Kayemba Moves Managers Beyond Being Stars’ Bagboys

There must be something special about Ssalongo Geoffrey Ssolo Kayemba.

The man with names ‘too old’ for his age (31) manages great talent including Chris Evans, Pastor Wilson Bugembe, Rema Namakula and Jamila Nakibuuka. He is also into football management where he has overseen the sale of players including Godfrey Walusimbi, Chrysostom Ntambi, Herman Wasswa, and Emma Okwi.

Born in 1983 as the firstborn to Resty Nabumpenje and Francis Jjuuko of Masaka, Kayemba constantly changed schools because he was stubborn.

“While in P.4 I stole my mother’s mingling stick to use as an oar during a school play. My mother who had come to watch the play, instead left very angry and back home, the cane talked,” he recalls.

Yet Kayemba, who spent most of his early years with his grannie Edward Lutwama Ssetaala, credits his difficult childhood for his success. During his S4 vacation, he tried teaching and was paid Shs 13,000 for three months and he swore never to teach again in 2001 he hit the streets of Kampala with just Shs 6,000 given to him by his mother.

“I came to Kampala looking for an uncle’s friend called Matayo Kayondo, who welcomed me although we had not met before. It was from there that I joined Ali Ndaula’s Super Stars. Because of my size (Kayemba was then very short) and flexibility, I became a go-between for men interested in girls in the group and I earned some money from that. I honed the skills I use today from that,” says Kayemba, who later joined Combined Talents.

Excited about being in Kampala, Kayemba even tried to change his name to Diouf D but it did not work out and he dropped it. Soon, “I came up with the idea of starting a video studio and we did Abdu Mulaasi’s Swimming Pool, Farm, and Mathias Walukagga’s Tugende e Namboole,” he recalls.

His breakthrough came while working with DCL’s Ntaro, when Abu Kawenja contracted him to film his Global Fund HIVAids play, The Tunnel. This is when he finally bought his first phone, mattress and other luxuries. After this success, he went on to form DCR Studio with Derrick Mukulu. While with DCR, he met many musicians and his first client was Mariam Namukasa of the Tindatine fame.

Others like Qute Kaye [Ginkeese] and Dr Hilderman [Mazongoto] soon came in.

“I was young but managed them well, although I was doing it unprofessionally. [My long-term friend] Yusuf Nampala suggested we introduce contracts and we registered KY promotions, which we use to-date,” he recalls.

The first musician to sign with KY was David Lutalo with his Kapapaala. The contract was not renewed after 18 months when Lutalo married and the wife assumed all powers over her man. But luck was on Kayemba’s side Pastor Wilson Bugembe signed on soon after Lutalo’s departure.

Bugembe had Mukama Njagala Kkumanya as the hit then (2007) and Judith Babirye had just boycotted the Pearl of Africa Music awards for having a beer company as a sponsor so, Kayemba used that gap to successfully promote the pastor. And when he brought Komawo Eka, they organized a launch that was bought by Musa Kavuma and he has never looked back since.

The two remain close although Bugembe has not been very active lately. In 2008, Kayemba signed Chris Evans on a one-year contract he had just released Rihanna. The song didn’t work out well and Evans left, but he soon returned and renewed his contract. They are still together.

Kayemba now also manages Rema Namakula whom he persuaded to leave Bebe Cool’s Gagamel. Kayemba says managing a musician is not easy as many of them don’t respect their managers. He says in the early days a Ugandan manager to a musician was in effect a bagboy and the person who delivered CDs to the DJ’s box.

“It is good that now people want to deal with managers rather than the musician, but this has come after a struggle,” he says.

Kayemba negotiates on behalf of his artistes and does most of the donkeywork on contracts for shows and sponsorship deals. For each singer’s good fortunes, Kayemba earns a commission he refuses to disclose.

Source : The Observer

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