Love and Music: For almost the entire quarter of last year, Rema Namakula was the talk of town, thanks to her new-found love. But besides Hamza, Rema is perhaps one of the best female vocalists in the Ugandan music industry and there is a story behind her rise to the top. As she prepares for her Valentine’s show tonight, Isaac Ssejjombwe caught up with the singer on music and of course Hamza.
Are you in anyway related to Halima Namakula?
We are both Namakulas, so she cannot be my mother as some people think but we met while I was in P6 through a gentleman called Kharl, who was at some point Grace Nakimera’s manager. He introduced me to Halima and at the time I needed a mother figure in my life. She became that and still is.
Your career started off in Gagamel. How did you get there?
I used to visit Halima’s No End Studio during my school holidays and one time she asked me to back up on Sambagala, featuring Bebe Cool. When he heard the song, he told Halima that he wanted to meet me. We met and he told me that when I finished school, I should join Gagamel. He later came to my school at the time when he was preparing for his Agenze concert and requested for three girls to back him up during the concert. We did not sleep that night because of the excitement. Two days after completing my S6, I called him and reminded him of the offer and he called me for rehearsals.
What was life under management like?
I had a great experience in Gagamel. We did not have issues. I learnt a lot; how to prepare before a show, especially live, how to relate with people because I am a bit laid back and in Gagamel there were so many people. I appreciate the time I spent there because I learnt how the industry is structured and I respect Bebe Cool for that.
Why then did you quit Gagamel?
I always set goals and one of those goals was to be independent. I did not have a contract with Gagamel and I left peacefully, only that it was the public that made it a big deal. I told my boss that I was leaving and he wrote a message on Facebook wishing me all the best.
What is life as a solo artiste like?
As a solo artiste, you get to know when to do what, you get to make decisions, and you develop yourself but most importantly you get to appreciate your talent and make connections.
Was Eddy Kenzo your first cut?
(Laughs) Of course not. Growing up as a young girl I had people who vibed me and stuff. But he was the first person I stayed with in the same house for long. However, our relationship started under the radar because we were friends first.
What is it like dating a fellow artiste?
We did not see each other as artistes. It was boyfriend-girlfriend level. We left the artistes in us at the door before we entered the house and that should be the same case with other celebrity couples.
We heard you had a secret marriage?
We are public figures and if it was true, you would have known it. At this moment I am all about Hamza Sebunya.
He is one of the best things that has happened to me. He is amazing and it is everything I have ever wanted as a wife. Hamza gives me peace and loves me so much. I feel it even when he just looks at me. He gives me the assurance even without me noticing it. He has been a good father to my daughter and they connected immediately they met. No matter what the public says, he is my husband and I will move with him everywhere I go.
During you introduction ceremony, businessman Godfrey Kirumira hinted that you would be performing for only five more years. Is that a shared goal?
Everyone retires. I am not going to sing until I can no longer stand. In my head I think I should sing until I have achieved my goals because when I started singing, I had goals like any other person. Besides, there is a time to be relevant. When I feel I am no longer relevant, that is when I will retire.
How do you balance your relationship and career?
The reason Hamza and I connected was because I wanted someone who was not at all in this business and that is what makes it special. We are just here to support each other and I really wouldn’t want him to be a part of it in any way.
Your Introduction ceremony had people talking and the last we heard was that you were chocking on debts.
I would like to tell people that I am a hardworking woman. My husband and I prepared for this in a month and that is why we did not even hold any meetings but people could not believe what they saw. Anyway, anyone out there who thinks I owe them anything should come out.
Is it true that you denied Kenzo access to Aamal?
Please leave my child out of this.
Have you returned the stuff he entrusted you to keep?
I will not comment on whether I returned them or not but the most important thing is that by the time he gave them to me, he had trusted me to keep them safe.
You have a concert tonight. Why did you choose this day knowing there are other events happening on the same day?
Rema Namakula is all about love and love is what makes the world go round. I believe my fans will come through regardless of other shows happening.
You had quite a successful show in 2018. Why didn’t we have a show from you last year?
I am not one to rush things. A year gives me time to offer something fresh.
Hamza gives me peace and loves me so much. I feel it even when he just looks at me… He has been a good father to my daughter and they connected immediately they met.