BOWING OUT: It started out as the Nile Gold Jazz Safari and last year they rebranded to the Johnnie Walker RnB & Soul Safari. Now after 11 years of promoting jazz and soul music, the man behind this thing is bowing out! Tshaka ‘Roots’ Mayanja will not be organising the event anymore and Nicolas Akasula had a chat with him on why and what next.
Eleven years of the jazz safari. Tell us about the start of this journey.
We started this thing in 2008 sponsored by Club beer, then MTN Uganda took over in 2009, that is when we had one edition here and another in Kigali.
In 2010, Nile Gold took over title sponsorship until 2016 when they handed over to Johnnie Walker. This year was our 11th edition, but I have been involved in international concerts since 1995.
We just heard that you called it a wrap after Ginuwine’s show. Can you confirm that?
Yes, I did. I have been organising music platforms and shows since I was 13 years old. It is a lot of work and it takes a huge toll on a person. I cannot run away from music, as that is the equivalent of me running away from myself. I will still be involved in music, not as an executive producer, but as a consultant, contractor and producer of music events.
What is the major reason you pulled out?
It is a big financial burden to pull off events of this magnitude consistently for more than 20 years. I thought about the elders I found in this business 20 years ago, most of them are dead. The few who are alive are not involved in music anymore, they do not even want to hear the word music promoter. It is a special calling, so I give thanks to the most high and my ancestors through whom I am spiritually guided. The sponsors and partners will continue with these platforms, and I am available to work with them to ensure continuity.
Since this was your last show, shouldn’t we have heard a bit of more hype and a celebration or announcement?
Hype is just that… hype! I am not interested in fanfare. I believe in doing the work, not hype. It is not like I am dead. I cannot stand music that is not done to perfection; be it concerts or in the studio. Thirty years is a long time in this business. What makes it worth it is seeing the growth of music and events in this country. My reward is seeing this growth, and the blessings.
But you were earning big from this. Do we see you moving into a project (s) that measure up?
That is where you are wrong. Ever wondered why there aren’t many music promoters that stay in the game for as long as I have? And not just here, but worldwide? It is very difficult to pull off great events and make lots of money. I do not believe in shortcuts when it comes to music. Every penny from sponsors and partners goes into the event. What I have earned is what my calling was; the growth of the music industry in Uganda and East Africa, not the growth of me the individual.
You can do your research; I am not rich nor wealthy, by any standards. I live a very modest life, but I am not complaining. I was chosen to do this work, and I am grateful the most high and my ancestors chose me to do this work.