By Arthur Baguma and Herman Sentongo
HE had a huge trademark gravelly voice and a gift for stripping a song down to its soul. He belonged to an era of legendary musical heroes.
For almost 34 years, local music lovers counted on his voice to sooth their souls or set the mood for relaxing. So strikingly beautiful was his mastery at the saxophone that it earned him the nickname â€œKafululu wâ€™omulereâ€â€” the master of the saxophone.
He was a musician, songwriter and loved the saxophone with a passion. His fans adored him. They loved his music, but his voice was irresistible for the ardent fans.
Unfortunately, the long arm of death will forever deny them a chance of seeing him again on stage.
Ssekyanzi was one of the founders of Afrigo Band. He succumbed to kidney failure at Mulago Hospital on Sunday. He started the music career at an early age in the Namirembe Cathedral choir where he horned his harmonising skills and alto tone signature which he became famous for.
He was also adept at playing the trumpet. Later, he joined the Stingers Band which used to perform at Kololo Club, now Ange Noir Club, before joining Cranes Band which was headed by Sam Kavuma.
Moses Matovu, the only surviving founder member of Afrigo Band, has now seen yet another colleague pass on. Ssekyanzi and Matovu were the only surviving members among the eight people who founded the band.
Matovu first met Ssekyanzi in secondary school at Pillai SS which was located behind Hotel Equatoria. Matovu recalls that he was again to meet Ssekyanzi in 1966 in the Cranes Band.
He described Ssekyanzi as a man who was dedicated to the band, even during the trying times when he was battling with the illness.
â€œWe bonded so strongly that we became brothers. On November 1, 1975, we launched the Afrigo Band with our first performance on stage. He has been a dedicated member, who participated in all compositions and performances,â€ Matovu mourns his departed friend.
Some of Ssekyanziâ€™s compositions included Akola Bwenkanya, Musa, Eneyisa, Nnemedwa, Rose Gguma, and Onemye.
Ssekyanzi has been influential in the music industry and his death is a big blow to the industry. The tragedy reminds the Afrigo fraternity of other fallen colleagues: Rashid Musoke, Paul Serumaga, Godfrey Mwambala, Tony Sengo, Mansur Bulegeya Akiki and Fred Kigozi.
Ssekyanzi was a calm and humble man whose appearance on stage always rekindled fond memories of the olden days of Afrigo. Those who worked with him remember him as a man who loved and respected his job.
James Wasula, the director of Afrigo Band, described Ssekyanzi as a disciplined man.
â€œHe was gifted with a voice which is not easy to mimic or copy. The industry has lost a songwriter and a man who helped keep the band united,â€ Wasula said.
Wasula advises young musicians to emulate Ssekyanzi and maintain discipline and respect â€” a legacy that the deceased has left behind.
His music was not like an event composition which dies immediately. It stood the test of time.
â€œSsekyanzi came to stardom at a young age, but kept a low profile and discipline. Today when young musicians get some little money and fame, they want to step on everyoneâ€™s toes.â€
To his family, Ssekyanzi was a loving father. He had a wealth of wisdom that he always imparted into his children. His wit and incomparable sense of humour will always be missed.
Born to the late Mr. and Mrs Evelitius Polycarp Mutagubya of Kasubi, Wakiso District in 1949, Sekyanzi was the first-born in his family.
He is survived by his wife, Justine Ssekyanzi, children and siblings.
He was laid to rest at his ancestral home in Kasubi on Monday afternoon.