Meet Qute Kaye the cook, Haruna Mubiru the barber. Before your star made it big, what was their bread-earner?Desire Luzinda
So complete has Desire Luzinda’s rise to musical stardom been that it is little remembered that this diva was once a TV show-host on WBS Television.
“I used to host The Weekender on WBS TV and I enjoyed it a lot. But I wanted to become a musician. I could not manage to balance the two, so I had to choose one.”
Patricko Mujuuka's first job was as a taxi conductor and he has never forgotten the experience or stopped learning from the three months' gig. Patricko credits that gig for contributing so much to the radio presenter, stage actor, movie actor and parent he is today. From little things like, dressing 'sharply' to life-changing ones, "There are jobs we can do that look too low for us but they can get us money. Never look down on those jobs."
"I was a conductor during my senior four vacation because I needed something to do. I was staying in Mbuya at the time and my stage was Bugolobi-Coffee," said the popular actor.
Juliana Kanyomozi started out as a radio presenter on Capital FM where she used to argue a lot with Gaetano Kagwa. Although Juliana had started out in the musical group I-Jay with Iryn Namubiru, she was little known beyond Kampala.
It was only after her Capital FM stint and switching to singing in Luganda that she became the phenomenal musical force she is today.
Lady Mariam ‘Tindatiine’
Perhaps because she started out working in a hair saloon, this would explain Lady Mariam’s fascination with those establishments. When the Tindatiine singer is not on the road (these days it seems often to Southern Sudan), she can be found in a saloon in Kampala exploring a new look.
Lady Mariam looks at that time in her life as, “Very challenging. I wanted to be a singer but in Mbarara, if you are young and no one knows you, it is very hard.”
It was under those circumstances that the singer chose the saloon and kept music as a hobby until Tindatiine made her one of the most recognised names in the business.
If Benon of the Benon and Vamposs group has become a self sufficient entity, it should come as no surprise to close watchers of this rather shy and chubby singer. Benon’s first job was in a computer café on Luwum Street during his Senior Six vacation in 2001.
“If I were not into music today, I would probably be networking computers somewhere. I was a systems administrator in that café. Computers have always been very interesting to me.”
That gig left Benon with a greater interest.
“The Macintosh computer is my dream computer. Once you use it, you are hooked!”
And the Macintosh was the computer Benon installed in Swangz Avenue Entertainment once he opened his home based studio in February 2008.
Mr. Mosh might have carved a niche for himself as the voice many musicians want on their reggae tracks and he is doing well emceeing at corporate gigs, but the singer has kept his hand where he started.
Mr. Mosh’s first job was running a phone accessories shop though these days, “I have someone there who manages the shop.”
Selling phones is something Mr. Mosh is proud of because, “It introduced me to so many people who are helping in my career.”
Qute Kaye still has the scars from his first job before his Ginkeese song in 2007 launched him into the musical limelight. The scar is on his left hand. “Oil burnt me while making fries in Grand Café in Amsterdam. I was studying my electrical engineering course in the Netherlands. I was cooking and doubling as a waiter in that place in 2006,” he explains.
The singer still prides in his cooking prowess and an invite to his home comes with a promise to cook up a storm.
Sarah Zawedde has fond memories of her first job.
“Before I graduated from Makerere University, I worked for the National Theatre as the education officer. I was doing a Bachelor of Arts in drama course at campus and because the university works closely with the theatre, I managed to get the job.” She resigned in February 2007 after four years.
“In just my first year of singing full time, I was able to buy my first car,” Zawedde says of her decision.
Jamal Wasswa Rafiki of Anavawa fame had to leave Uganda for Rwanda for his musical career to get any headway. But Jamal insists that was infinitely better than working in his mother’s restaurant which is what he did after school.
Haruna ‘Kitooke’ Mubiru
Right now Haruna Mubiru might be riding high on the success of his Ticket album. However, there was a time when Haruna was merely an errand boy of sorts for the more established Eagles Production stars. He was carrying around their equipment, until they discovered that he also had a voice.
The Ekitooke and Ye Gwe crooner also worked in a hair saloon before he met the Eagles.
Bebe Cool likes to tell of how he made a bargain with his mother after his S6 exams that he would be more successful than his school buddies who were going on to university. To achieve this, Bebe Cool jumped onto a Nairobi-bound bus. It cannot be said to have been a proper first job Bebe Cool got, because he ended up keeping a night watchman company in exchange for him letting him sleep on his seat.
Bebe Cool learnt the basics of survival in harsh Nairobi. Basics he would pass on to Jose Chameleone once he joined him.
Once Chameleone had done his obligatory street stint, he found himself living in Bebe Cool’s sitting room. For both of our musical heavyweights, it is not that they never wanted non musical jobs; they just never got the chance in Nairobi.