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Four One One

Amani Amaniga: All about selling culture

Who is Amani Amaniga?
Amani Amaniga is my stage name but my real name is Asumani Amani Byaruhanga. I am a Mukiga from Nyabikoni, Kabale District. I am a down to earth and very straight forward guy.
I take my music career seriously but also see things in perspective. Besides that, I am also a realist and I cope well when the going gets tough.

What kind of music do you do?
I do Afro hip-hop (Kiga flow) but musically, I am versatile, I can freestyle on any beat. I grew up listening to Rukiga poetry (Ebyevugo) and when I started writing my own music, it was very easy for me to flow in rap.

Why Kiga flow?
It is basically part of my culture and that is why we even believe that rap originated from this side of Africa.

And family background?
Both my parents died so I grew up as an orphan under the care of Shanklin Babu, a businessman in Kabale Town.
I am also a single father of two.

What happened to the mother of your children?
We separated.

What happened?
It is something I cannot explain.

Mbarara is full of talent. What strategy do you have to cross over to Kampala?
True, Mbarara is full of talent but my number one strategy is the kind of genre I do. Afro Hip-hop is an urban style that can be enjoyed by anyone all over the world regardless of the language you rhyme in.
I am one of the few artistes from western Uganda doing it at a professional level. Secondly, I have partnered with the right people to handle my management.

Tell me about your favourite song and the story behind it
I have two. Kemerwa and Zagwa. Kemerwa is about encouraging people not to lose hope and trust in God during hard times while Zagwa is Rukiga for “Things have fallen” and it is about celebrating good times.

What is your dream in music?
My dream is to become a great artiste in the Ugandan music industry and also be remembered as one who took Kiga flow music to another level, promoted my culture through my music to boundaries beyond my country.

You performed at the Purple Party in Mbarara. What was that experience like?
Purple Party was a great experience. I had not performed at such a big event in Mbarara, seeing fans sing along to the chorus of my songs was awesome. It was also a good opportunity to connect with my fellow artistes, friends and fans whom I sometimes take long to meet.

Besides music, do you do any other business?
It is entirely music for me at the moment.

What is the most memorable thing you have encountered in this career?
It was in 2014 at the Radio West Kinihiro Concert in Kakyeka Stadium. When my time to perform reached, I was told that my CD was broken and so I could not perform. I immediately asked for a microphone from the MC and asked my fans if I could give them a freestyle. They all shouted in unison “Go on Go on”.
I went on to perform most of my songs in Acapella style and it was massive. That experience taught me that in whatever you do, you should always have Plan B. I even went ahead and recorded a song out of that experience called Tukikole Bata.

We all know T-Bro as the creator of Kiga Flow, why would you say you want to be remembered as the artiste who took Kiga flow to another level?
True, T-Bro coined the term “Kiga Flow” and introduced the chapter to the masses and we do respect him for that but when you listen to my style, I think I am the true definition of Kiga Flow.

Amaniga’s beginnings and hustle

I started doing music way back when I was still in primary school. In 2003, I started doing karaoke and used to mime local songs, mostly Jose Chameleone’s. In fact, karaoke fans in Kabale had nicknamed me young Chameleone.
In 2009, I developed the urge of recording my own songs and that is when I recorded and released my first single Omukiga W’omuniga, which became an instant hit in my home district.
Since then, I have released many other songs such as Kemerwa, Gyimuhereza, Kyahweire and Guma, among others, plus my latest track, Zagwa, whose audio and video are both doing well on radio and television. I have won many music awards in the western region and the recent one was 2016 Western Hip-hop Artiste of the Year in the Hip Hop Awards.

I have come across a lot of challenges like any other up coming artiste but the biggest being how to get my music playing in regions beyond the west. But with time, I will overcome because my managers are handling the promotional part. There is also unnecessary competition that sometimes turns out as beef but to me that is not a challenge, in fact it is part of my inspiration to make sure that I go an extra mile.

Chameleone inspired me a lot but right now, my inspiration comes from my past, present and just anything which relates to me.

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