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Namakula, woman with many hands

Halima Namakula, a renowned music artist, founder and director of Beat fm, proprietor of No-End Entertainment, African DIVA Award life Achievement winner 2009 and founder of Women at Work International co-hosts ‘Akasaale k’omukwano’ on Bukedde television.

This year, she also won the Woman Achiever of the Year Award 2011 on Women’s Day. Little was known about her while she was an actress in a local drama series Bibaawo until she released a hit album ‘Ekimbeewo’ in 1998. Johnson Grace Maganja had a one-on-one with her:

Who is Halima Namakula?

Halima is a daughter to Afuwa Namudda and Hajati Musitwa from Kibibi. She was born in Mulago, Kampala. She comes from a large extended family but is the 6th among seven children from her family.

She was once married to Sam Semaala. She has four children and two adopted children.

How do you juggle being a mother, musician, director and television presenter?

I was brought up by a single mother. I learnt a lot from her because she sold food to construction workers, worked in a bar and was also a full-time mother. She encouraged me to always work hard; so, I draw my strength and inspiration from her.

Who inspired you to join the music industry?

It was during one of my trips from the US when I had come to record my son Hamdee’s music that he encouraged me to start singing.

It’s been long since we last heard from you on the music scene. What’s in store?

I haven’t quit singing; I’m about to release my 7th album with about 7-10 songs. I write all my songs and I work with Kiwuuwa, Steve Jean, Shadrack and Fofo Lokata, among other music producers.

Music in Uganda is growing at a fast pace, although the music copyright law hasn’t been fully implemented.

What does winning the Woman Achiever of the year 2011 award mean to you?

When I do any work in the community, I don’t expect to get credit for it. Therefore, winning the award means that people appreciate my work and this gives me more energy to work harder.

What can you tell us about Women at Work International?

It is an NGO I founded in 2004. It’s located along Mawanda road. Its major objective is to improve women’s health and well-being. I believe in behavioural change in society. It is comprised of 32 members and of these nine are active members. Men and women are free to register and become members.

They have helped over 800 sex workers through counselling, 30% of whom have been helped to get jobs. We have Hana’s Club at the organization. It teaches young girls how to relate and work in life.

Where do you get your funding?

We have mainly got funding from UHMG, PSI and USAID, among many others.

What challenges have you faced running Women at Work International?

Getting enough funds to run the day-to-day activities of the organisation has been a struggle.

What future plans do you have for the organisation?

We are going to start fundraising for hospitals such as Hima hospital. We are also planning to improve on the conditions of labour wards in hospitals and start income-generating activities at household level.

How do you spend your free time?

I hang out with my friends Hajati Sarah Tonda, Annie Babinaga and Ssekito Ntale at Faze 2 for tea in the evenings. I also like watching movies and soaps.

How do you manage your health?

Staying happy is very important in life. I don’t take alcohol. I drink lots of water, eat all types of food and do some little exercise. I also go for holidays in the US, Belgium and UK.

What advice would you give to young musicians?

What you sow is what you reap. For the young women, they should not only use their bodies to dance but also use their voices to fully exploit their potential. As for the young boys they should desist peer pressure.

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