UNFORGETTABLE TIMES.The Triplets Ghetto Kids commonly known as the Sitya Loss dancers or the Ghetto Kids returned from the US last week, where they had gone to perform at the BET Awards. They were the first Ugandans and the first African dancers to perform at the BET Awards. Lawrence Ogwal caught up with the dancers and they talked about their US experience.
First time in the US, what was it like?
The experience was good, it felt amazing going to a country we never expected to ever go to. And on top of all that, going as entertainers, we were so proud of ourselves and give all the thanks back to God.
How did you feel when you heard that you were going to perform at the BET?
It was two weeks to the BET when our manager Dauda Kavuma broke the news to us. We were so excited about the news and we felt two weeks was a long time because we could not wait. We started doing rehearsals with our manager, who is also our trainer.
The BET stage was tricky, how did you manage to dance on it?
We arrived in the US two days before the awards ceremony and rehearsed on the stage. An American choreographer was hired to teach us how to use the stage well but still with our manager’s help. It was a bit hard but we managed to pull it off.
Didn’t you get stage fright when you were announced next on stage?
We developed goose bumps backstage because we knew we were performing infront of thousands of people and big stars such as Chris Brown, P-Diddy, Mayweather, Rihanna among others.
How did the crowd react to your performance?
The crowd was not only happy with our performance but they gave us a standing ovation. It was nice looking at the crowd and stars were on their feet clapping after our performance. The other best moment was when we found Chris Brown backstage and he thanked us for the good performance.
Haven’t you missed too much at school while away for two months?
While in the US, we were home schooled and at the same time attending schools in the US where we studied both the local and international syllabus. It was for the whole time we were there. We attended school at Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lowell Massachusetts.
Are you back in school now?
At the moment we are homeschooling because our fellow students at Uganda Martyrs School in Lubaga were ahead of us. We have teachers from there coming home to help us and at the same time we are studying online with Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lowell.
What did you learn having spent two months in the US?
We learnt that everyone in this world deserves to be respected and at the same time they should respect others. However rich, poor, old or young, people should be taken equally. We saw this while in the US, French Montana treated us as family and never at any point did he show that he was not happy being around us.
Were you staying at his home in the US?
Our international manager together with Montana got us a house in the US. We are not sure if he bought it for us but he told us that whenever we come to the US, it is where we shall be staying. We slept in hotels whenever we went for shows far away from home.
What did you hate about your stay in the US?
Apart from being homesick, the weather was very bad. We found them in summer and the sun was unbearable. It was only fortunate that none of us got sick and we are glad we came back home healthier than we left.
Were there stories of people who hated you because you went for BET?
Such stories are always there but we have to keep focused and do what we have to do. On the other hand, we thank Ugandans for not showing us bad blood but rather applauding us for raising the Ugandan flag. The posts on social media were overwhelming and it made us proud.
Do you think you guys have now made it in life?
We do not think we have made it in life because many things are yet to come on our side as the sky is the limit. Who knew we would go for BET? Let’s just sit back and wait for what God brings our way.
What is one thing you wished for while in the US?
As you all know, our group is missing someone, someone who was our brother. While on that stage, we wished Alex Ssempijja had not died and was on stage performing with us that evening.
What is your advice to young people out there?
We advise young people out there, especially those hailing from the Ghetto to stay in school but never sit on their talents. It is because of music, dance and drama that we are about to achieve our dreams.
The kids will make their choices at 18 – manager
How did you meet French Montana?
We met French Montana after he used our random YouTube video and edited it into a dance video for his song Unforgettable. It was after that video went viral that our international manager Chishala Bakunda, who is a Zambian living in the US connected us to Swae Lee. They then came to Uganda and decided to shoot the video with us and since he wanted a slum area, we took him to Ndeeba.
By the time you were invited to the US, did everyone have travel documents?
We had processed passports when we were supposed to go for the Ellen Show in the US. Montana with the help of his lawyers helped process our travel documents in just four days. He got for us the P.1 Visa that allows one to perform and even work in the US.
Was it in plan that after BET there would be other shows? The plan was actually to perform and stay in the US for one year before we returned to Uganda but since we still had a lot of projects to do in Uganda, we decided to come back. Besides that, our trip to the US was to perform for French Montana at BET and maybe do some other extra shows but things changed after our performance. We were booked for other tours in different states in the US and other shows included dance tutorials at different colleges.
How much were you paid to perform at BET?
BET did not pay us any money; they paid it to French Montana. It was only Nickelodeon and Jimmy Fallon that paid us $900 (about Shs3.2m) for each dancer for the different shows but the money was put on their Child Trust Fund and they will access it when they are 18 years old.
How do you feel when they are not in school?The VISAs that Montana got us allow the children to attend school in the US but I plan to enroll them in international schools because very soon, my plan is to take them to the US.We notice one of the dancers, Man King, did not return to Uganda.Everyone is asking where Man King is but he stayed in the US because he has some projects with Swae Lee and another female rapper called Chloe. By the time we were leaving, he was not done with most of his projects and since in the group he is not a dancer but a singer, we had to leave him that side. He has an album he is working on and he has to shoot videos for the songs.
Who is he staying with in the US?He is staying with our international manager. We will return with him when we travel for our show in Australia later this year.
Now that you have a BET performance on your CV, has your price tag gone up?
Truthfully, the brand has become very big because we have to buy expensive costumes worth Shs3m or Shs4m. Before, we used to perform at any event but that will change now. We will not be performing at any event, but rather only high-end events and our negotiating price will be $3,000 (Shs10m).
What are your plans after BET?
We still have many projects to do. We shot a video for our new dance song called Asante, a gospel song. We are also going to open dance classes for young children from the streets aged six to 10 years.
What is your future with the pioneers of Ghetto Kids?
I will continue taking care of them until they turn 18, then they can make their own decisions, even if it involves leaving the group.
Do you have any kind of relationship with French Montana besides performing with him?
French Montana is like our father now. He has showed us love and to him, it is more than performing in his video. While in the US, he told me something big that will help us and it made me shed tears. It showed how much love he has for us but for now, I prefer to keep it a secret until he does it but just know it is something that is life-changing.