Doing it for charity: Bobi Wine is launching his Akalimu album this evening. There is no cover charge and it is the first time a Ugandan artiste has held a big concert free of charge. However, revellers are encouraged to carry items to donate to the people of Bududa who were affected by landslides, writes Edgar R. Batte
What have you been to, musically?
I have just recorded my album titled Akalimu and I did another album titled Africa-Jamaica Connection with Mr G.
How many tracks are on the Africa-Jamaica Connection album?
They are six tracks now but I have to put two more on it and Mr G will add two singles to make it a 10-track album.
Your recent musical success partly rests on your collaboration with Mr G, that resulted in the Clean and Out hit. How did the two of you link up?
Well it was through a friend called DJ Ali and somehow things started happening.
What was it like when you and Mr G met? Did you connect instantly?
I think it was natural. We both have a lot of energy and have a lot of things in common.
Is he someone, you had looked up to as a musician?
Yeah, he is a nice person, a mature artiste and he is business oriented. We just tend to connect because we have a lot of things in common that we do.
What are some of the common things you two do?
He is into real estate and I am also into real estate, he is a musician just like me, he is a father just like me.
How is your Africa-Jamaican connection music project doing?
It is doing well in Jamaica as well as Europe and America.
Have you performed in these parts of the world, particularly promoting music off this project?
Yeah, I have performed in Jamaica, in America particularly in New York at the World Reggae Festival where I represented Africa.
Is there any truth in the talk on the rumourmill that you paid Mr G to do these songs with you?
That is trash. Those are rumours traded by people that are hurt by my endeavours. I am a big artiste so I would not pay any artiste for a collaboration. He just listened to my music and thought I was equally good, so we collaborated.
How did you find Jamaica?
Jamaica is nice. And every time they said I was from Africa, everybody wanted to take a photograph with me.
What does the future of your friendship with Mr G hold?
Great things I should say. We have a good working relationship. I introduced Mr G to the African market and he introduced me to the Jamaican market.
You have invited him for Akalimu concert, it must be a little costly flying in an artiste of his magnitude yet you are making the concert free, what plans do you have of recouping your investment in this concert?
As a person I always wanted to give back to my society. I made the show free but at the entrance everybody is expected to donate stuff that they don’t use like clothes, house hold utilities, blankets and foodstuffs. Basically we are trying to make a difference. I am sure by doing that, we are going to collect four or five times the worth of the money we could have gotten if people were paying for the show. All items collected will be donated to the people of Bududa.
Who has helped you put together this concert?
National Council of Sports (NCS) is on board to work with me, Uganda Red Cross Society, Uganda Telecom, Silk Events and Silver Springs. Basically I have not been charged the way they usually charge. Everybody who understands that the show is free embraces it and gives me free services or at minimal charges.
NCS is on board and they manage Lugogo Cricket Oval, so you must have secured the venue free of charge …
Yes, I got it as a donation, but they are charging us a small fee to cater for cleaning it after the event.
You have undertaken several social causes in terms of giving back to society for example when Owino market got burnt you gave some money, you have helped some orphanages and dug and constructed water channels in your hood of Kamwokya, what drives that kind of spirit in you?
One, I am an artiste from the ghetto that never thought I would be what I am today. I feel obliged to give back to society especially because my success is purely a result of love, that love I get free of charge, so it is my opportunity to give back to society.
Everybody wants money but I get much more than money. I also want to be remembered as Bobi Wine the artiste that initiated that. In a way I want to do something. Well, I have done bad, let me do some good and besides my mission in life is to change lives. By doing that I will be remembered as the champion of change. That is my aim.
You are working with a number of NGOs too which means there could be more than just stage performances, tell us about what this day is going to be all about…
It is going to be a charitable day that is going to bring together several charity organisations to share information. I am in partnership with Uganda Red Cross so there will be a blood donation session and I want celebrity blood donations.
I am calling upon the IGP Kale Kayihura and Hon. Ronald Kibuule to donate blood. We want to use this day as a good day to come together as we reflect on ourselves as a society and our ability to change our society and not wait for any donations. I have travelled to Europe and all I could read about Uganda are landslides in Bududa and the floods in Kasese, but I believe we can change all this. We only need something to bring us together. I will be glad and proud to be the one to bring people together for such a noble cause.
What time does it start?
Gates open as early as midday with blood donation, then HIV/Aids testing and counselling, testimonies and success stories from the ghetto.
You have been running a ghetto talent search so do we expect the winners on that day?
Yes, that is one of the highlights of the day.
Tell me more about this project…
It is a project through which I want to shine a light on young talent that will later on represent because we don’t live forever but our society lives forever. I want to give an opportunity to these guys even if I didn’t get it easy.
In your song Akalimu you sing about the need to respect jobs no matter how society views them, what exactly inspired this song?
My life and the life of other people especially successful people that I look up to, the likes of Godfrey Nyakana, Godfrey Kirumira and John Ssebalamu who are self-made. And then my life. People like Bebe Cool used to diss me that I used to sell pancakes and pick grasshoppers for a living, but it is from these grasshoppers that I got the money to buy my first plot of land. Now on the same street that I walk with him, I own land and he does not own land. No disrespect to anybody but all I am trying to say is there is no bad job and that’s the message I am trying to send out there.
We are seated here at your ‘Semakokiro Plaza’, how did you realise this?
This is not anything really. I wouldn’t want to look at the small structures I have put up and use them to judge my life. I define myself with my ambitions not my success or my achievements. I want to be something and every day I wake up, all I care about is being better than I was yesterday.
What drives you?
The passion to achieve drives me and the history I have gone through. My story drives me. I would not lie to you. I get up every morning and work because of the fear of going back. That keeps me working and turning my world around. It is that passion and desire not to turn go back to where I have been.
You recently put up a performance at the Kampala Carnival under the auspices of KCCA headed by Jennifer Musisi who you stung in your song Tugambire ku Jennifer, what is your relationship with her now?
It is a citizen-authority relationship. There isn’t any special relationship between me and Jennifer Musisi only that she represents the authority and I represent the common people. Not all people, but at least those from where I come from, the ghetto people, the poor people.
What are your views on how she is running the city?
I did not have a major problem with how she runs the city because I am not out there to judge how the city is being run but there was something going on that needed to be talked about especially the way the city dwellers were being handled.
It was just not human. Not that we should not have change but it was so aggressive so when I came up I said, “we appreciate your work but this is what the people are saying, so let’s sit together and see how we can work together.”
She listened to this song and I am glad she saw some sense in it and called me asked me, “So Bobi what are you saying?” I told her I was not out there to protest almost her but to speak about what hurts the people. And soon she called me to grace the festival.
Your parting shot?
I am calling upon all my fans to come and assist our friends who are victims of the landslides in Bududa and Kasese. Bring everything and anything. In return I am going to give you a free show.