Queening: For a girl who left home at the age of 15, one can only imagine what was going through her mother’s head seeing her last born daughter command crowds. After 10 years of hustling, Sheebah Karungi last Friday proved that she deserves a seat at the top. Isaac Ssejjombwe looks at how things went at her concert.
When she released her songs Nsali, Automatic and Nkwetaga, the sound was similar to one of those girl-group dropouts struggling to go solo. Her shelf life would not be seen beyond one year, and for lack of kinder words, Sheebah’s future did not look bright.
Little did we know that this girl was busy shopping vanilla, strawberry and milk to serve us some Ice Cream. To hear that she saved up for one year so she can have a good video for the song was a bet she will never regret because since then, Sheebah has not stopped!
“I prayed for the best, I got the bestest! Thank you! Thank You! Thank You! You made my dream come true! #WeFilledAfricana #WeMadeHistory!” When Sheebah posted this on her Facebook timeline after her show last Friday, she was not lying.
Prior to her show, the Nkwatako singer had opened up to Sqoop that she was nervous about the show. After 10 years in the music industry, this was the first time she was being the centre of attention and indeed she appeared nervous when she emerged from backstage. The sight of the mammoth that had turned up for the show was all the strength she needed.
“Do you know a karaoke dancer who started out in a group called Stingerss, then joined Obsessions, before going solo and teaming up with Sizzaman to do ‘Automatic’? That song you said wouldn’t have been a hit if it wasn’t for Sizzaman? Well, that girl is in front of you now and you are all here because of her,” was what she said midway her performance. “I wouldn’t have made it without Jeff Kiwa. He believed in me and has always done so. I would also like to thank my mum for being there. She taught me one thing; To always be strong no matter what and I would also like you to teach your children the same.”
This was not the first huge audience Sheebah was performing for, but she had never gone for two hours, with only five minutes to rest. She did songs her fans were familiar with; Twesana, Jordan, By The Way, Ice Cream, Go Down Low, Wantama and Tunywe and, Kisasi Kimu. She dedicated the second session of her show to collabos; Wadawa with Chozen, Farmer with Ykee Bender, Omulembe with Aziz Azion and Otubatisa before doing Nipe Yote, Ndiwanjawulo and Nkwatako which climaxed the night.
When Sheebah said she could not wait for the world to know her name, we did not take her dream skeptically. Afterall she already has a MAMA Award nomination on her CV!
Team No Sleep was fully represented by artistes Diamond Oscar who did two songs, Roden Y, who has never disappointed when he steps on stage. However this time, he did more movement on stage than sing. It looked as though he was possessed and he nearly fell as he was jumping all over. His ‘Kabako song was the most loved, and those who received the wildest cheers from the crowd included Desire Luzinda, Fefe Busi, and Bebe Cool. The other performers were Aziz Azion, Rema, Ykee Benda and Mesach Ssemakula.
Silk Events was behind the sound, stage and lighting of the event but besides constructing a big stage that accommodated all Sheebah’s dancers, the rest did not go as expected. The sound was bad during some performances, the screens set up to help people at the back were not that helpful as they kept going on and off.
Barricades were set up opposite Airtel house where the general crowd who paid 20k were supposed to pass. This has been the arrangement at all events held at Africana, but at Sheebah’s concert, the lines started filling up by 6pm. Cars were parked from Airtel House to UMI gate and the queue never grew smaller at anyone point, which eventually led to the closure of the gates since the venue was filled to capacity.
At the VIP entrance, the big spenders accessed the venue without much hustle. The only concern was the bouncers, who were a bit harsh, abusive and manhandling people. Even KT, the organiser of the event was seen manning the gate at some point. “When I am promoting the event, you never show support but when the date of the event comes, you come running to get in,” KT told journalists who later paid to cover the show.
The backstage was congested with people who had a role to play and others who basically just wanted to chill with celebrities. At some point, the police had to chase away everyone backstage to clear space for Sheebah to go on stage.
If there is any event that had the best security, it was this show. Outside the venue, you could see men in black uniform (counter terrorism), Khaki uniformed policemen and those in casual outfit. They kept order as was expected of them and for those who did not do as they were told, were either bounced or taught a lesson. One person who fell prey to the no-nonsense security men was upcoming artiste Aidan Queen, who was roughed up and handcuffed for hours after forcing her way backstage.
All idle people backstage were dispersed by the police. They had even barred Bebe Cool and his entourage from accessing the backstage but later let him in. Like is always the case at most shows at Africana where people are beaten and their property stolen after the show, there was less criminal activity.
People have always complained that Sheebah is a skimpy artiste because of how she dresses and in one of the interviews we had with her, she advised the youth out there to copy everything else she does but not her dresscode.
In her first session at the concert, she stepped out dressed in a red top and a gold sequined shorts with a long cape skirt. She then changed to a green high waist pants and top with an halter neck jacket which she later ditched and threw on a feather stole. She teamed this with thigh-high boots. Her outfits were designed by Kraphael and her flawless makeup was done by Mona Faces.
Lately, concerts at Africana will see all people who just want to step on stage grab the microphone and pass as emcees. And Sheebah’s concert was no exception. It had five emcees; Mc Kats, Mc Daggy Nyce, Kasuku and two TV presenters. They each came out on different occasions. Everyone wanted to make a point at this event but it was evident that some could not. Mc Kats – who was in a suit btw, Daggy Nyc and Kasuku were impressive but not the other two. No wonder Kasuku kept throwing jibes at one of them for not being able to handle such a crowd.
Haters will say she got lucky with the cancellation of the Wiz Kid show. Ignore them! Sheebah’s audience came in huge numbers, in fact it is because of them that Sheebah has gone down in history books as one of the artistes to ever fill Africana because some people were denied access to the venue.
Their expectations were high especially because of the hard work she has done this year. Their support was witnessed through their endless support on every artiste that performed during the night and when Sheebah came on stage, the love was even more. They screamed on every song she did, they got out their phones and put on the lights when she instructed them too. They sang along to some of her songs and cheered her on as she danced. However, one thing was noticed about the audience. They screamed every moment Sheebah started performing a certain song but no sooner had she done ten seconds of the song, they went cold and just watched her. We could attribute this to the fact that she was doing live music which hinders the high pitch of the song thus making it boring.
The audience especially in the general section lost their cool at one point when Sheebah’s video clip talking about her life and musical journey was played for long. They pointed at their wrists which was an indication that time was being wasted, while others just ironically clapped to show their approval.
But at the end of the show, everyone was left satisfied that at least Sheebah didn’t disappoint especially for a female artiste whose musical journey is a testimony that someone can transform from zero to a hero.
The backup, the dancers and the Deejays
It was quite evident that Sheebah rehearsed well with the UB5 band because they responded well with each other on every song. This was also the case with the dancers who comprised of Tabu Flow and other groups. They never at any one time missed a step, they danced to the rhythm and interchanged well. When it was time for the girls to move off stage, they did it without the crowd noticing.
This concert was the perfect timing for some of the best Ugandan deejays to take each other on. KFM resident DJs Roja & Slicktuart were spinning alongside DJ Shiru, a legend who needs no introduction.
Roja & Slick Stuart were the first to sample the audience what they are made of and they did so with mixes that revolved around dancehall, Afrobeat, hip hop and local hits. And when Shiru came on stage, the crowd screamed as he turned tables with rock, dancehall and afro hits. At the end of the day, there was no clear winner.