30 April 2018

Uganda: Why Eddy Kenzo Keeps His BET Award At the Museum

Photo: Eddy Kenzo
Eddy Kenzo.

Quick Talk meets singer Edirisa Musuuza alias Eddy Kenzo, 29, at his studio on Salama road for an interview; hardly has the interview started when the Sitya Loss singer is called away for another engagement.

He promises to "be right back", but when he has not returned an hour later, he allows Quick Talk to follow him to Munyonyo where he is helping direct a music video.

Hi Kenzo, I'm Quick Talk, I work for The Observer.

Hi! [Brightens up]Oh! Observer, I like The Observer; you guys write sense. Your stories are well-researched and you are not like these others who write things to bring us down.

Thanks boss; so, who is Eddy Kenzo?

I don't have a serious background, but I can tell you that I love music. I remember I started music when I was young. I was once a street boy really struggling.

I can tell you that I was born in Masaka but all my life has been a struggle, living on the streets...

I have heard that Agriculture minister Vincent Ssempijja had a hand in your success. I was helped by many people. For Ssempijja's case, it all started when he was the Masaka district LC-V chairman. They formed a football team called Masaka Local Government Football Club.

I joined their camp. I was a ball boy, also washed the players' dishes; I used to stay in the camp as a means of getting food and housing. We used to go to Ssempijja's home when the footballers had a meeting with him - I think I was around nine years.

[Then there is Bobi Wine's] Firebase Crew. I owe my success to Bobi Wine and Micki Wine, because they gave me a chance. I did a song with Micki Wine [Yanimba] at Dream Studios for free; it brought me into the limelight.

Who was guiding you then?

In the ghetto you have to be strong and you learn the hard way; so, learning was by trial and error.

You like singing in English! [For the record, Kenzo speaks good English - sorry, you naysayers.]

It's true I don't know English and I'm just learning it; I never got enough education because I never went to school. The only time I went to school was in P3. [Laughing:] I have never paid school fees in my life.

It's only in Uganda where people laugh at me, but internationally people are happy with me; if I spoke broken Luganda, then I would be worth being laughed at.

Okaaay... !

When it comes to putting English lyrics in my songs, I call them hooks. [He demonstrates, singing "I love you my baby darling" from the song Akaserengeto]. The words are for those who don't know Luganda. I believe English doesn't matter; we have Spanish, Portuguese [speakers] who don't even speak English but love my songs.

You have many songs to your name; which ones are special and why?

Sitya Loss and Stamina are very special to me, because they threw me into fame and put Uganda up; they also generated a lot of money for me and the dancers [laughs].

[Stamina was the big hit that catapulted Kenzo to fame in 2010 and President Museveni used it in his 2011 presidential campaigns.]

Turning to family, when are you wedding your sweetheart Rema?

[Looks irritated] I don't know and I don't have plans for weddings.

Yiiii!But why?

That's my life and my family. I'm not supposed to discuss that in public.I am a man who is supposed to handle family matters privately.

Okay! And... [Quick Talk treading carefully]... children?

I have two kids [Kenzo has baby Aamaal with Rema, and an older child Maya from a previous relationship].

Should we hope for a collabo with Rema?

[Laughs] Me, I'm myself; did you ask Rema if she wants a collabo with me? [Laughs heartily.]

And do you have a favourite dish?

When you are a street child, you have no choice in what you eat, and I still eat anything.

You have won many awards; which one is really special?

Ooh, man! The BET award was the best. [Kenzo also recently won the Nickelodeon Kids Choice award.]

By the way, why do you keep your awards at the Uganda museum?

I thought that if I kept [the BET award] in my house, very few people would have access to it, but in the museum many people [can touch it]. Also, I wanted to inspire the upcoming musicians; maybe when they have a feel of it at the museum, they can be inspired to work hard.

Some musicians said it was just a PR stunt.

By the way, I also feared for my life; everybody who would visit me, the first question was,"Where is the BET award?"I feared one would break in and steal it; so, the museum was the safest place I [could think of].

We have very good young talent. If you were to draw a list of top 10...

True, they have upped their game. My list would have Ykee Benda, B2C, Rema, FikFameica, Vinka, Winnie Nwagi, Apas, Elysha and Bennie Gunta.

Some have called you hot-tempered and arrogant [Kenzo infamously beat up Dembe FM presenter Kasuku during a press conference]

I'm a man of my words and I opened my heart to God. If you piss me off, we fight. By the way, it's only Kasuku that I have fought with [Kasuku, you lucky man!]... But remember I'm also human.

A section of musicians claim you 'buy' your awards online by lobbying voters extensively...

What? Those artistes are big and I'm also big. I perform and fill stadiums outside Uganda; in fact I have over 40 million followers online. All those are votes.

[Sounding disgusted:] But they can also buy; after all, they have the money and they have been in the industry for long.

So, what should we expect this year?

I will be globetrotting. I have a show in Canada, Wembley and other countries. I'm also working on new songs [Quick Talk noticed he was working on new music at his studio in Makindye.]

Then... ?

I want to set up talent schools both for music and soccer. Everyone has talent and the school will help push talent to another level.

So, Kenzo, what's your net worth!

I don't know. I make money and I love peace. I believe when I'm alive, I'm rich.

ABOUT KENZO

Kenzo was born on April 9, 1989 in Masaka district. His mother died when he was five, which cast him onto the streets for 13 years.

He did not have a formal education; he remembers only attending P3 in Masaka. At one time Kenzo, who is passionate about football, got a sports bursary at Lubiri Secondary School for three years; he says he stopped in S3 because he did not know what he was reading.

Currently he has embarked on the journey of learning English. Some of Kenzo's songs include Maria Roza, Zigido, Soraye, Mbiro Mbiro, Jubilation, Jambole, Ogenda Kunzisa, Shake Your Body, Nice And Lovely and Kamunguluze, among others.

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