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Four One One

How Basudde showed up barefoot for his first show

Herman Basudde

Besides the unique sound of the guitar in his song Bus Dunia, Herman Basudde used the intro of the song not just to celebrate himself, but to literally paint a picture that he was a distinct musician who will never be replaced.

He mentions his idol, Eclas Kawalya, who people tried to emulate, but never matched. Indeed, Basudde is an irreplaceable music story given the uniqueness of his art and approach to life to the fact that many have always referred to him as a music prophet.

A semi-literate village boy from Bubondo in Masaka, Basudde defied his humble background to make a mark in Uganda’s music industry that, 27 years later, lives on.

Basudde’s friend Ssalongo Ssekidde explains that after the Luweero Bush War, Basudde was wrongfully accused of illegally owning a gun and detained by security in Bubondo, his home village. After securing bail, he went off the scene and sought refuge in Kalububbu, a neighbouring village in Masaka.

Ssekidde says Basudde’s music dream got shuttered after most of his friends never wanted to associate with a person who was rumoured to have a gun.

“The situation was tricky, arrests had become normal and everyone was in fear,” he explains.

Then, Ssekidde recalls, when a famous music band led by Matia Kakumirizi and Dan Mugula, Entebbe Guitar star singers showed up for a performance in Mateete, he sought for an opportunity to perform with the band.

“I played an acoustic guitar during the band rehearsal and Matia Kakumirizi, the band leader granted me an opportunity to join them,” Ssekidde tells Sunday Monitor.

Ssekidde briefed the band leaders that he had a friend, Basudde, who was better than him and he requested that, instead of him, they take Basudde who was unemployed at that time. Moreover, he added back then, Basudde was a better singer.

“I walked miles to find Basudde and I failed to locate him,” he recalls, adding, “A villager told us to wait in the evening and hear the sound of a guitar and that is how we located him. He would isolate himself in the evening just to sing by himself.”

Career nearly ruined by shoes

In Kalububbu where Entebbe Guitar Star Singers had another performance, Ssekidde, who was with singers Charles Ssemakula and Vicent Muwonge, located Basudde in a grass-thatched bar where he was randomly performing for drunkards, who paid him in tips.

“He was glad to see us and even more delighted to learn that he would get an opportunity to perform with the band,” Ssekidde remembers.

In the pre-performance rehearsals, Basudde sampled his then unrecorded songs, Mukyala Mugerwa, Milly Nanyondo, Bigumba bya Mpuuta and Ensi eno engenze walala. Ssekidde says whereas most band members were impressed, artiste Suleiman Mayanja rejected them outright. Reason? Basudde did not have shoes and Ssekidde was poorly dressed in old shoes.

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