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The lockdown gave them their big break

BREAKTHROUGHS: While we are crying about Covid-19 ruining our lives, there are some people who are looking at the pandemic as a blessing in disguise. In the entertainment industry, we have seen people make hits, have their big breaks, and others discovered some talents about themselves. Isaac Ssejjombwe explores some of the people who have become celebrities, thanks to this lockdown.

Etania Mutoni

Before Covid-19 hit us, Etania Mutoni was just a regular party girl turning the party up at various nightspots and festivals. No, wait…she had also been rumoured to have a thing with Team No Sleep boss, Jeff Kiwa. Now, the 22-year-old is a co-host on the Friday NTV Mix show. And as it turns out, she was the missing piece in the puzzle because ever since she joined the set that was headlined by Daggy Nice and DJ Bryan, things have never been the same.

Asked how she got to be selected to be part of the show yet she had no prior media experience, Etania said it was the NTV people who approached her following recommendation from various people on social media. Now the self-proclaimed Life of the party is a household name and she is thinking about exploiting the opportunity to her advantage. “Being on TV has opened my eyes to so much more. For example, I am thinking about exploring emceeing and hyping, God willing.”

Zex Bilangilangi

It is unfortunate that Zex Bilangilangi’s mega hit came during the Covid-19 lockdown…but that is nothing to bother the long-struggling singer. “I have been doing music for some good time, so I do not feel bad that my breakthrough happened in lockdown like many would expect, but I feel rather challenged. I take it as a blessing in disguise that I have a song that is taking the stress off people during this time. I feel blessed that I have made people jump and scream in their houses and I am sure the sky is the limit,” the Ratata singer, real name, Tadeo Mayega, told Sqoop in an earlier interview.

Would Ratata have been a bigger song and made Zex some good dimes if there was no Covid-19? Or would he have remained little-known in the shadows of Firebase? Now we will never know. What we know though, is that the song gave Zex a place among the newcomers in the industry and has opened some opportunities for him. In his own words: “The thing about music is that people never recognise you until you break through.” And true, mention top jams this year, and Ratata will, without a doubt, be among the top five on the list.

Lynda Ddane

In an interview with Sqoop sometime during early lockdown, Lynda Ddane confessed to us that her DM was heating up… matter of fact, it was 200 per cent. And it was easy to believe her because when the NTV Dance Party nights started, Lynda Ddane was the real deal. She was on everyone’s lips and, they crowned her the queen of lockdown. But Lynda Ddane was no new face. She was and is still a co-presenter on NTV The Beat and before that, a presenter at Urban TV and UBC TV. It was, however, on the dance party that she shot up to the limelight and continues to kill it on the show. Now from what we hear, the ever-smiley Ddane has hooked herself some huge deals, thanks to this newfound lockdown fame.

Crysto Panda

Don’t get us wrong, Crysto Panda was a ka mini celeb of sorts before lockdown. What with high school girls fighting for selfies and photo ops with him. Yes, being a presenter of T-Nation makes you a big deal among high school kids. But that was all Panda, real name Herbert Kityamuweesi, had besides a struggling music career. Now, however, everyone with a TV can recognise Crysto Panda, thanks to the NTV Dance Party show.

And to imagine that he hooked himself the deal by chance, thanks to Mr Mosh’s unavailability, is a marvel!
Crysto Panda brings life to the Saturday dance parties with his energy, articulation and personality, a thing that has made him a fan favourite and even boosted his fanbase.
And like any focused person, he has used his newfound fame to breathe life into his music career and now he has not just a lockdown banger to his name but also a collaboration with Sheebah. Now kyolina omanya is that these are not things that happen everyday.

Mark Rebel

Mark Rebel Walusimbi is not as fresh as you may think. He is both a deejay and a singer (this part not many of you knew). It is also said he was the first reggae artiste to feature in theatrical songs such as Mariam Ndagire’s “Nkwagala” but despite having his own music, his rap in the all-star millennium song made him a household name in Uganda.
And then he took a break and concentrated on deejaying at the then Angenoir Discotheque now Club Guvnor. Well, he just found his resurrection on the NTV Dance Party show.


“Kwata Essimu” is a hit! And if you do not believe us, just enter the #KwataEssimu on any of your socials and you will find challenges from all over the world. Yes, Freeboy may be a little-known artiste but when he broke out, he broke through borders. The song, in which Freeboy features Winnie Nwagi, has that kadongokamu vibe. It was so good that it caught the attention of Swangz Avenue. From what we learnt, the record label was so impressed with Freeboy’s style, that they got into an agreement with his management to handle his music distribution.

The popularity of the song has us wondering how far it could have gone, had it not been for the lockdown. At just 21, Freeboy, real name Adam Mandela, is now faced with the huge task of matching up to the popularity “Kwata Essimu” has brought him. Is he up for it? “Music is a journey an artiste takes and grows with, and for me this direction of “Kwata Essimu” is part of that journey and growth,” Freeboy told The Observer in a May interview.


Before Covid-19, Sam Ssemwogerere, alias ZuliTums was just a producer and a good one at that. Among some of the hits he had released was Cindy’s “Onina” and “Boom Party” as well as Maro’s “Anjagala”. Now the lockdown has introduced to us ZuliTums, the singer and boy are we enjoying “Tabu” and “Easy”! Asked in a recent Sqoop interview if taking on singing means he will be shelving production, the 27-year-old said: “I do everything. I write, I produce and sing. I don’t enjoy one more than the other because they work hand in hand.”

Publicity Nateete

“Anytime now @#)@&$##$!@….” Sounds familiar, right? Yes, that is Publicity Nateete, the guys who has cracked us up and continues to give us a laugh about so many things and yet nothing at all. He calls himself a comedian but some bigwigs in the comedy fraternity think otherwise. Well, we donno about those people but the guy makes us laugh.

Publicity, real name Yasin Mpagi got himself into the limelight with videos that went viral but the one that stood out was the one in which he represented his boda boda stage to talk about the prolonged suspension of boda bodas. His uncoordinated English and confusing statements cracked us up and his tagline, “Anytime now”, has become a huge thing. He has been hosted on various radio and TV stations where he has left presenters in stitches.
Now anytime now, Publicity Nateete will be booking some serious gigs. Watch the space!


Before the lockdown, few people knew about Azawi. And even when she released her “Quinamino” song, many could not tag a face or name to it. But the new Swangz Avenue signee was just about to have her big break. Azawi, real name Priscilla Zawedde, was not new to the music industry as she had written songs and also performed as part of a band. When she got signed to Swangz and started releasing music, she hit the ground running, releasing an EP even before we could get over “Quinamino”. Among the songs on the EP album that later became hits was “Repeat It” and “Lo Fit”, which have had us forgetting Vinka. Today, Azawi is no foreign name, not just musically but among Ugandans… need we mention that bad girl-tomboy vibe she has all going on?

Ethan Kavuma

Before lockdown, Ethan Kavuma was forging life as an artiste but the biggest song you could attach him to was his collaboration with King Saha titled “Mwoli” and “Kunya” alongside Sheebah. However, he became a household name recently after winning the Sanyu FM Mic search where he beat more than 300 others.

The competition got him a three-year contract to work on Uganda’s oldest station and a cash prize of Shs3m (now that is some cash anyone can do with in Covid). The competition went viral on social media and it came at a time when Sanyu was battling a scandal that saw almost all its employees abandon ship.


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