I must confess that it is hard to summarise Mowzey Radio’s legacy in a couple of words, and that is not something we are attempting. Instead it is to say, that this is a humble slice at the musical pie that was Mowzey Radio.
On February 1, 2018, a message came in from my editor. “Ian, Mowzey Radio is dead, the ball is in your court to do the story.” I was both as confused as I was scared. Confused because it was hard to believe one of the best of our time had crossed over, scared because it was hard to compress a legend’s life in mere words. Nonetheless, we took on the task and as they say, it is now 2020 and we are back to the task.
It is hard to think of many celebrity deaths that brought Uganda to a standstill, Radio’s death sent a cold shiver down the spine that makes up this country. For once, it was hard to imagine the music industry without its singing soldier.
In 2009, the soldier had taken over the country with his bosom buddy, Weasel. Together, they had outed Uganda’s first experiment with auto-tune. The result was the amazing ‘Nakudata’. They sang about the longing and wanting they had for someone, little did they know, we would reciprocate with a similar attachment to their music.
Let it also be said, that our flaws, in as much as we hide from them, try to contain them, it could be impossible to imagine us without those flaws. It is probable that without Radio’s flaws, we would never get to see his strengths. It is through these flaws that his beauty got to be revealed.
One of those flaws was the ability to take on anyone. He did most of this through music. Bebe Cool was to be the number one victim. Given that Bebe Cool is obsessed with Zuena, there was no better thing than to have a song titled, ‘Zuena‘. It stung so hard that Bebe Cool found a way of grooming a duo just to counteract the bite. The result was the famous Kiwoko boys aka Eighton and Rain. They released other songs such as Sitaani, Ekibaala, all aimed at hitting at someone. Together, there was a story or two for the gossip pages.
Beating the odds
Beyond the controversy, one would have to recognise the duo for being the longest-lasting musical duo in the country. Most musical duos in Uganda never leave to witness their first birthdays, it was never the case with the Goodlyfe. Year on year, rumour on rumour, they kept proving us wrong, holding fort together.
Let’s once again get back to Mowzey Radio the person. The greatest of his artistry was revealed in his songwriting and composition flair. To find a song that flows from verse to verse, telling a smooth story, that is an ability accorded to a few musicians, Mowzey was one of them. It was often said when a man in love lacked the words to say to a girl, all he needed was to plug and play with some lyrics of Mowzey Radio. He was what song of songs was to the lovers in the letter-writing days. He was a musical Shakespeare, humming out to us the Hamlets and Tempests of our musical times.
To rephrase Shakespeare: “Some men are born talented, some achieve talent, and some have talent thrust upon them.” Mowzey Radio fell in the latter. Talent was thrust upon him, it was a heavy burden to care. For on those humble legs of a Jinja boy, stood a pillar of the music industry. He was never afraid of experimenting with a different style. He could sing on anything and still make you gyrate with passion to the song. He sang about bread and butter, sang about kuku, sang about juice, and we had no option but to take from the source of never-ending music.
But the Heavens did want a share of this talent. It is often said Heaven tends to only take the best, the most qualified. As the year came to an end, the country would come to learn the Mowzey Radio had been involved in a scuffle and was thus admitted to hospital. It is a story many did not take seriously. Photos from a music video shoot with Spice Diana did not make it any better. Many thought it better to interpret this story as a way of creating buzz for the song. Or perhaps, we all wished it was the lie we thought it was.
On February 1, the lie turned out to be true. A dark cloud hovered above the skies. The thing which we always feared was now upon us. We had tried to move on from Menton Summer, Paul Kafeero, Sera, AK47 to mention but a few. Now here we were, being expected once again, to move on.
We had no option but to sing along to songs such as Mukama Nyongera Amanyi, for we needed strength. We sang along to Tambula Nange for we needed a higher power to hold our hands through the storm. Heaven had missed an angel, Mowzey Radio was the angel of our time. To say Radio is irreplaceable is an understatement, the best we can do, is convince ourselves that he did not die, for death is not to musical legends, we can believe that through his music, he keeps checking on us, his humble musical ear servants. In listening, playing, and dancing to his songs, we get to keep in touch.
Rest in Power!