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How the Eagle crash-landed

Former Eagles Production members Fred Serugga, Mesach Semakula, Grace Ssekamate, Ronald Mayinja and Geoffrey Lutaaya. PHOTOS BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZINOW GOLDEN PRODUCTION: They had been together for 15 years, until last week when most members chose to leave Eagles Production to form Golden Production, Edgar R. Batte found out why  this group of musicians and friends chose to go separate ways. 

Last week word about the split of one of Uganda’s biggest bands, Eagles Production, made rounds as most of the members moved on to form the new Golden Production Band.

According to the former Eagles Production manager, now manager of Golden Production, Musa Kavuma, they had wanted to change name of the band for some time and they finally did it last week.
“When we did, one of our directors, Geoffrey Lutaaya, was not happy and preferred not to join Golden Band,” Kavuma explains the genesis of the split.

Humble beginnings
Eagles Production was formed in 1999 by Grace Ssekamatte, Mesach Semakula, Ronald Mayinja, Fred Seruga, and Geoffrey Lutaaya. They had all at one time been entertainers – dancers and singers; having started out in Emitos Band, which was led by the late Umaru Katumba, a defector from The Ebonies.
They later performed in other bands. Ssekamatte was with Exodus Band with Edward Ssendi; Lutaaya was with Cubios Band; Mesach Semakula was a music producer and technician with Kassey Sounds and Mayinja was with Univox Band.
They met again under Kato Lubwama’s Diamond’s Production before forming Eagles Production, a band that scaled the heights with some members like Mesach Semakula and Ronald Mayinja going on to win the coveted but now defunct Pam Awards Artiste of The Year.
Their manager Kavuma had been friends with the group members since 1997, before assuming the role of manager when the group was formed.

Lutaaya speaks
When contacted, Lutaaya says he is still with Eagle’s Production with his wife Irene Namatovu, though he is quick to add that the band is taking a hiatus as he ponders the next step.
“Eagles Production is going silent for some time. I am now focused on my album launch which is due on May, 16. It is taking place at Hotel Equatoria parking,” he says.
However when further asked about the rootcause of the differences that have led to the split of the band, Lutaaya said he was not comfortable discussing the matter.
“I think we need time to meet and discuss our differences with my band mates because we have worked together for a long time. It has been 15 years and I think we need to reset ourselves,” Lutaaya told Sqoop.
However, Kavuma said that Lutaaya was not happy with one of the new band’s rules, which calls for all band members not to miss out on the band’s shows.

Grace Ssekamatte, one of the new directors in Golden Production says that many times Lutaaya did not appear on Eagle’s Production music shows, something which did not go down well with fellow band members and fans alike who expected all members present whenever Eagle’s Production was advertised to perform.
“At times we were slated to perform at a show and when we contacted Lutaaya, his phones would be off, which was not cool, so we needed to draft new rules that govern us all,” Ssekamatte explains.
“The new rules are binding for all members. In Eagles Production, we worked as friends but it is high time we started acting as professionals. In Golden Production we would like to abide by the new rules and we want to do music as professionals,” Kavuma further explained.

Money troubles
Money has been sighted as one of the root causes of split of Eagles Production. It is alleged that on several occasions, certain musicians would collect money on behalf of the band but not remit it to the group. In fact, events’ organiser, promoter and entertainment entrepreneur Balaam Barugahare says that Eagles Production owes him more than Shs100m.

“I have served Geoffrey Lutaaya, Ronald Mayinja, Grace Ssekamatte, Fred Sseruga and Mesach Semakula, the Eagle’s directors with a notice to sue. I have contracts signed with Eagles Production and Geoffrey Lutaaya signed as a director of the band. I advanced him Shs30m for his launch, Shs50m for two music shows, on Easter day and on Easter Monday and about Shs40m for shows at Bat Valley theatre.” Barugahare explains.
He says that it is unfortunate that Eagles Production is splitting at this point when he has binding contracts with them for future shows.
“Now that the band members are no longer together, I need back my money,” he says.

Kavuma says he has heard about Baruhagare’s claims but says that Lutaaya picked that money but did not present it to the group as per the procedure.
“So as far as I am concerned as the group’s manager, that is money he took as a person and not on behalf of Eagles Production,” he explains.
He adds, “I also have debts and I know how to pay them, so I guess Lutaaya knows best how he will pay that money.”

Why I left Eagles – Haruna Mubiru

The recent news of the split of Eagles Production Band has caused a storm, but these are not the first break-ups this band has witnessed. Haruna Mubiru is one of the members who had earlier left Eagles to form his own Kream Production.
He joined the band in 2003. “I was initially employed as a technician but with time the directors realised I could do more than simply help with carrying and wiring stuff. So I became a vocalist and started singing and producing songs,” Mubiru explains.
After nine years with the band, he called it quits to start a solo career. “I felt I had learnt enough and was in position to become an employer too. I went solo and started Kream Production where I have artistes like Charles Sekyewa, Stabua Natoro, Mary Butter Namakula, Gentle Mulindwa, John Hill Kyobe and Jackie Namanda,” he says.
Though there was talk of his remuneration not being good enough yet he at the time had hit songs like Kitooke, Haruna chose not to dwell on the past when asked why he left Eagles.

What people say about eagle’s production band split

I think it was not such a good move and a good example, Eagles Production being one of the most celebrated bands after Afrigo band in Uganda. They should have sorted out their differences in-house other than using the media. And the rush to rebrand was not called for and up to now I ask myself why they want to rebrand to Golden Production and the only answer I can think of is a power struggle. They are actually showing a bad example to the upcoming bands.

I just wish these singers can come back together because they have grown up as friends and good entertainers. I cannot imagine them being apart. They grew a fan base as a band. Their split will split their fans. I am sure they can find a middle ground.
Habib Rwakana, CYCLIST

It is a pity there are no conflict resolution avenues in place to help a band like Eagles Production to iron out their differences. Their split kills them because they rose to fame as a bloc, not individually. I just wish there was a tribunal of sorts like you journalists have associations like Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) which you can turn to to iron out your differences.
Jack Sserunkuuma, ARTS entrepreneur

They have been good. Their split shows that they have failed themselves as artistes. Together they were great singers and performers so they have lost that strength of performing as a group that had weathered the times. As Eagles Production, many heads came together and whatever they created was reflective of a collective effort.

Clearly there is loss of trust among group members. They doubt one another. They have come to a point of calling one another thieves. If they had worked on dealing with each other transparently, then we would not have witnessed the split. You realise that each of them seems to have a selfish motive and as such they do not wish good for one another. As a fan, this makes me feel bad because this is a band that has been respected and one I loved so much.

It is not good for Eagles Production to split. They should not forget that strength lies in unity. There is a problem in this because fans went to watch them expecting variety since they are many. They have lost that by spliting. They say Geoffrey Lutaaya has remained with Eagles Production as a name but no band. What I learn in this as a fan is to trust few people. I grew up listening to Eagles since I was a child in Luweero.
Bob Mukwana Kizito, BODA BODA RIDER


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