If you’re an avid fan of local television music shows, the name Jahlive is synonymous with a number of music videos. He is one of the renowned music video producers the country has seen rise through the ranks in a short time.
With no prior training in the field, Jahlive’s works on screen are defined by a signature of good camera angling, creativity, special effects, good editing and good video storyline. And in just three years, his achievements are innumerable. Fresh from Makerere University in 2007 as a graduate of Human Resource Management, he did exactly what graduates do – job-hunt.
He eventually landed one, but as a person interested in the arts, he found sitting in an office too boring and he quit after only two months. A self-confessed mummy’s boy, the only person he didn’t want to disappoint with this decision was his mother, who was supportive of him after a long punch-up over quitting a corporate job for producing music videos. He came up with the name Jahlive (God lives) to show his parents that he was still on the right track. With a strong veneration of Bob Marley, he decided to use the phrase ‘Jah’ for God, and the rest is history.
Born Frank Mugerwa, 28 years ago in Makindye, he refers to himself as a “child of television”, which he watched in big quantities that have come in handy in his line of business. He set out to bring innovation to a field which before his time was struggling with a few producers like Deddac, Centrix, DCR, and a few others. In 2009, he entered the limelight with Rabadaba’s Bwekiri, which enjoyed massive television play and opened doors for him.
Since then, he has produced and directed more than 300 music videos for artistes throughout East Africa. And as he grows older in the business, he is specializing more in directing than producing.
“Since we are trying to map our videos onto the global scene, more creativity is needed and one cannot take on all the roles of director, producer, script writer, storyboard engineer – which is the case in Uganda,” he says.
Drawing a distinction between our local videos and those from countries such as South Africa and Nigeria which make it to international networks like MTV, he argues, “Our artistes fear to invest in their products, yet sometimes the process involves using state-of-the-art technology not available in the country.” However, as a toast to his success, two of his productions have made it to MTV: On My Mind by S.G (from Rwanda) and Clothes Off by Michael Ross, which raised moral eyebrows and was dubbed ‘too sexist’.
He argues that financing matters a lot in production of a music video.
An artiste has to part with between Shs 1m and Shs 10m, to have a good product and those who can’t afford that, end up with mere photographs played as videos, a problem still daunting the quality of our music videos. Jahlive also cites lack of better equipment, poverty (many artistes cannot afford good quality video shoots) and the few up-to-standard locations which are sometimes charged for exorbitantly.
In the same industry dominated by other multi-talented fresh stars like Bashir Lukyamuzi – Badi, Kim XP, Deddac, Saint Jude, and others, it takes a man of steel to continue wheeling with his head high above the water. His other famous productions include; Taxi Money, Five Star Girl, Ngenda Mumaaso, Heart Attack, Mukama – all by Goodlyfe; Omukwano Gunyuma by Samalie Matovu, Songa Mbele by Alpha, as well as Eddy Kenzo’s famous 2010 hit, Stamina.