KING SAHA: While many artistes are fighting for their music to cross borders, King Saha is not really interested. The Mwana Gwe singer says he is comfortable with his Ugandan fanbase because he is afterall, a local artiste. Saha talked to ISAAC SSEJJOMBWE about his third concert, why the ladies love him and why he is returning to school.
First things first. What is your real name and what inspired King Saha?
My real name is Mansur Semanda. Before I started doing music, I used to play football and my friends named me Saha after the former France footballer, but I also believe it stemmed from the fact that I am a staunch Manchester United fan. The king bit was given to me by Jose Chameleone who gave it to me around 2012 because of how talented I was.
Rumour has it that before Saha became a big brand, he was making bricks, fishing and doing other odd jobs. How true is this?
I never did those jobs, but I grew up in such an environment. It is of late that I have started making bricks and farming in Nakawuka. I do those jobs both for commercial purposes and my own consumption.
But isn’t the music industry paying you much already?
King Saha is a hustler. I will do any kind of job as long as it is paying. I am using my talent in music to get capital to start up other business because that is what I studied at campus.
Tell us about your education?
I have a diploma in Business Administration which I completed in 2012 at Buganda Royal Institute. But I want to pursue Law sometime soon.
I want to reorganise Uganda. I want to be that musician that does it, and I will do it. A diploma is not good enough. I am willing to finance myself for five years until I graduate and I will start next year in April.
You said Chameleone gave you the name ‘King’, were you part of his Leone Island?
Yes, I was part Leone Island, although it is not where I started my career from. I started singing from Kigungu in Entebbe with my childhood friends in a group we called ‘Blessed Family’. Then I joined producer Didi’d Bonfire. It was there that Chameleone saw me perform and took me to Leone Island. I was there for a year then decided to start my own Kings Love Empire.
Leone Island is one of the biggest musical groups. Why did you leave?
I believe I had matured enough to start my own empire. I felt that we could not be two brands in one record label. That is why I left with manager Sam Mukasa.
Among your songs, which would you say is your favourite?
My latest, ‘Kosazewo Onjagale’. I am one of the most loved artistes in the music industry now yet it was not the case previously.
Your song Mulilwana seems to have been your breakthrough. Was it inspired by personal experience?
I would not say it was my breakthrough song because I had some nice songs back then, although Mulilwana took me to another level. It was just an idea that crossed my mind and I wrote about it.
Some people think your songs are x-rated. Is this so?
That is not true. I can never get vulgar because I am a mummy’s boy. How can my mum hear me singing something unpleasant?
You are very talented but one thing we cannot ignore is that your voice is similar to Moze Radio’s. Do you also see that?
You cannot copy someone’s voice. Music has a style and maybe our style is the same and you will see other people come up trying to sing like me. Namirembe Church choir sings the same way as Rubaga but you cannot say they are copying each other. I have branded myself from way back.
What is your style of music?
I am a love artiste. I sing music that puts people in love.
Would we be right if we said you appeal mostly to the ladies?
That is true, because it is mostly women who support me. Also at most of the weddings I perform at, it is always the brides who request for me.
Where does that leave your male fans?
I also have a few tracks for the men, like Teziwela.
Do you think you have contributed anything to the music industry?
I have done a lot for this industry. When I joined this career, there were no artistes in my age bracket. I was 22. Give me any musician who made a name at that age.
Why did you decide to join this career?
I just found myself singing. I joined the industry not for money but to fill the missing gap and I want to be remembered as that artiste who did so. Among all the artistes in Uganda, I am the most sought for to sing at weddings, introductions and parties and that is because my songs appeal to such functions.
Are you married?
All I can say is that Saha is a responsible man. I have children, although I cannot tell you the number and I have a wife.
Last weekend, we heard that you were nabbed with a married woman in Namasuuba. How true is this story?
This is what really happened. I was driving home on Saturday evening and found a boda guy I knew being beaten. I could not just look on. The mob asked me not to intervene, so to save the boda guy from being killed, I sprayed them with my paper spray but tabloids concocted the whole story. I can never be engaged in such matters.
What careers do you want your children to take?
I am going to educate them so that they all become lawyers and in fact it is one of the reasons I am returning to school. I want to inspire them to follow in my footsteps.
Saturday is the day for your Mwana Gwe concert. How many concerts have you had before?
Two; Mulilwana at Theatre Labonita, Gundeze at Freedom City. Mwana Gwe at Freedom City will be my third.
Your previous shows have all sold out. What different thing should your fans expect?
During my first concert at Labonita, many fans were left out because it was a small venue so we decided to take the second concert to a bigger venue, and it was filled to capacity. In fact I now have a record of filling the venue to the extent that management locks hundreds of fans out. If this happens tomorrow, we shall find another solution.
Why have you decided to have a concert in November?
In November, people’s problems are always limited. Those who have children have already paid school fees, some candidates will have finished their exams, so it is basically a month to celebrate.
What should someone who will be attending this concert for the first time expect?
There will be a live band, I have dancers this time round and all the artistes I have collabos with will be there. I will perform for at least three hours.
Some artistes are known to take something before getting on stage. Do you?
No I don’t. I am a staunch Muslim who does not believe in such. I go on stage without consuming anything, just water.
What does Islam say about your kind of music?
What I know is that Islam as a religion has no problem with music if someone is looking for money but it condemns someone abusing the religion through music.
We see many Ugandan artistes trying hard to get on MTV, Trace – basically crossing borders. What is your strategy?
I am not going anywhere. I am a local artiste. I am a Ugandan artiste who will continue to serve my Ugandan fans. I am not interested in going international. What more could I want if I can please more than 20,000 fans.
Then what is your goal in music?
My goal is to sing, get capital and start other businesses that Ugandans will also benefit from.
How far are you you on that?
So far so good; I have poultry farm with 20,000 birds and 30,000 eucalyptus trees on my 18-acre piece of land.
Should we assume some of that came from the Tubonga Naawe project?
Surprisingly, I never got any money from Tubonga Naawe. I just went there to sing and that was it. My participation was nothing related to finances and I was never affected by being part of the song. So I consider it one of the songs that people never liked among my songs.
Who are some of the people you have impacted in this industry?
There are so many. I contributed in bringing up Winnie Nwagi through our collabo Science, Ziza Bafana in our song Bantu Baffe – he was able to have a successful concert, and Gravity Omutujju as well because we have two songs together; Winner and Vimba. There are many more I have written songs for.
Music: Mulilwana, Gundeze, Sayansi, Mwana Gwe, Winner, Togwamu Suubi Tonfako, Pretty, Suzana, Tereza, Bantu Baffe, among others.
Family background: Born to Awusi Kaweesi and Harriet Babirye. Has one sister and is the only musician in the family.
School: St Agnes Primary Shool, Agalyaawamu Primary School, Kajjansi Progressive, Nkumba Secondary and Buganda Royal Institute.