BAD CALLING? Since he signed to the Bryan White Foundation, singer Weasel has only released one song and he has on several occasions fallen out with his manager. The beginning seemed promising, but is Bryan White’s Foundation aka podium threatening the future of our artistes? Lawrence Ogwal & Isaac Ssejjombwe explain.
In October last year, the entertainment industry and social scene received a personality by the name Bryan Kirumira also known as Bryan White, who claimed to have emerged from Italy after taking over his late step father’s wealth. The father in question was Emmanuel Claudio, an Italian tycoon and businessman who died last year. Among the socialite Bryan White seemed to have put on tenterhooks was Jack Pemba after he invaded his regular hangout.
READ ABOUT BRYAN WHITE’S ALLEGED HISTORY: Who the heck is Bryan White?
In the last eight months when he was said to have come back from Italy, Bryan White started the Bryan White Foundation where he is the CEO and the organisation was meant to do charity. And indeed they have gone on to engage in various charity projects.
In December last year, Bryan White announced the official launch of his foundation in Mbarara where he would work with a selection of artistes and comedians of his choice.
Signing Weasel to the podium
A few days after the death of Singer Mowzey Radio, Bryan White promised to take on his partner Weasel and indeed when the foundation was launched, the two signed an agreement to work together. Weasel had worked with Bryan White for a month before the launch and at the time, he was joined by artistes Spice Diana, Cindy, Chameleone and DJ Micheal.
After a successful launch of the foundation in March this year, the artistes were back to Kampala. Before we knew it, Cindy and Spice Diana were pulling out of the foundation. On the other side, Weasel and King Micheal must have spread word about what big steaks they were eating because the next names we saw on the Bryan White registration form were Chameleone, Pallaso, Lady Mariam, Big Eye, Morgan Isaac and comedians Madrat and Chiko, Mendo and Alex Muhangi. And then kickboxer Titus Tugume, who took us by surprise.
Life on the podium
The Bryan White Foundation offices, which have been nicknamed ‘podium’ are located at Bryan White’s home in Munyonyo. In the enclosed gate are two flats. What is supposed to be the boy’s quarters is what White uses as his office. Although there are more than 10 employees, the office accommodates only Bryan White and two other people. The rest of the members sit under a tent in the compound. The tent has a TV and a few seats.
When the members of the podium report in the morning, they basically do not do much and only wait for when there is an event to attend with their boss. After doing Foundation work, no one goes home. However late it gets, they must return to the offices and get paid for the day.
Being on the ‘podium’ call for things such as patience, obedience and hard work. But we all know these are not qualities many Ugandan celebrities possess. The ‘podium’ seems to have put these guys in line though — or is it just for the money? From what we hear, on the ‘podium’ all members are instructed to wear branded Bryan White Foundation t-shirts, which they are all expected to tuck into their trousers, wear identity cards and hand them back to the gateman on their way out.
Besides that, the members are also required to escort the boss everywhere he goes. The last sighting was at the Bika Football Tournament, where Bryan White handed over Shs10m and 100 balls to the Katikkiro of Buganda.
Note that the artistes and comedians on the podium were made to play a football game — now, how often does that happen?
According to a trusted source at the podium who preferred anonymity, on every occasion these celebrities visit Bryan White’s home, he pays them depending on how big the artiste is.
“Some got Shs1m while others got Shs500k, 300k etc. This is why we would be there as early as 8am. We were served full meals and some lucky ones got iPhones,” he said.
Celebrities who have been on, off and back to the podium
Bryan White knows how to play his cards right with these celebrities. When Chameleone left the podium a week after he had joined, he did not have kind words for the big man or even his cause. So imagine the shocker when pictures of him rubbing shoulders with Bryan White emerged last month. It is alleged that he received some good shillings, which were sent to his wife Daniella after she gave birth.
Weasel has also left the podium after he was arrogantly called to ‘return to the podium’ during one of Bryan White’s meetings. Weasel swore never to go back but like his brother, money came roaring and there was never another option.
In fact it was within this period that Chagga, Weasel’s manager called out Bryan White for failing Weasel’s music career.
As soon as Weasel signed back on the podium, he sent a statement firing Chagga.
Singer Cinderella Sanyu aka Cindy, said she joined the Bryan White Foundation thinking it was all about charity: “I left because I had no reason to stay and yes, he used to give us good money but it was not enough for me to stay because I make money singing.”
The way the moneybags has been treating the celebrities has annoyed many who have taken on social media to express their frustration, a thing that probably put pressure on Bryan White, who has decided to chase all of them off his podium.
Word going around is that all the stars working at the Foundation were fired and others told that their contracts would be reviewed to see who returns and who does not.
“Bryan White sat us down as members of the podium and said he would take over our management under his Foundation and that whoever wanted our services would first go through him,” Chiko, a comedian, said, adding that whenever someone wanted to perform, Bryan White would charge them highly, which sent potential clients running.
FULL SQOOP: Why Bryan White fired artistes from the podium
Chiko said they have always survived without Bryan White and it was good that it was over because their fans were starting to talk ill about them and undermine them.
Suudiman Lukwago, a stakeholder in the music industry last week posted on his social media platforms about how artistes and comedians working with the Bryan White Foundation were doomed to fail if they continued working with Bryan White.
“Bryan White must have been funded by another country to sabotage and fail the music industry and corner our artistes in one place,” Suudiman said, adding that if one person down in the village is inspired by say Jose Chameleone and Weasel, then they watch them on TV wearing uniforms and identity cards, it would discourage them.
He gave an example of Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa. It is said that Dangote has contributed to the Nigerian Music Industry by funding most of the artistes. He also invites artistes to his home but never brings media and he never tells them what to do and what not to do. It should be noted that when Olamide and Don Jazzy both Nigerian artistes were not seeing eye to eye, the rich man called them to make peace. Suudi said this is contrary to what Bryan White does, keeping artistes in his gate at his Munyonyo home with uniforms and identity cards.
Sources at the podium say food is brought to the artistes and the only time they go out of the gate is when they have field work, which involves charity work with the boss.
No amount can buy me to the podium-Salvado
Comedian Patrick ‘Salvado’ Idringi is a household name in comedy circles and he is also friends with Madrat and Chiko. So how come he is not on the podium or rather, how did his friends get there?
For the Man from Ombokolo, he is in no place to judge other people’s decisions because everyone makes their own choices, good or bad.
“Personally I would not join the podium in the framework it is, with the artistes being paraded and made to put on uniforms; I would not be part of that despite the good cause of trying to change people’s lives. We all have a duty to give back to society, especially when you have been blessed, but it has to be done out of free will, with no ill intentions or expecting to gain something.”
“I have worked so hard to build my name and I will protect it even if it means losing money, which is why no amount of money would get me to join the podium. In fact it is not about the money but the principles behind the whole campaign. I know a bit about charity work and in that case, I choose to stay in my lane,” Salvado said.
He added that despite that, the podium has not affected comedy because the industry is made up of many players, most of whom did not join the podium and those who did are still on top of their game.
How Bebe Cool eluded the podium
Bebe Cool is no stranger to always jumping on projects but the way he eluded this one is still surprising. Actually he survived the podium by a whisker. According to a reliable source in the camp, Bryan White badly needed Bebe Cool under his armpits as well. Chameleone alone was not enough. He needed an equally big and he laid out a plan to have the self-proclaimed Big Size on board.
Bryan White met Bebe at Serena a few months ago when he was desperately looking for help to save a baby who needed surgery abroad and after meeting, the moneybags handed Bebe Shs10m and said it was his for being a good artiste. A few days later, the big man asked if the singer could join him at the launch of the foundation in Mbarara, promising him Shs20m; Shs10m before they left and Shs10m when they arrived in Mbarara.
The two agreed on where to meet and when D-day came, Bebe first sent his manager to pick the deposit but Bryan White refused and said he wanted Bebe himself to pick it up from his home in Munyonyo. However when Bebe arrived, he noticed the press in the compound with other musicians gathered. That is when the Katono musician turned his Hammer and drove away, never crossing paths with Bryan White again.