If you know Bebe Cool’s song Kabulengane, then you have in a way met YESE OMAN RAFIKI, 38, the man who wrote it.
Rafiki left business computing to venture into songwriting and producing, which now he is gratefully for. Oman Rafiki, real name, Joshua Kiberu, has worked with many musicians both local and international. The Route Entertainment CEO told Quick Talk about his love for music, among other things.
Two years without performing! How have these Covid-19 times treated you, Rafiki?
Covid-19 has been the last negative testimony about my life, being that I lost my mother – a preacher and a strong woman of God [Last June, Rafiki’s mother succumbed to Covid-19]. However, I managed to release my album, National ID (Endagamuntu).
So sorry for your loss, bro! Now, tell me about Yese Oman Rafiki...
My real name is Joshua Kiberu, born in Makindye [to Rebecca and John Kyeyune]. I am a graduate of business computing from Makerere University Business School. I am a professional songwriter, musician and [CEO of] Route Entertainment. I am an advertisement guy, a content creator and a winner [someone knows how to not sell himself short!]
What pushed you away from computing, to music?
Music is the business I anticipate to grow with and my heart has always taken me in this direction. Singing feels like a fulfillment of a life dream. I love inspiring the world through music and poetry.
You were at GoodLyfe for a while, weren’t you?
I used to be their studio manager and a backup vocalist, working alongside Eli Arkhis music. [But] I have also worked with so many talents, both local and international, such as Mr Eazi, Sauti Sol... And locally I have worked with Radio and Weasel, Jose Chameleone, Bebe Cool, Vinka and Irene Ntale, among others.
You were once with Swangz Avenue, what happened; why did you leave?
Swangz Avenue is the leading music label in Uganda currently. Being affiliated to it has given me endless opportunities to work with great artistes and producers across the world, the likes of Eli Arkhis music and Lizer classic. I am forever an affiliate. Now I work under Route Entertainment; that’s where I am signed too now.
What was the first song you ever did?
My first song was Lumbasse.
And where do you get the inspiration?
I get inspiration from society and love. I read the Bible and books of writers who have come before me.
Kabulengane was an interesting song and a huge hit for Bebe Cool. What influenced your penning it?
Bebe Cool is an energetic performer. I based on African Ganda style to come up with Kabulengane, to present him as the Muganda he is.
I have never understood why singers always take the credit for big hits and little is known about the writers and producers!
The music industry is yet to fix the copyright issues across the whole system. We lack a lot in coverage.
So, what’s your current project and what is it all about?
I am currently pushing and promoting the National ID album. I launched my singing career this year [never too late to
become a super star...] National ID is a 15-track album.