No Inabilities: There is an adage that says disability is not inability and Isa Kajiri, alias Jan Lian, is living that. The visually-impaired 27-year-old has more than 10 songs to his name and wants to make an impact on other impaired people out there, writes Isaac Ssejjombwe.
Where did the Jan Lian come from?
Jan stands for ‘Judge And Note’ and this is because I want someone who hears me sing to note and learn while Lian is the short form of ‘Literally Informed Artiste Now’. People have a mentality that artistes are illiterate and I am here to prove them wrong, to prove that there are some well-educated artistes in the industry.
I am lucky to have gone through the whole education process, from primary to university. I went to St Francis School for the Blind in Soroti during for my primary school, then St Francis Secondary School for the blind and later Iganga SS for A-Level before joining Makerere University on government sponsorship studying Mental Health and Community Psychology.
With such a strong degree, why take on a career in music?
Music is my passion. I started doing music as a child but the passion kept growing from primary to secondary. I first went to studio while I was at university, but started commercial music in 2017 after university. I do ragga, afrobeat, dancehall and reggae as well as gospel.
So far, I have more than 10 songs, including “Good leader”, which explains the difference between a leader and a ruler. “Kingambe”, and “Emu”, both love songs, “World Media”, in appreciation to the media, “Kikuute”, a dancehall song, among others.
With your disability, how do you compose your lyrics?
I write using the braille format for the blind but it is so hard to write songs because for a normal 96-page exercise book, that is only two or three pages in braille. But what I do is compose my songs word for word, verse to verse in my brain, master them and then hit the studio.
Good enough, I have been financed by well-wishers. I have recorded music free of charge in different studios. Producers have given me offers but I am looking for someone who can manage my music career. Because of the financial constraints, I do not have any videos yet.
What is left of your degree in Mental Health and Community Psychology?
Music is my talent. Even with all my education, music has always been there but I am also practicing what I learnt, although still looking for a permanent location where I can practice my degree in psychology and this means doing mobile mental health clinics.
What challenges are you facing in the industry so far?
There is this stereotype that someone with a disability cannot do much, despite having all the qualifications. I have been denied jobs at hospitals because of my condition.
In music, I face a problem of promotion. This might be a unifying factor for many in the industry but it is much more for me due to the limitation in movement. That aside, people who would perhaps help me out, lose hope after learning of my condition.
I am also faced with a problem of technology, whereby I cannot access social media at all, which is the trend. And getting someone to do it for me will require me to pay them, which money I do not have.
I respect everyone who is better than me in any field. I have looked up to so many artistes over a certain period of time such as Jose Chameleone, Bebe Cool, Bobi Wine, Mowzey Radio, etc.
I want to get more friends, be financially stable and help music consumers get a message through my songs.
Benefits from music
I have made a lot of friends who have intervened by supporting my music career and I cannot take that for granted.
My mother, Margaret Nalubwama, and father, Moses Mpima, have been supportive of my music career, which to me is much more than a business but something I find comfort in.