Finding music: Ivuga, coined from a Luganda word ebivuga that means instruments is a band composed of artistes from different walks of professional life; a dental surgeon, veterinary doctor, IT graduates and an engineer. The dream to form the band started at a funeral of one Paul Ssenyonga, a music teacher. Without capital but passion, the journey proved difficult but never impossible. Today, the 10 professionals find time to entertain audiences at weddings, in bars and are working on some original songs. Edgar R. Batte brings you their stories.
Edmond Muyomba, keyboard player; Dental surgeon
The founder, bandleader and keyboardist, Muyombya had been inspired by Ssenyonga to pay attention to music detail right from Senior One at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Gayaza.
“At his burial, with friends, we thought of starting up something inspired by him. He was a very humble music teacher. Good piano player that inspired me to learn and push the basics of my piano playing to the limits,” he recounts.
Much as by day Muyombya is a dental surgeon at Abii Clinic in Wandegeya, music is a lifetime passion he cherishes; he finds time for rehearsals and performance.
He notes that putting together the band was a journey: “Some believed in the dream and others moved on to do pursue other projects.
Without equipment, it was Allan Semakula, a manager of Nina’s Pub in Namugongo that gave Ivuga a chance, in April 2013.
“After a year, we managed to put up a three-hour show and the audience love it,” Muyomba recollects.
Then a choir leader at St. Augustine Chapel, he would receive recommendations of artistes people thought would add something to the band, one of these was Phillip Lubega who sat with Muyombya to find ways they could get equipment and professionalize their performances.
Lubega convinced his father to get him some money to enable him follow his music dream.
Today, the band is more than the cover songs they have been known for to recording original compositions they are yet to release.
Noel Tracy Birungi, vocalist
In 2013 while a first year student at university, Tracy Birungi took the first professional shot at music by competing in Tusker Project Fame (TPF).
“I was kicked out on age basis because I was not yet 21 years old.”
She later tried her luck with the Coca-Cola Rated Next in 2015 but only managed the sixth position but still went on to independently record a single, Kasita at Audio One, with Paddyman.
The song opened doors to Drumex Band, Akaalo Band and Urban Soul Band.
Last year, she auditioned to join Ivuga Band and was considered early this year. She is one of the band’s lead vocalists thanks to her warm and soulful stage delivery.
Jackline Kakayi, vocalist; veterinary doctor
At Trinity College Nabbingo, Jackline Kakayi was a religious minister leading praise and worship before and during mass.
Being a catholic school, Nabbingo would have conferences with catholic schools in Kampala; the conference coordinator, Father Dennis Ssebugwawo, liked Kakayi’s leadership skills and passion for worship, he encouraged her to continue singing.
When she joined Makerere University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine, the first place she looked for on the campus premises was the chapel.
A member of the St. Kizito choir, Kakayi was well aware of other choirs like St. Peter and St. Cecilia, which her current boss, Muyomba, played among other roles.
The two songs earned her a place in Ivuga Band and to date, music is a big part of her daily fixture on top of treating cats and dogs at Amazon Animal Clinic, in Munyonyo.
Samuel Ssekasi, percussionist
Music seems to run in the Ssekasi family. Samuel Ssekasi is brother to Janzi’s Abraham Ssekasi. Both are percussionists.
Samuel was a child that got drawn to instruments like the tube fiddle, African drums and the Adungu that were readily available as he grew up.
Under the guidance of his uncle and founder of Empire Cultural Troupe, Timothy Ssembyayo, he learnt how to dance and play instruments at a professional level.
He has since mastered the fusion of African instruments with modern ones.
Today, Samuel is a regular performer alongside artistes like Shifa Musisi, Unit 446, Bebe Cool, King Saha, Eddy Kenzo, Bobi Wine, Mizizi Ensemble, Crane Performers, Agwata Cultural Troupe and Ivuga Band.
Marvin Muhangi, vocalist; music student
During high school, with music plugged in, Marvin Muhangi debated within himself on what he wanted to pursue for a career.
He almost settled for law, though during Senior Four, in 2015, he questioned whether he wanted to be a lawyer.
“I have been singing since I was eight. My family has a background of singers and instrumentalists,” he explains.
Like Samuel Ssekasi, Muhangi stopped his pursimg of conventional studies in Senior Four and opted to study music.
He is a student at Africa Institute of Music (AIM) which is part of his dream to become a music producer.
Muhangi joined the band through a friend, a vocalist that was quitting for another band at the time: “I went to their Facebook page and introduced myself. Eventually, they asked me to go to their rehearsal venue in Old Kampala,” he recalls.
Ivan Jjemba, bass guitarist; automotive engineer
Ivan Jjemba was taught how to play the bass guitar by fellow student Patrick Wwatta at Seroma Christian High School in 2006.
“When he was doing his personal rehearsals, I would go in to ask to learn. He was amazed at how quickly I learnt,” Jjemba recounts. Three years later, while in Senior Six vacation, he started his professional music journey with Thunders Band, to Music People 2013.
The same year, he joined Urban Soul where he continues to play to date, as his side gig.
He joined Ivuga in 2015, first as a part-timer, when their bass guitarist, Jeir Mulyowa, was way. He was later that year integrated into the group. His plan is to invest more time in fine-tuning his skills as a guitarist so that someday he can hold his own in concert. Jjemba studied automotive engineering at Kyambogo University.
Phillip Lubega, music director; sound engineer
The King’s College Budo band is one of the platforms that has given birth to a number of musicians. It is no surprise that when Philip Lubega joined the school, he attended and listened to the band and liked what he heard.
He got drawn in. “My initial interest was learning how to drum. I approached the bandleaders and asked to learn. The chairman of the band then, Benjamin Ndugga, became my friend. I asked to join the band and I was taken on,” he recounts.
Lubega joined the school band in Senior Two, in 2004 and his love of music kept growing. He started investing in growing his knowledge and skill set by paying for online tutorials. His father would give him money to pay for the research and tutorials.
Along the way, he met Muyomba who was starting Ivuga. Someone recommended Lubega to him. “We met and decided to do music together. We pushed. We still had a hustle of acquiring machines. We literary had nothing but wanted to do something,” he recollects.
His team at church had machines that had been acquired through fundraising. They lent Lubega some of the machines that helped Ivuga to rehearse: “We would rehearse in hostel rooms. We started getting places to play at,” he narrates.
The band started picking up got their own sound system which they would hire out: “We started getting jobs here and there, started making money. Some members left but we kept on and have grown the band to what it is today.”
Moses Menya Waiswa, drummer; IT graduate
He started doing music at seven years, in Primary Two . He played local drums at St. Donozio Ssebugwawo, Kisubi where he learnt through watching people sounding the drums.
“Teachers discouraged me because I was young. My parents also didn’t like me to do music but this gave me reason to love music the more. Even when I was sick, music was my therapy. I would listen to Alpha FM, for gospel music,” Waiswa recalls. This was in 2004.
In 2012, he joined Music People band, which had been started by people he had studied with in high school, at Seroma Christian High School. Many instrumentalists live by pay of each gig they perform at and soon Waiswa was hoping from one band to another.
This favoured him because bands rehearse and perform on different days. He played for Magic Horns then Urban Soul. In 2014, he joined Music Connections, which is run by Dr. Benon Kigozi, a music lecturer at Makerere University performing school.
With time, the lecturer interested him to teach at Kampala International School Uganda (KISU). He was with Music Connections for three years. He joined Ivuga Band last year.
Daniel Kabunga, guitarist; Industrial engineer
Daniel Kabunga was drawn to the sound of the guitar while listening to Hillsong music in his Senior Six vacation in 2009.
As a member of Sseguku Worship Centre choir, he learnt guitar during choir practice: “I got an acoustic guitar from my uncle. I would learn from watching and following messages in YouTube videos,” he explains.
When he joined university to pursue industrial engineering, he went out looking for a performance home. He got an opening with Ivuga Band. The guitarist who played for the band, Bruce Byaruhanga, had many bands to play for so he recommended him to join Ivuga.