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I have no other voice but mine – Zagga

Positive vibes: Zagga is a dancehall artiste who looks up to Jamaican star Beenie man. An information technology graduate born in Jinja, he decries discrimination owing to being born an albino and short-sighted. He is positive to the prospects of making it big in the music industry.

1.How would you describe yourself to a stranger and what’s the story of your music journey?
That would depend on the stranger and what has connected us. I would introduce myself by stage name, Zagga, then tell them about my artistic works as a Ugandan artiste who is Black, despite my skin colour. I started my music journey when I was young, out of love and self-discovery. I professionally began holding performances in 2010 when Toolman discovered me in the ghettos and introduced me to the music industry with a collaboration titled “Mpa Nkuwe”. From then on, I started seeing myself as a real artiste. I followed it with “Ice Cream” featuring my friend Bad Banton, then “Tompanvuya”, “One Night Stand”, “Wokoma”, “Love Yo”, “Bamusakata”, “Twakowa” and “Atakulaba” with Toolman and my latest titled “Hello”, “Kankanya” and “10 over 10” which I am pushing. I am a dancehall artiste.

2.In your 10-year journey, what challenges have you faced?
People who choose not to believe in me before even seeing what I can deliver on stage. Then, there are people who discriminate and segregate me because of my albinism, and also working without management. TV and radio presenters view me in a funny way. I remember going to perform at a bazaar at Kyambogo University and the person in charge of the stage schedule mockingly laughed at me, asking if I had anything to sing given the way I looked. That deeply hurt me.
The scheduler saw me as a comedian even before I could showcase my talent. To him and others, I say, don’t judge a book by its cover. Anyway, my producer Murder Kays came in and made a case for me to perform that night. Often, many of such people who look down on me, on seeing me perform, change their perspective towards my abilities. To the people with albinism, believe in yourselves. What you are is your strength and believe that you can do everything. We need to uplift one another rather than suppress each other. I pray that I meet the speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, one day because I have so much to tell and deliver to her.

3.Who are your music friends and influences?
I have many. First is Toolman, who discovered the power in me then Cindy, who is my good friend, big sister and a big motivator in my life. She listens to my music and advises me on how to improve and progress. She has promised to do a collabo with me, in remixing my latest track titled Kankanya. Pallaso is also a good friend. I was part of ‘Team Good Music’ and even though I left, we are still good friends. We did a song together called Nyongera and I know we can still do good things together. I have collaborated with Beenie Gunter, Diziza, then Producer Washington. I have worked with Murder Kays since 2010 and want to continue working with him, and of course you, as a writer, have been a good part of my career.

4.What was your parents’ reaction when they got to know that you had started pursuing a music career?
My father was disappointed. His wish was that I become a doctor. Later, he came to terms with the reality that I loved music and was willing to go all the way to pursue it. In fact, he sponsored me to do a song, which was very encouraging. My mother is my fan and whenever we talk, she tells me how proud she is of my works.

5.You featured in Radio & Weasel’s song Can’t Let You Go, how did you connect and what is your recollection from the interaction with Radio?
I got to connect with Radio artistically. We met at Hi Table where they had a theme night and I was one of their curtainraisers. My memories of Radio were his encouraging words. He told me to always believe in myself because I have the power to do so much and win.
He was a truthful person, compassionate and parental, advising me about building legacy over playing small. Weasel is also my friend, up to now and I plan on doing a project with him.

Surviving lockdown
It has hit me so hard. When the lockdown started, I had just released a new video and put it on promotion. We were cut off and could not access anything. I could not take my music to television stations, DJs in clubs, bars or anywhere. My source of livelihood as a stage performer was cut down. I was used to being called at the weekends for performances but all that is no longer possible. Life is almost at a standstill because of Covid-19.

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