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Timaya: Former plantain seller comes to Uganda as a global music star

SANKO STAR:  Nigerian singer Timaya is in town and he will perform at the debut regional Club Mega Fest concert slated for Kakindu Stadium in Jinja, tomorrow. He will also perform at a beach concert at Waterfront Beach this Sunday. DARIUS MUGISHA  tracks Timaya’s life, music journey, and his debut show in Uganda.

Born on November 29, 1977, Alfred Enetimi Odon aka Timaya is a Nigerian singer and songwriter. He is the founder of South South hip hop group called Dem Mama Soldiers. Timaya kick started his solo music career in 2006. But it wasn’t a walk in the park to make it to where he is.

Early life and school
Timaya was born and raised in Port Harcourt- the capital of River State, Nigeria which lies along the Bonny River and is located in the Niger Delta.
According to Wikipedia, Timaya grew up as part of a large family; the youngest of 15 children in Agip Estate, Port Harcourt. His father was a banker and his mother was a trader. Timaya attended Assemblies of God Nursery and Primary School, then joined Nkpolu Oroworukwo in Port Harcourt where he is reported to have often broken house rules to attend late-night music events. Before Timaya could graduate from school, his mother arranged for him to travel with his older brother and older sister to Lagos. In Lagos, he was admitted into Lagos’ Ikeja Grammar School, where he eventually obtained a secondary school certificate.
He later returned to Port Harcourt to study Banking and Finance at tertiary-level, but he performed poorly in the examinations and was dropped after the first semester. He moved back to Lagos to join Eedris Abdulkareem’s hip hop group as a backup vocalist. Abdulkareem is famous for his 2004-2005 Jaga Jaga hit.

The beginning
After three years of working with Eedris, Timaya left the group to focus on his solo career. He began to record collaborations with fellow up-and-coming artistes and made his first cameo appearance in an unreleased music video by UDX, a Lagos-based rap group.
After hearing him perform the a cappella version, Nigerian celebrated producer K-Solo helped produce Timaya’s first major hit record Dem Mama.   Describing the song in an interview in August 2013, Timaya said Dem Mama was an account of the 1999 destruction of Odi, a river side community in Niger Delta. “Soldiers were hunting down militants they alleged killed eight policemen. The village was burnt down and numerous people killed. I bravely tackled the issue years later and won instant street credibility for my boldness.”
And during a 2012 interview conducted by, Timaya told a story of how he was sexually abused by an older woman, just because the woman provided a few basics like shelter, food and clothing.
“I was writing my songs and hustling between studios. The woman accommodated me after I was thrown out by my landlord. And all through my stay, she fed me. She handed me rules and regulations. I was supposed to be in the house by 7pm and she slept with me whenever she wanted, whether I liked it or not. And the day I said I was tired, she would sanction and threaten me for daring to go do it with someone else,” Timaya said.

Making hits
After the success of Dem Mama, Timaya decided to continue with Producer K-Solo and he recorded seven more songs for his first album True Story; which was released in 2007.
Later the same year, Timaya began work on his second album with producers Phyno, Jeggs, Spankie, Akeem D Beat, K-Solo and Terry G. Timaya’s second album titled Gift and Grace was released into stores across Nigeria in 2008. The album won Timaya two awards – Album of the Year at the Nigeria Music Awards and Best Reggae/Dancehall album at the Headies Awards.
Timaya went ahead to win two awards Best Reggae/Dancehall album for Gift and Grace and Best Collaboration for his feature on J Martins’ Good or Bad (O Wey) at the 2009 edition of The Headies.
Timaya released his third album, De Rebirth- three years later. The album’s success was the lead single Plantain Boy. He also collaborated with artistes including 2face Idibia, TJ 2Solo, Allenian, Konga, Lanre, M.I, TJ, and Wrecoba on his third album.
In November 2011, Timaya released LLNP (Long Life And Prosperity), a collaborative album with Dem Mama Soldiers. The album’s second track Dem No Like Me featured a guest appearance by legendary reggae singer, Ras Kimono.
But Timaya’s continental breakthrough came after his 14-track album titled Upgrade, which had hits  like Sexy Ladies, Bum Bum and Malonogede. Bum Bum is to date one of the best songs by Timaya for his Ugandan fans.
He went ahead and remixed Bum Bum with US-based Jamaican dacehall sensation Sean Paul.
Timaya’s 2014 release Sanko has been his biggest by far, especially amongst the Ugandan music lovers. Sanko is a fast paced hit with a very catchy music video. Timaya also released My Body another hit that managed to make it big in Uganda.

Love Life
Timaya is not married yet, but he is a father. He enjoyed a steamy relationship with Nigerian actress Empress Njamah but the two separated years back. Timaya later had a daughter named Emmanuella Perere Timaya. During an interview with, Timaya was asked about his thoughts on marriage and his answer was; “marriage comes with a lot of responsibilities, which are beyond financial or material things. God has blessed me with everything. A man needs to have a successful married life and you can bet that Emmanuella and Barbara will get the best of everything money can buy, but personally, I don’t feel ready for it.” He apparently rents his baby-mama Barbara and daughter Emmanuella a luxurious apartment and he also bought her a luxurious Mercedes Benz GL 4matic 450. Timaya managed to keep his love life out of the press, but according to different Nigerian news sites, the singer is expecting a second child with Barbara.

Endorsements/ honours
In 2011, Timaya was appointed a Peace Ambassador by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP). Dr Hak Ja Haan Moon, co-founder of the IIFWP, stated that he is “one of those individuals whose lives exemplify the ideal of living for the sake of others.

Concert to raise funds for girls’ education

A  few days to the concert, Kayan Promotions, the company behind Timaya’s trip, partnered with the Busoga Kingdom. Whereas the promoters, Kayan wished to have the Kyabzinga endorse the concert, the Kingdom was interested in getting funds to support their girl child education initiative. As such, the two parties came to an understanding where the Kingdom would employ all its communication avenues, to mobilise its subjects to attend the Timaya concert.
Kayan promotions on the other hand agreed that it would remit every Shs1,000 per ticket purchased for the concert to the girl child cause.
Andrew Ntange, the Busoga Kingdom spokesperson said that the kingdom will help in creating awareness and mobilising the Kyabazinga’s subjects to attend the concert at Kakindu Stadium.
“We are going to turn this into a drive. As a kingdom, we will mobilise all our people to come out and support Timaya’s concert. We shall tell our people that this is beneficial to the kingdom. In return, Kayan promotions will donate Shs1000 off each ticket sale towards the kingdom’s Girl Child education initiative,” Mr Ntange said.
Ntange , said the Kyabazinga William Wilberforce Gabula Nadiope IV, had not confirmed his attendance by press time, as his away for studies in the UK, but he said anything could happen by tomorrow. “The Kyabazinga really wants to be part of this event,” Mr Ntange said.

The regional Club Mega Fest nxbcvxcvxcxcvc
First time in the pearl: Timaya is set to perform for the first time ever in Uganda at the debut Club regional Mega Fest.
Two concerts: He will stage two shows; the first one will be at Kakindu Stadium in Jinja, tomorrow, while the second one will be held at Waterfront Beach Entebbe on Sunday.
Entrance fees: Entry to the Jinja show is Shs 10,000 the Entebbe show is Shs15,000. Time: Just like the debut Mega Fest concert last year, gates will be open at 12pm and the fun will go on all the way past midnight.
Other performers: Timaya will be sharing the stage with Ugandan artistes including Maro, Radio & Weasel, Bobi Wine, Sheebah, Pallaso, Peter Miles, A Pass, Gravity Omutujju as well as a lineup of comedians led by Afande Kerekere.

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