BIG TUNE: His Mulirwana hit made him a household name. And although not so many hits are not known to his name, King Saha downplays the possibility of turning into a one-hit wonder. Darius Mugisha spoke to him.
Who is King Saha?
My name is Mansoor Semanda. I’m a staunch Muslim. I come from a family of two; it’s only me and my sister.
How far did you go academically?
I went to St Agnes Primary School in Entebbe, then I joined Nkumba Secondary for my O-Level and I went to Kajjansi Progressive S.S for my A-Level. I joined Mutesa 11 Royal University and I graduated with a Diploma in Business Studies in 2011.
So when did you start singing?
I started serious singing after school in 2011. But according to my mother and all the people that were there when I was born, I started singing at birth. My grandmother told me that while many newly-born babies cry, I made melodious noise and kept quiet.
When did you start doing music professionally?
I started recording when I met producer Didi in December 2011. He had a crew called Bon Fire. That was my first time to record. We were quite a number; Gravity and Phat M were in the same group. I recorded a song titled Signal that introduced me to music lovers, but there was little progress in the group, so I left.
Have you ever done any other job besides music?
No serious job as such; I worked in my uncle’s wholesale shop in Kikuubo and then owned a video library in Mengo.
Who inspired you to join music?
While growing up, I admired the late Paul Kafeero so much. The way he crafted his words, the way he sang and the way he carried himself as a simple man, was amazing. It’s a pity that I didn’t meet him, but I still listen to his songs and salute him.
You used to belong to Jose Chameleone’s Leone Island Crew. How did you join?
I met Sam Mukasa who was then Chameleone’s manager through a friend of mine called Ricky in 2012. That time, I was trying to promote my song, Signal. Sam took me to Leone Island as an artiste that was directly his responsibility. And when I started working with him, I realised some serious change in my career. My song Signal was all over radio and TV stations. Whenever I went to perform, the crowd sang to my song.
So what did you earn from Leone Island?
I got so much exposure; I met so many people that helped my career in different ways.
Did you record a song with Jose Chameleone?
Yes, we recorded a few tracks, but they were not serious.
You quit Leone Island around the same time that AK 47 and the manager Sam Mukasa did. Is it true you fell out with Jose Chameleone over certain issues, if so, what were they?
No, no, there was no falling out of any sorts. I had become a brand and I needed to promote my brand. I left before AK 47 and since he was also a brand, he probably borrowed a leaf from me and decided to follow suit. As for Sam Mukasa, all I know is that he moved on with us to manage us fully as his artistes.
Many people have different perceptions of Jose Chameleone, how was it like working with him, what do you think about Chameleone as a person?
First, Chameleone is a very talented artiste. Then, he is human, just like any other person, he gets angry when something rubs him the wrong way and he gets happy when something good happens to him. He is like any other human being, just that he has so many cameras on him.
Your song Mulirwana is such a hit, did you record it while still in Leone Island, do you think working with Chameleone had an effect on the outcome of the song?
No, by the time I recorded Mulirwana, I had already quit Leone Island. And musically, I have always had the ability to pen amazing lyrics, even without so much experience and exposure. But like I said before, I attribute the exposure I got even before Mulirwana to Leone Island.
You have been seen with members of Team No Sleep that recently broke away from Good Lyfe Crew. Are you a member of the group?
No, I am not a member of Team No Sleep, they are just my very good friends. I have my own crew, it’s called King’s Love Entertainment. It consists of my management and everyone we work with. It comprises members like Sam Mukasa, Kim Swagg and Selector.
Talking about crews, whenever an artiste gets a hit song, they rush to form crews and many people out there feel the crews attract misleading characters that misdirect the artiste?
I think it all stems from failure to respect and maintain true friends. If you have been with someone even before you got a hit song, it’s very hard for them to mislead you. But the problem with most artsites, when they get a hit song, they get new friends that come with different intentions.
We have seen artistes who release one hit and you never hear of them again. How do you plan to avoid the one-hit wonder disaster?
My principle is simple; I always prepare, I take my time to perfect my art, and I am never indebted to anyone, so I’m never under pressure. My new song after Milrwana is called Gundeze and when you listen to it and watch the video, you will appreciate the time and creativity I invested in it. I am not a bandwagon person, I will not do Lingala because it’s hitting. I sing what’s in my heart and mind. But above all my biggest strength is in Allah to always guide me and make me what he wants me to become.
You are holding a concert at Theatre La Bonita this evening. But with only one hit song, don’t you think you rushed to hold a concert?
That’s not true, I feel the timing is right. And it’s not true that I only have one hit song. I have so many songs and my fans know them. Actually, this is going to be my second concert. I held my debut concert at PTC along Salaama Road last year and I got a sizeable crowd. The concert was dubbed Sikyakusobola. So I don’t see any rush in holding a concert this year especially that my audience has grown tremendously.
How has Mulirwana changed your life so far?
First, my fan base is quite huge right now; and by big I don’t mean just here in Uganda, but I have fans in so many different parts of the world. I have travelled to so many countries. I have been to South Africa, UAE (Dubai), Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Congo, Turkey, Egypt, S. Sudan, Ethiopia, UK and I am gearing up for my upcoming Schengen tour. Besides, I now earn a decent pay for my performances.
Speaking about pay, how much does King Saha earn for a performance right now?
That’s purely my manager’s work. King Saha simply does what the manager says. So the money issues are handled by the manager and I am green about how he does his things. But all you should know is that right now, I earn a decent pay for all my performances.
So what do you have to show as your achievements from your “decent pay” so far?
I have a couple of things that I have put my fingers on. For starters, I am a farmer and I am into both crop and livestock farming. I have a small farm in the village in Bikira, Rakai District, but that will be a discussion for another day. Like I told you, I studied business and I am a businessman as well.
However, right now most of my earnings are reinvested directly back into promoting my brand. I feel my brand is not even quarter way where I would like it to be, so I am reinvesting to ensure people get quality music and videos from King Saha.
The music industry is full of so many things; there are fights, beef, controversy, people flaunting luxury and so many other things. As a new artiste, what do you hope to change about the industry?
I don’t think there’s so much I can change! But I feel I can contribute towards cementing what is already in place. I think the biggest changes should be left to Allah, it’s only him that can empower me to do something that might change so much in the industry.
Speaking of beef and controversy, you have a couple of duets that people think are controversial. In your duet with Pallaso titled Tamale Mirundi, you were attacking the presidential spokesperson. Do you know he threatened to take legal action?
No, the song title is simply putting together Luganda words. When you are going somewhere with your wife and she is taking long to prepare, you ask “ono tamale (won’t she get done)?” So even in this song, it was about someone who was doing the same thing again and again and they were nicknamed Tamale, then Mirundi is the number of times Tamale was chased but he kept insisting.
I was also told that Tamele Mirundi had commented about our song and even threatened to take us to police, but I find it very funny for a whole presidential adviser to pick interest in a mere song title. Besides, he didn’t not monopolise the name, so he cannot be the only Tamale Mirundi.
And in your new duet with AK 47 titled Ayla, the same as Chameleone’s eldest daughter’s name and in the song you refer to her an Islander. Is it an attack on your former boss?
That’s a total misconception. Why would we attack Chameleone or his daughter? We just sang about a girl called Ayla. By the way she is a personal friend and she lives in Buziga. So we decided to use her name and the song is about her changing identity to islander.
Eddy Kenzo was viewed as one of the most reserved artistes, but two weeks ago, he lost his cool and beat up Dembe FM presenter Kasuku. Would you do the same to an annoying journalist? What’s the most annoying thing that has been said or published about you?
In my mind, I look at it in two ways. I know someone can get to your nerve and you attack them, but I also know that you can look on and let it go. But at times someone can react in the spur of a moment and that’s what Kenzo did. I have personally done things that I have regretted in the past and I cannot blame Kenzo entirely. I think I have been very lucky with the media so far. I haven’t read or heard any radio presenter say anything bad about King Saha.
The ladies have been asking, is King Saha married, single or searching?
I’m an adult and I would be lying if I told you that I’m single. I’m in a relationship, and I am very happy, but that’s as far as I can go to tell you about it.
So do you have any children?
I am better off keeping some aspects of my life very confidential. Children and family are very confidential aspects of my life.
You are a Muslim and the Quran states that you can have up to four wives, how many do you have or expect to have?
That very same law clearly states that one can only have the number of wives they can cater for, so with my earnings, I am not at the level of having four women in my life. Even then, it still remains a choice for one to have more than one wife. But like I said before, that’s confidential.
The Mulirwana concert
“The show kicks off at 6pm this evening at Theatre La Bonita. I have rehearsed for over a month and I will be on stage for two hours. I guess that will help me disprove people that have been saying I don’t have enough songs,” Saha says.
“Then, the people coming should expect to see so many Ugandan artistes on stage because I am friends with all musicians. Entrance is Shs20,000 and Shs50,000 for VIP sitting. I have one promise for everyone, coming to the concert; expect fun its peak,” he adds.