Finding Allan Ssali: Two years ago, news broke out that Bebe Cool has a son – in secondary school. Journalists frequented the boy’s school to confirm the rumour and when it couldn’t be hidden much longer, the singer called a press conference and confirmed that indeed Allan Hendrick Ssali was his first child. The 22-year-old is now a budding singer and signed to Gagamel. Lawrence Ogwal caught up with him.
You are Bebe Cool’s first born but how come the public has just known you?
What do you mean the public has just come to know me? Anyway, I have been living with my father for nine years now. I used to be in boarding school and most of the time I stayed with my mother in Kanyanya and only saw my father during holidays.
Many people think he was hiding you because he brought you in after 13 years?
He wasn’t hiding me from the public. I was staying with my mother in Kanyanya like I had said but he only brought me to stay with him when he realised I was a singer. So he wanted to mentor me and guide me in the music industry since he is one of the biggest singers in the country.
When did you start singing?
I started singing in 2013 while in my Senior Four but I kept it a secret from my father because I worried that he would kill me when he found out. I would release songs only during holidays because it was hard for me to balance music and school.
When did he learn of your singing?
It was after about a year because I used to only perform at school events but eventually some people told him. When he called me, I thought he would be angry but he asked if music is exactly what I wanted to do. That was when he brought me in to start staying with him and also got me out of boarding School to a day school.
So you are still at school?
No, I am actually in my Form Six vacation and that is the reason I am doing more music. I have enough time to do more music and quality music because I am under the guidance of my father. Back then, I used to go to poor studios but he now takes me to good studios and also helps me financially. That is why I have good music videos and audios.
How did it feel when news spread on social media about Bebe Cool’s 22-year-old son?
I was in Senior Five then but since most of the children at school didn’t know about it, I also pretended like I knew nothing. It was until journalists came to my school looking for me even when they didn’t know what I looked like. A few students who knew me showed them who I was and they approached me.
So did you confirm to the journalists that you were your father’s long lost son?
I didn’t confirm anything. For about a week, I kept telling them I didn’t know what they were talking about and I denied being Bebe Cool’s son.
You denied your father before journalists?
I didn’t deny him. I was in school and didn’t want any distraction. When I went back home, I told him about it because I was fed up of them frequenting my school. He called a press conference at home and confirmed to them that I was his first child.
How has your life changed before and after the public knew you are Bebe Cool’s son?
Well, the media has been following everything I do because I am a son of a celebrity but I don’t care about that. It is not good to be arrogant because you are a celebrity or a son of one. The people you show your arrogance are actually the same people you will need sometime in future.
Most people complain about their relationships with stepmothers, tell me about yours?
Mummy Zuwe (read Zuena) is a wonderful mother. We actually get along very well. She takes me as her first born even though I am not her own.
Tell us about your biological mother?
My mother doesn’t want the media. She prefers to live a private life and I respect that, the reason I keep my celebrity life away from her.
Don’t you miss staying with her?
I don’t take a week without checking on my mother. I visit her every week in Kanyanya, and sometimes we hang out together.
Your father seems like a really tough man.
Many people think he is tough but he is just a strict and straightforward man. Having grown up with a person like him, I have managed to handle situations as a man.
Are you into music because your father is a singer?
No, I had a passion for music since childhood, but I was inspired by reggae artistes from Jamaica. I just stopped doing dancehall music because the demand for reggae is not high in Uganda. But there is no doubt my father is among the people who inspired me.
What are some of your favourite songs by Bebe Cool?
I like most of his songs but because I am a reggae fan, I will go for Trouble, Never Trust No People, and Love You Every Day.
Do you think he is the best artiste in the country as he claims?
I won’t say he is the best because Uganda has many different artistes doing different genres of music. There are good reggae artistes, dancehall artistes and RnB artistes.
Years ago, your father was involved in many fights. Did it ever embarrass you as a child?
I was young but with a mature mind. I didn’t take it seriously because he always came back home and told us it was not true and those were just false stories by the media.
Does he ever talk about his differences with Bobi Wine?
I can’t give you a clear explanation on that. I have grown up paying no mind to my father’s wars because whoever he has differences with, he can handle them himself.
Do you use drugs like is common with many local artistes?
First and foremost, our family doesn’t entertain smoking of any kind. I personally stop at wine, so does my father. I have never seen him smoke anything. He keeps telling me never to do drugs and to disassociate myself from people who do them.
But we have met your father several times drinking beer and whisky.
I don’t know about that because I have never seen him.
Would you leave Gagamel if you received a deal from another label?
Why not? Provided we sit down and come to a clear conclusion with the people concerned, I can join another group.
What feedback do you get from fans regarding your music?
Many people say I sing like my father. I like advice but I think I am not trying to sing like him. I am going to try my level best to get my own style and also change my voice.
Do you have any father-son collaborations?
If we collaborate on a song, how will one differentiate the voices? We have the same vocals, but with time I think we shall have several songs together.
Do you have songs with other artistes?
I am not into doing collaborations yet because I also want to breakout as a solo artiste. When that time comes, I will choose who to work with although many keep calling me for music projects.
Do you write your own songs?
No. Many people think my father does but I work with St Andrews, Brian and others. I have recorded many songs, including Bundu (my first), Omukwano Gwo, Akagambo and Blessing, among others.
What don’t people know about you?
I am a down-to-earth guy and I respect people. I love making friends.
What next after school?
I am going to do a course in Oil and Gas either in Uganda or abroad. (He studied PEM/ICT at A-Level).
So you will give up on the music?
I won’t quit music. I will just have to divide time for the two.
What schools did you attend?
I attended Rukungiri Modern Primary School then joined Kawempe Muslim School for S.1 to S.3 and later Kitante Hill School.
Where do you perform at?
I mostly perform at school events, parties and other functions but once in a while I perform at concerts.
Does your father get you gigs?
Unless it is his concert, but I always get my own gigs.
Is it true your father is under pressure ahead of his concert?
My father has work to deliver and his aim is delivering nice music. When he takes long without releasing a song, fans complain and when he releases many songs, people still complain. I really don’t know what people call pressure.
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