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Kyagulanyi: Now a lawyer but won’t stop the music

Sylver Kyagulanyi says despite the demands that come with being a lawyer, music is his first love. PHOTO BY Michael Kakumirizi

DOUBLE PATHS: He is a guitarist, singer, songwriter, lover of literature and now an advocate. Sylver Kyagulanyi was among the 144 lawyers that graduated at the Law Development Centre last month. We know he has been a tad quiet on the music scene, but we wonder if his new career means a definite end to music.

Congratulations, Sylver. We see the musician we know will now be speaking legal language.
Oh well, it is probably God’s plan. Once he decides that Sylver will become a lawyer, no one can stop that. It has not been easy though. Truth be told, juggling music and law books at ago is not a simple thing, but I am happy that at the end everything went smoothly.

Why did you think of taking on law?
I know being an advocate is a duty but it comes mainly in a true calling. I was given a gift as a musician but I have a calling of a lawyer as well. Music is my life. It has groomed me to become an advocate, so I want to see how the two; music and law can work together.

So, what will you specialise in?
An advocate is an officer at court. When the person comes to you, you point them to a remedy but my area of practice will be intellectual property. I will do a lot of public litigation cases in different areas, for example copyright law, which is wide by the way. When you talk about copyright, even the computer software we use is a copyright. All the articles you journalists write also fall under copyright.

How are you going to manage family, music and legal matters?
I am married with three children, music is my best part; it calms me down, has made me who I am. So after all the court work, it is nice to chill with my guitar in my Sikia studio in Ntinda. I will be doing some good music for my fans, but with a higher duty as an advocate.What is important is balance; I have to protect the integrity of the legal fraternity as well as protect the integrity of the music fraternity.

Last year we only heard Tonefulira. Was it books that kept your music at a stalemate?
Yes, because whenever I am writing or composing a song, I must have a settled mind. I am not the type of person who rushes to release half-baked songs. You cannot compose a nice song when you are 70 per cent engaged in other stuff.

So should we expect any song this year?
With law, reading is like an order. I cannot say that I am done with books. It is just the beginning. But I have been in the studio cooking up something for my fans. I also have plans to go back to school for a my Masters.

What is your take on the state of the music industry in Uganda today?
The most important happening is the proposed regulations on the music industry where every artiste shall need a licence to operate. My take on the regulations, honestly as a lawyer, is that we need to clearly look into them.
They have no legal basis because they are purportedly brought under what we call Stage Plays and Public Entertainment Act. Unfortunately, under that Act, it does not enable them. An Act of Parliament is a statute, a regulation is a statutory instrument, which must be drawn from a statute which will clearly provide for an instrument.

Why do you think the government is referring to that Act now?
The Act does not mention the ministry of Gender as the line ministry because the line ministry in that Act is the Ministry of Works, why? This is a 1943 statute and it was designed to help the colonial government shield itself from these elements or the outcome of the freedom of expression.
Do not forget that it was a repressive government. So, now after the amendment of the 1995 Constitution such laws have no place.
Away from legal matters, do you think Uganda will wake up one day to someone singing like Sylver Kyagulanyi?
Well, that is a tough question. But I would love to one day see someone doing so when I am still alive. It will make me happy because it is partly why we are here.
We imitate, learn, work and lastly teach others.

What motivates you everyday?
Well, the biggest motivator is life and the need to be useful. I always want to be useful, that is why every human does not want to outlive their usefulness; the idea is that we are not on earth forever, so we have a short time to do what we want.

Last word to artistes?
They should never give up on something. If you want something, go for it. If you are a journalist stay one. Be relevant. If you are a musician stay one. Being a musician to me is a privilege.

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