Mesach Ssemakula Regrets Dropping Out of School [interview]

When Quick Talk meets Golden band’s Mesach Ssemakula for an interview, she is surprised to see that the Kampala Secondary School-educated musician is greying.

Uh, you have grey hair! How old are you?

Thirty-nine.

Grey hair at 39? It must run in the family.

No, I think it is the stress. But maybe also the kika [clanfamily].

Oooh. What do you consider the biggest achievement of your 39 years?

My fan base.

On that fan base and music, I read a New Vision article that your father wasn’t very impressed with your career choice. What were your parents’ expectations of you?

My father (Fredrick Ssewalu) wanted me to be a doctor.

Bambi, he had to endure seeing you become a mudongo [musician]!

Like all parents [his mother is Marion Nalubega], mine thought that becoming a musician meant I would drink all day and be a failure in life.

Were you musically inclined during your school days?

No. I always felt that I had the talent but I was thinking about girls.

Hahaha, girls!

Yes, like most young men. I only sang once, in a school competition. Tom was supposed to sing in the competition but he fell sick. I told the choir: “You know what? Let me replace him.” They thought I was playing around but they allowed me to perform and it came out beautifully.

What do you wish you had known before joining the industry?

I left school early. My father told me I had to choose between singing and him paying my school fees and I chose music. He stopped paying my school fees [in S2] and I struggled. [Dr] Sarah Nkonge [one of the proprietors of Kampala SS] tried to help me but I dropped out in S5. I tried singing after this but my music wasn’t warmly received. I felt like I should have stayed in school.

I also missed out on an opportunity to be the African ambassador for Astejj International because I lacked a university degree. I had been chosen as ambassador, because of my song Kulika Baby, but the ambassador had to have a degree. I was told to choose another musician in my place and I chose Martin Ojile. He is now a billionaire. [Quick Talk could not find any record of this millionaire Martin Ojile.] I had a golden chance and I missed it.

You have the Golden band, though. What benefits have you enjoyed as a result of being a musician?

I am famous and that opens doors. Also, if I get a problem, five out of ten people who pass by will help me.

If you were a female musician, would you go the extra mile to get attention? You know, would you squeeze into short, tight clothes or derriere-flashing corsets?

I would [dress] decently like Mariam Ndagire or Maureen Nantume.

So, which musicians would you want to tap?

[Laughs] Quick Talk wafa [you are damaged]. No one. I’ve seen enough.

Ah! A man who has seen enough… Are you romantic?

[Laughs and following a thoughtful pause:] I’m a good husband.

What is the most romantic thing you have done?

What is the romantic thing I have done? Let me say pass that one [Yiiii Mesach. Quick Talk is now scared… ]

Ok, what is the most romantic thing that has been done for you?

I wonder whether this is romantic. In my life, I don’t throw birthday parties. I also don’t throw any for my children or the people at home because we are many. Throwing a party for each would not make financial sense.

When I was turning 36, my wife organised a party behind my back. She called my best friend, Sylver Kyagulanyi, who took me home for the party. I got angry, though, because they poured water on me. But when my wife was giving a speech, I realised she had done what she had out of love.

Aww! Away from that, what part of your body do you most dislike?

[Tilting his head and giving Quick Talk a side look. It is one he uses a lot in his videos:] Naye nga nneyagala nnyo? Ndaba ndi ok. [I really love myself. I think I’m ok.] When I look at other people I appreciate myself. No one is 100 per cent but I am 80 per cent.

Ok. What is your favourite colour?

Orange and black. I used to like pink but some people say pink is not for men. If my wife wears pink, I’m ok.

Are you wearing black underwear right now?

No. White [He prefers boxers.]

Oh! What is your favourite food?

I used to enjoy matooke but I now enjoy posho and beans. I also like salads. I used to drink a lot of passion fruit juice but now I am diabetic so, water and watermelon juice are ok. I don’t booze, though my eyes are red and I look like I take marijuana.

Hahaha, you don’t smoke marijuana though, do you?

No. I tried smoking cigarettes in 2003 but stopped.

Which international musician do you most enjoy?

R. Kelly. My best song of his is Storm Is Over. When he came [2010], he didn’t sing it. I was the fifth person to get inside the venue for his show. [R. Kelly is said to have ‘beeped’ Uganda. he performed too few songs, people said.]

And Ugandan?

Mesach Ssemakula.

Outside yourself… .

I respect Chameleone he is a talented boy. I also love Moses Matovu and I enjoyed Frank Mbalire and Philly Lutaaya when I was growing up. The new ones? [Mowzey] Radio sings well. With bands, I like Golden band.

Of course you enjoy Golden band. My final question, what activities do you enjoy outside work?

I love football and I support Uganda Cranes, Villa, Olugave and Manchester United [hopefully in that order, Quick Talk thinks]. I like building so, I am always building something, even if it’s a rabbit’s house.

Source : The Observer

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