TRIBUTE: Singer AK 47 passed away on Monday evening, aged 24. Darius Mugisha recollects the life story of the fallen musician
Like comedian Richard Tuwangye described him in his Facebook tribute; “his name suggested fire but he was the calmest one amongst the singing Mayanjas.” Singer AK-47 was a reserved, simple, creative, respectful and a talented young man.
I personally met Emmanuel Mayanja, then Hammatone way back in 2007 through his elder brother Jose Chameleone. We had only talked on phone and we scheduled an appointment at Nandos, a popular restaurant (by then) along Jinja Road.
As he walked through the crowd, AK-47 walked with his head down, and I was quick to tell he was a shy boy. I put up my hand and signaled to him to join me where I was seated. He could barely look me in the eye, as our conversation shifted from his desires to become a music star like his elder brothers, to a more serious caution to stay in school.
That time, AK-47, an S.4 student, had just released his first song and he wanted a review in Daily Monitor. After asking him several questions, many of which he had to consult with his mother, father or Chameleone before answering, AK-47 handed me a printed photo of him, he told me he had taken it that morning and waited for it to be printed at the studio. He argued that he wanted a fresh photo of him with his new haircut in the papers.
The story ran and when AK-47 called to thank me, he was beaming with happiness as he broke the news to me that I had just helped him get his first appearance in the papers.
It’s rather sad that I wrote the first piece about him in the papers and here I am typing a farewell piece for my friend through the years – Emmanuel Mayanja aka Hammatone aka AK 47.
And a few years later, when he finally adopted AK-47 as his new stage name from Hammatone, the dancehall singer laboured to explain to me his inspiration; “It is because my lyrics fire like bullets from the AK-47. In other words, I am a lyrical gun. And I’m forming my own label- Bullet Proof Entertainment,” he said.
Having seen him rise through the musical ranks for the past seven years, I must say AK-47 was a hardworking and creative musician. He did not get comfortable riding under his brother Jose Chameleone as a backup singer, he wanted to be his own brand and went ahead to pursue that dream.
But one thing you cannot take away is the bond and that existed between Chameleone and his youngest brother AK-47. Besides bringing him for his first newspaper interview, Chameleone nurtured AK-47 by guiding his sessions at his studio in Sseguku and he also financed more than half of his musical journey. The two could only get more inseparable after singers Moses Sekibogo aka Mowzey Radio, as well as AK-47’s other brother Douglas Seguya aka Weasel quit the Leone Island crew; when AK-47 was named the Vice President of the crew.
But all through this time, the last born of the Mayanjas remained as reserved and calm despite the Mayanjas often times being a cantankerous lot.
AK-47 went to Kawempe Muslim Primary School and Namilyango Junior Boys before joining Standard High school Zzana for his secondary school education. According to his former history teacher, comedian Mendo Segujja aka Sevo, AK-47 was a reserved but bright student.
“When I started teaching at Standard High school Zzana, I was allocated the slot of European History teacher for senior five and senior six. AK-47 was in senior five along with Winnie Mutoni aka Fille, and he was very popular because of his relationship with Chameleone, as well as his own outstanding singing abilities,” Mendo says.
The Museveni-imitator told us that AK-47 paid attention in class and loved his (Mendo’s) jokes. “He actually never missed my lessons,” Mendo added.
Mendo revealed that even way back in school, AK-47 and Bobi Wine’s younger brother Mikie Wine, who also attended the same school, used to sit under a jambula tree and practiced their talents.
Mendo said he was not so shocked and neither did he blame AK-47 when he dropped out of school while still in his senior five. “We all have one goal in life – to be successful. AK-47 might have dropped out of school, but he went to pursue his dream and in my view, he was treading the success path,” Mendo said. Champion, was Mendo’s best song by AK-47.
Dying on the right side
AK-47 never came up with a clear explanation on why he had to quit Jose Chameleone’s Leone Island crew. But the young star did not go about attacking his elder brother, the way we saw Pallaso and Weasel launching attacks on their elder Chameleone in the past.
And minutes before his death, AK-47 had just handed veteran disc spinner DJ Bobby his latest song titled Ndi Mulokole (I’m born again). “As I was copying the song off the disc, AK-47 excused himself for a short call.
A few minutes later, the bouncer called me and Diamond Oscar to go and see our friend who had fallen in the toilet. I drove behind the car that transported AK-47 to Nsambya Hospital. The lyrics of his new song haven’t left my mind since I watched the doctor pronounce him dead,” DJ Bobby says.
In his new and probably last song, AK 47 announced that he had finally seen the light, he had surrendered his life to Jesus. We shall ride on that and say AK-47 died on the right side; he had given his life to Christ the saviour.
According to the late AK-47’s father Mzee Gerald Mayanja, the fallen singer is survived by a set of twins – Nakato and Wasswa as well as a two-year old son.
Mzee Mayanja also showed us an incomplete house, just next to his in SSeguku that AK-47 was constructing to house his new family.
AK-47’s body was put for public viewing at the National Theatre on Tuesday evening and his remains were laid to rest yesterday in Kalangalo village, Nalugi parish-Mityana District. Hundreds of mourners saw off the singer. Rest In Peace AK 47.
After undergoing serious training by one of East Africa’s finest, his big brother Chameleone, AK-47 released a couple of songs. But it was until he released Champion, a 2011 dancehall track, that AK-47 became force to reckon with, not just in Uganda but across the region.
It was easier for AK-47 to widen his growing fan base because he traversed the globe as his elder brother’s second in command. AK-47 followed Champion with Gal a Bubble in which he featured Diziza. The video of this particular song didn’t make it to our TV screens because it had an adult theme with girls washing cars in bikinis, but it was such a big deal in bars and nightclubs.
In 2012, during Konshens visit, AK-47 had the opportunity to record with the Subkonshius boss’s brother Dario, who has also featured on a number of international collaborations. Shortly before he called it a day at Chameleone’s Leone Island crew, AK-47 along with Chameleone and rapper Atlas featured on two songs with 90s Jamaican star Red Rat.
Early last year, AK-47 together with Leone Island manager Sam Mukasa, quit Leone Island, joining former Good Lyfe Manager Jeff Kiwanuka’s new Team No Sleep music camp. AK-47 first teamed up with Bakri to make a musical duo, though it was quickly disbanded.
He released songs like Ebaluwa, Kidandali, Musajja Watu featuring King Saha, Onemye, Gweyaliwo, Tukikolemu, Raudah, Nali Sikimanyi, You should Know and Nalongo, which he dedicated to his girlfriend that had just given birth to their set of twins; this song was just three months old.
What family and friends said about AK-47
They called me at about 10pm on Monday night and told me that Emma (AK 47) had collapsed in the bathroom at a bar. I was shocked because he is not known to me as a sickler. 30 minutes later, I received another call and I was told my son had died. I don’t mean to insinuate anything, but I would like to get time and sit down with the people that were with my son before his death, I haven’t got time to meet them, but I will meet them and hear them out.
My son was a humble boy who loved his parents and his entire family. He was a scuffle-free celebrity and respected his elders, not just within the family, but everywhere he went. He was my last born and I pray the almighty God welcomes him into heaven to live with the angels. Rest in Peace my son Emma.
Mzee Gerald Mayanja- AK 47’s father
I can’t say that he is gone, although it’s painful that I will never see him again, I am sure I will meet my brother again. I’m thankful to God for his life. All his friends are already missing him. It is hard to express how I feel. I will miss you my brother and friend. Until we meet again. May the Almighty God and His Angels keep your soul in Eternal Peace. AK47 you are gone too soon.
Jose Chameleone- Elder brother/ mentor
I just lost my best friend, my brother, my refuge, the one person that knows everything about me and I could swear I know everything about him. We both raised each other. The world has lost one of the greatest angels to ever live. God please wake me up the pain is too strong! They say life goes on, but I still have failed to understand how it will.
When I received the bad news, I felt my body freeze. That boy was very young and promising. He earned his respect because he respected others and he was hardworking. It’s unfortunate that we lost such a talented youngster. May his soul Rest in eternal peace.
I will honestly try not to mourn the death of AK 47, but celebrate the joy that he brought to millions of music fans in Uganda. As a very young artiste( around 2010), I constantly bullied him , Kenzo and Big Eye whenever I saw them back stage by saying “you guys will not perform today”, as his elder brothers Chameleone and Weasel always laughed .
To all artistes, kindly respect and honour the late AK 47 by uniting and ending all the wrangles in the music industry. RIP my fellow warlord…Until we meet again.
DICKSON OKELLO – EVENTS SECURITY
Rest in peace my brother AK, I will always miss you. We shared a lot since childhood and memories are racing through my mind. God bless you soul. weasel – Brother