Vision Group, in association with Twaweza Initiative and Buzz Events, is seeking to recognise artistes whose compositions advance society. Today, Bright Balinaine features David Ssemanda Ssematimba a.k.a Maddox, who promotes peace through music
Maddox a.k.a David Ssemanda Ssematimba was born on the onset of the brutal regime. He is one of the victims of the then political instability, a status quo that triggered the composition of the song titled Eddembe, which means peace.
Maddox is one of the utmost and ambitious reggae musicians.“I was young and determined,” says Maddox “I needed to earn from my talent and so I started professional music as early as 1989.” He spent seven years recording the song, Eddembe together with 12 other on the album titled Tukolagane (Let’s work together), which he released in 2000.
The song depicts the conflicts in society, especially the political wars and other struggles that infringe on human peace and freedom. It also urges everyone to use peaceful methods in the fight for freedom. “All humans have natural rights given to them by God and no one has the right to violate them,” says Maddox. The lyrics in the song appeal to people from various areas in Uganda – Mbale, Arua, Busia, Malaba, Kamuli, Kabale, Kampala, Masindi, Jinja, Gulu and world over to keep peace.
It also emphasises that the world will and can only develop when at peace because instabilities affect development. In the song, Maddox says,“If one takes away your peace, in actual sense, that person has taken your wealth. “Peace is wealth, very expensive and should be highly respected,” he says.
Even in war zones where there is no peace, people have to find food for survival. “That simply shows how important peace is to the society,” he explains. “I, therefore, dedicate this song to the people in peaceful areas, who fail to work even when they have the liberty and time.” Maddox says fighting cannot solve issues, but peace-talks can. He advises all those who are dissatisfied or disgruntled to sit on a round-table and resolve their issues amicably.
Who is Maddox?
Born in Kampala, on November 22, 1971, to Ananias Kaweesi Ssematimba (RIP) and Ephrance Nalwanga, Maddox completed his primary level at Makonzi Boarding Primary School in 1985. He pursued his ordinary level in 1989 and advanced level at Busoga College Mwiri in 1991
During his Senior Six vacation, Maddox worked as a primary school teacher with Christian Life Children’s Home, teaching science, mathematics and music to P2 and P3 pupils. He later moved to Nairobi, Kenya, in 1991, where he stayed for close to three months before setting off for Sweden. In Sweden, Maddox started performing in night clubs to earn a living and also pay for his computer studies.
There, he met Mafo Magoye, a fellow musician, who introduced him to a brother, Aggrey Ssembatya, who ran Small Axe Productions studio on the west coast of Sweden. After befriending several musicians, between 1992 and 1995, Maddox embarked on writing and recording songs which included Namagembe, Nakatudde, Tukolagane and Irene.
Maddox is regarded by many Ugandans as a star reggae musician with a strong commanding voice, incomparable to many upcoming and longtime Ugandan artistes. He says it is not surprising that he chose to take the music path. “Music flows in our family. My grandfather was an artiste and we learnt a lot from him,” he says.
Other songs and inspiration
Inspired by Bob Marley, the once Sweden-based reggae singer is one of the Ugandan artistes whose style of singing has won him a devoted following, both in and out of the country. The 1998 Tukolagane single calls for people to work hard.
In the song, Maddox says, “It is time for all people to work together as one person regardless of the tribe and the regions of origin.” In his song Abato (the children), Maddox speaks to the whole society not to mistreat children.
“They are the future of the nation and so they should be treated well even when they go wrong, the children should not be tortured but they should be guided,” he says.
Marriage and family
Maddox says he believes in partnership, not marriage. He has two children aged 17 and nine. Maddox lives in Ggaba, a Kampala suburb.
Advice and plans
He is disturbed by the fact that those who know what to do have adamantly failed to do it. “I wonder why many Ugandan musicians engage in wrangles all the time instead of doing what the society expects them to do.
Musicians should know that they are role models and they ought to give them their best,” Maddox says. He urges his fans to be patient. “I will be releasing a 12-track album soon. I do not want to rush because I may crash, so expect the best,” Maddox explains.
Although he later managed to penetrate the music industry, Maddox has encountered a number of challenges. He walked into various pubs and bars every night to sing for money, a thing that put his life in danger. Maddox says sometimes he gets stressed with the fans’ demands for a new song. “My fans expect a lot from me, which I have not yet delivered.” Not only that, Maddox also says the absence of a copyright law in Uganda allows anyone to reproduce and sell another person’s music anytime without authorisation from the musician.
People Inspired by Maddox songs
Elizabeth Ndagire, 35, a street vendor
The song carries a lot of meaning, especially to the politicians, who like causing chaos all the time.
Ambrose Atwenda, 28, a truck driver
I first heard the Ddembe song in my village during the presidential campaigns in 2006. Peace is very important for the society to develop
Shamim Katuhaire, 23, a Mobile Money operator
Ddembe is an interesting and encouraging song. The lyrics encourage everyone to ensure peace in the world
Catch the Musicians Making a Difference Recognition ceremony live on the four Vision Group TV stations of Urban TV, Bukedde 1, Bukedde 2 and TV West on January 31 from 7:30pm – 8:30pm