I had a good idea because *screams* Sauti Sol!
I shall not say much more, watch the video and then we can discuss our own dance version, yes?

 

 

Watch till the end!

Happy Friday!I know mine is 🙂

Leero weekendi!

 

Xx

I know who I am

For the past couple of weeks, I have been waking up with different songs in my head,constantly; anything from the 90’s to an old hymn. I usually find myself singing or humming for the rest of the day and when my brain is really in overdrive, I question the lyrics word for word. *Do not try this at home*

Today, I started by humming “I know who I am” and it kept ringing in my head. I decided not to give up an opportunity to get up and wiggle in the name of the Lord so I played it on loud speaker and got up to shake it off. It felt good, no it felt great!

How powerful are these words though?!

We are a chosen generation
Called forth to show His excellence
All I require for life, God has given me
And I know who I am

I know who God says I am
What He says I am
Where He says I’m at
I know who I am

I’m walking in power,
I’m walking miracles
I live a life of favor,
‘Cause I know who I am

Oh oh oh, oh oh oh
I know who I am

I am holy, I am righteous oh…
I am so rich, I am beautiful

I’m walking in power,
I’m walking miracles
I live a life of favour,
‘Cause I know who I am

Take a look at me, I’m a wonder
It doesn’t matter what you see now
Can you see His glory?
‘Cause I know who I am

Oh oh oh, oh oh oh
I know who I am

Did you believe them as you read/sang? I know a thing or two about feeling the exact opposite of what the song is telling us to do. What if you don’t know who you are? What if you don’t think you are such a wonder, who is beautiful and living a life of favour? Well, the truth is you are and that you don’t believe it is what we need to work on:)
Sometimes you need to convince your brain/ heart even when it is difficult. I feel like this is the only thing I have been trying to do ALL year <not melodramatic at all,yes? :p> When I take a break from doing it in my life, I try to ‘infect’ the next victim. I really do believe those ‘cliches’ about finding happiness from within, teaching yourself to be positive *etc* can’t all possibly be wrong. We take what is applicable and leave the rest, oui?
I certainly feel pumped up after singing such a positive song or reflecting on a positive message. I don’t know what works for you but if it is, sticky notes on your wall, computer, wall paper, videos or even hanging around positive people, do it, whatever it takes. You owe yourself at least one smile a day (100 would be great too!)
A few things happened to me in this regard, yesterday that I thought I’d share.
First, I received a call from a friend who was reeking of positive vibes. Luckily, she called in the morning so it set the pace. The more we spoke, the happier I felt.
After the call, I decided to watch one TED talk before going on about my day. The one message I can’t get out of my head is “Don’t fake it till you make it, fake it till you become it.” I urge you to watch this for further context. It explains how our body language can shape who we are. I actually found myself subconsciously practicing it. What surprised me even more, was that a couple of hours later, I was faced with a potentially stressful situation together with a friend. We were already dealing with much more pressure so I asked her to walk away with me, and we did. A few minutes later she remarked ” I would still be panicking if you had not been here.”  I smiled. A cocktail of  interrelated events had unfolded for this result.
 Whether you don’t know ‘who you are,’ or you can’t figure out how to get to point B; ‘hoping for the best’ is not a strategy, allow yourself to take little steps even if it is just steps to acceptance/ dealing with the situation and not necessarily solving it completely. Love yourself enough to give yourself time. Probably a tad simplistic but like I said, whatever it takes.

P.s: Dancing helps too so if you can sneak a few minutes of it in, just dance!
Heeeeey Macarena, AAAhAA! 😀
macarena

Market day

Linda and two of her friends had agreed to check out the Brixton market on Friday. Part of the fun is figuring things on one’s own and as such, they did not have a chaperone. Thankfully, this stop was on the same line  as theirs(Think one of train stops on the same route)

Right after they got to the station, they did not know where to go. They decided to  turn left and then come back if they failed to find it (or ask along the way) Voila, the market stood in its glory just a few metres after the lucky turn.

It was easy to tell because of the buzz that surrounded ‘traders.’ In just a couple of minutes, they had seen bananas, avacado, mangoes and pretty much everything that screamed ‘home’ to them. They decided to take a short tour and then return to make some purchases.

Brixton UG

Do you see that flag, do ya?

The walk seemed to uncover something new with every step. The population in this area is mainly of African and Caribbean descent. As an African, you would feel right at home, as the trio did on this cold Saturday afternoon.

They agreed that they needed to taste food from at least one restaurant before they left. The pick was what seemed like an Italian restaurant with a varied menu that had everything from curries to french fries (chips). Milly and Christine settled for chips and chicken, while Linda had a beef curry with rice. The prices are quite pocket friendly. In fact, the train fare, meal and drink were altogether cheaper than a meal at the street where the students live.

They agreed to try out a new restaurant whenever they were in the area. What better way to ‘travel the world’ than through discovering different cuisines, right?

BRIXTON restaurant

Google image

 

Ahead of them lay a cosmetics shop that had everything from weaves to the hair oils they know and love. Milly purchased a few brands she was familiar with and then they were off. Before embarking on the ‘food trail,’ they chanced upon a little Christian bookshop that turned out to be a gem. It had beautiful messages, books and gifts that left the ladies wishing they had a shopping allowance. Milly suggested a group Bible study for the East African team after finding a book that would serve as a guide. Christine and Linda happily welcomed the idea and made their contribution so as to purchase the book.

After spending more time than they should have in the lovely, store, they decided to concentrate of their purpose for the visit. Most of the items were sold at one pound each. For those that seemed greater in quantity like apples, oranges and onions, Milly and Linda split so that each could take home a fair share that could last them a week or more.

brixton food

Google image

While looking for flour, to make chapatis, Linda bumped into a shop attendant of Indian descent. He did not even ask her where she was from and immediately started a conversation.
Him: Gyebale nyabo

Linda: *quizzical look on her face* Kale, naawe gyebale

Him: Olyotya?

Her: Gendi

Him: Oyagala matooke..?
Her: *giggle* Nedda ssebo

After a while, Christine pulled her aside to ask if he indeed knew ‘her language..’ They did not find the flour but Linda made sure to buy some items from him.

It started to rain (as it often does, out of the blue) and the ladies took shelter for a while. The bags were too heavy and too full to stand the burden of umbrellas.

The ride back was quiet after 3 or so odd hours of ‘shopping.’

With Linda still struggling to keep up with the change in time zones, her system dictated a long bath and some rest even though the night was still young.

P.s

  • The shops generally give shopping bags in this area although it is best to carry a big one in which you can throw everything
  • It is also a great entertainment scene, with several bars, Ritzy, picturehouse, the largest independent cinema in the UK, Brixton academy that hosts live shows and live music. There are also several other items ranging from clothing to jewellery, new and second hand. Perhaps Linda will have more to add on this in future.
  • Apparently, Brixton’s crime rate is considerably higher than most areas in and around London.. but there were no incidents to report on while the ladies discovered bits of this vibrant area.