The better halves: Behind every top male artiste, is a woman that has played a big part in their success. Dating a musician comes with its highs and lows, yet we cannot help but wonder whether these women have a life of their own? What’s more to them than being the spouses of these music celebrities? What is their daily life like? What preoccupies them? Do they write the lyrics or have jobs or a business? We set out to find what each of them is upto and who is ruling right now. Ian Ortega writes.
Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine’s wife)
It was in 2001 that Bobi Wine and Barbie first met. In 2011, the two walked down the aisle in a wedding that captivated the nation. Barbie has relentless entrepreneurial skills, and many believe she is the reason Bobi Wine has consistently made remarkable investments. When the two first met, Barbie was an actress in a play that was being cast at the National Theatre.
For many in Kamwokya, Barbie’s name was synonymous with an electronics shop that she managed and owned in the area. The shop was housed in containers that KCCA (then KCC) deemed to have been erected illegally.
At the moment, Barbie spends most of her time at the couple’s One Love Beach in Busabala, manning the day-to-day operations. In simple terms, she’s the operations manager at the beach, a role she’s played since 2012. Earlier this year, she made news when she restored discipline among the Fire Base crew members who had made it a habit to enjoy the services and goodies at the beach for free, a habit that had caused financial losses. Whereas Bobi Wine does much of the marketing and is the face of the beach, Barbie is the pillar on which the beach business stands.
Barbie is also into farming on a medium scale, utilising some of the land that the family owns in Magere, Gayaza. Here Barbie spends time tending to the matooke and vegetables on the farm.
She has also published a book, ‘Tales of a Village Belle’ and was also the brains behind the Ghetto president reality TV show that documented the lives of her family. In a way of giving back to society, Barbie Itungo is the founder and executive director of a non-profit organisation, Caring Hearts Uganda. This organisation works to empower the youth in Uganda and drive social change causes by enabling young people adopt pillars of individual transformation. This organisation is headquartered at another of their many real estate properties, Semakokiro Plaza in Kamwokya. Barbie has worked with teen mothers and is leading a drive to ensure every girl can have access to sanitary pads. She also has a column in one of the local weeklies, where she shares her parenting tips.
Scandals: Barbie has been free of scandals. In January 2015, Bobi Wine admitted to having cheated on his wife. However, the mother of four boldly came out and assured the public that she would never walk out on Bobi Wine.
Social Media: Her Facebook posts rotate around her family and daily happenings in their lives. She’s an inspiration for many ladies who desire to keep in shape and takes time to share motivational messages. She has more than 48,000 followers on Facebook and has met key personalities, the US ambassador, Deborah Malac being one of them.
Zuena Kirema (Bebe Cool’s wife)
In 2001 when she contested for Miss Uganda as an 18-year-old, her being crowned as Miss Bell Lager did not come without controversy. As a Muslim, Zuena traversed the country promoting Bell Lager with the tagline; “you can tell who drinks a bell”. In the beginning, Bebe Cool couldn’t hear of his wife heading out every morning to work at a job.
The overly-protective star preferred her as a stay-at-home mother. However, when other stars made a show of this, Bebe Cool then granted Zuena some freedom to do more than being a housewife.. It is then that Zuena set out to pursue a music career. She did the Maata song with the Kiwoko boys, a song that became massively popular in the country. However, she could not follow up this success with her next song of Owa Boda. Her music career suffered a still birth and it was time for another venture.
Zuena Pastries then came into the picture. It was time to experience the other side of Zuena, the baker. In a 2014 interview with Sqoop magazine, Zuena confirmed that her business at the time was worth Shs30m. She had grown a clientele, all interested in having a taste of Zuena cakes, buns, bread and cookies at their functions. Today, the business is no more like all other Ugandan businesses that never live to celebrate their first birthday.
Zuena also replaced Justine Nameere at NTV as the host for Life Stories. In June last year, she resigned from the show, citing unavoidable family issues. Immediately, she travelled to the US where she gave birth to baby Caysan. Once again, Zuena is now into a full-time career as a mother. Perhaps as they say, water finds its level no matter what. Whenever she has appeared in public this year, it is either with the children or her husband. Recently, she was one of the participants in the “Cook Off” cooking competition organised by Dipu Ruparelia at Kabira Country Club. And yes, she appeared with Bebe Cool.
On social media: She has been very outspoken, defending her husband over what she terms as unfair judgments. Even though in the past, she was the inspiration behind songs such as Agenze, the new Zuena seems to now have stuck to Bebe Cool for better, for worse.
Fashion sense: She casts a fashion style of a modernistic mother who has gained a little bit of weight. With more than 42,000 likes on Facebook, Zuena is comfortably competing with Barbie as far as a big fanbase is concerned. She posts infrequently, leaving her husband to do most of her publicity.
Daniella Atim (Chameleone’s wife)
Reserved, introverted, quiet, a loner, princess in her own world, all those are words that can be used to describe Daniella Atim. She is as rare as an eclipse. Yet behind this veil is a woman of sizeable activities. She has spent the last two years supervising her real estate projects in the Agago Town where among other things she has constructed two apartments.
Back in Kampala, Daniella has been ensuring that the family meets the deadlines and pays up a number of mortgages. One of those is reclaiming their Seguku home that had been auctioned by a bank. When contacted for more details about the mortgages, Daniella was out of reach with her known numbers switched off.
Despite rumours last year that Chameleone and Daniella Atim had broken up again, activities this year have proved this assertion false. In April this year, Daniella joined her brother-in-law, Weasel on a weekend where they learned to shoot guns together. A month earlier, she had invited the media to be part of a birthday party thrown for one of her sons at their Seguku home.
For most of her time, Daniella is preoccupied with running a charity foundation that she co-founded with at least five other friends. The Friends for Charity foundation has been involved in a number of activities ranging from empowering women and girls in rural areas to helping lift the poor and needy out of their sorry situations. Unlike Barbie Itungo’s organisation that is focused on the youth, Daniella’s foundation tackles a number of challenges and is not limited to a given audience. She also runs a boutique in the heart of Kampala, even though it is managed by a sibling. Daniella is also currently the defacto property manager for Chameleone’s real estate investments.
Yet some sources dispute this version of the story, arguing that Daniella is just like Zuena – settled into her zone of comfort as a house-wife. Chameleone and Daniella have four children together and it must be a load of work raising that good number of children.
On social media: Although Daniella has a Facebook account, her presence is a true reflection of her character. She’s almost absent on the platform and her Timeline has been redundant for the past one year. However, when she appeared at the Abryanz Style and Fashion Awards in 2014, she was honoured with an award. She was crowned as the Best dressed female guest.
Scandals: Not free from scandals, the pencil-thin first lady of Leone Island once showed up at the Monitor Publications offices in 2012 where she slapped Kasuku, a journalist at Dembe FM. She accused him of tarnishing her name with false stories. Daniella was to spend a night in the cells before being bailed out.
Samira Tumi (Weasel’s wife)
In 2014, Weasel of the Goodlyf duo was introduced by Samira Tumi in Jinja. Samira had dated the late AK 47, Weasel’s brother. Of all artistes’ wives, Samira had openly embraced the role of a socialite. And one can say she rotates around playing the socialite role to being a stay-at-home mother. One is more likely to meet Samira in a night club, at a social event or at the couple’s home in Makindye.
Social media: She spends most of her time on Instagram posting pictures of herself and her son.
Scandals: In October 2015, a photo of Samira passionately kissing a fellow girl circulated on social media. The girl in question was Tafleh Hany, according to the names she uses on Facebook. The incident happened in an unknown hangout around town and the public criticised Weasel’s madam for embarrassing him. Shockingly though, a source close to Weasel said he did not mind the photo.
The rest of Uganda’s top music stars are yet to legalise their relationships. Among these are Eddy Kenzo and Rema who are both actively pursuing music careers. There is also the musical couple of Mowzey Radio and Lillian Mbabazi.