WHAT HAPPENED? Singer Pius Mayanja, alias Pallaso, was in South Africa a few weeks ago. He had travelled alongside comedians Madrat and Chiko but they returned and he stayed for other engagements. A few days later, social media was ablaze with reports that Pallaso had been attacked. Lawrence Ogwal caught up with the ‘Hana‘ singer on his return last week.
It was your first time in South Africa. Did you get the experience you had dreamt of?
Growing up, South Africa was one of the countries I always wished to visit. I loved South Africa because of people such as Steve Biko, Lucky Dube, Sarafina and Yanki Zulu. I was happy to get there for the first time and while there, I enjoyed my stay but well, I cannot fail to say there is a dark part of South Africa, a very dark part where I went and was beaten up by people whom I later learnt are called Tafoteni — a notorious gang in South Africa.
When you narrated the story, many Ugandans said it was a publicity stunt. Was it?
When I was in pain and crying for help, I was more hurt hearing that most of my people back in Uganda were calling it a stunt. The media also turned against me and wrote bad stories, attaching me to women and narcotic substances. I thank God that I managed to come back home alive, thanks to the Ugandans in South Africa who helped and protected me.
After the incident, we saw you meeting South African Singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka. How did that meeting come about?
Like I said, not everyone in South Africa is a bad person. The bad people are only in the dark places and after I was attacked, the story was all over the media in South Africa about a Ugandan who was beaten by the Tafoten gang. Chaka Chaka saw it in the news and when she learnt that I was Chameleone’s brother, she looked for me through some of the Ugandans she knew. She comforted me and took me somewhere to get some peace of mind, it was from there that she then took me to studio and we did a song titled Africa Show Me Love.
What message do you have to the people of South Africa now that you are back in Uganda?
My message first of all to the whole world is that xenophobia exists and it is real. What I experienced was not a stunt like many people claimed. To the South African people who brutalised me, I forgive them all. Even though people in South Africa believe that dying is normal, we can still work as Africans to end such acts because at the end of the day, we are losing people that we love.
Will you step out of the country anytime soon?
We were meant to perform with Jose Chameleone in London in May this year but I do not know the programme since we have not been in touch because of what happened to me in South Africa. For now, I do not have any travels planned out of the country.