By Pidson Kareire
For over 13 years the UK-based Ugandan singers popularly known as Da Twinz aka Ganda Boys because of their Ganda Foundation, stayed in London for Kyeyo. Efforts to bring them to perform in Kampala were fruitless because they allegedly did not have proper papers. Now that they got papers, they move freely and last Friday they jetted in to the Country to donate two medical-theatre operation tables, each worth $15,000, to Kawolo Hospital in Lugazi. The duo handed over the tables to the management of the hospital on April 24, 2012.
The question that lingers in most people’s mind is: ‘How much do these guys earn, for them to donate instruments worth sh50m? Well, the Ganda Boyz say music is like any other job; they are paid by a record company; which is called Big World Records, a branch of Heaven on Earth Records. ‘We don’t earn trillions, but we earn a salary like any other employee. But the comfort is that we don’t earn by shows; even if we don’t sing for a month we still earn and our contract is up for 25 years,’ they explained.
They say their first years of kyeyo were not easy; upon reaching London in the early 2000, they joined the Ugandans in diaspora and did any kind of odd jobs. ‘We did every job Ugandans do. But we carried on with our education; while I went to City University; my twin brother Dan Ssewagude went to Middlesex University. We studied as we did small odd jobs; we worked in MacDonalds; we cleaned offices; cared for the elderly up until we qualified as professional musicians.’
They were forced to change their music style because whatever they did for the Ugandan audience did not appeal to the white audience and the middle class Uganda. Their music was popular in Kisenyi but less popular in Kololo and Muyenga. But there were many artistes here competiting for Kisenyi market (lower class audience) yet there was upper class which needed their music.
‘We have skills for the upper class but we are double edged; we appeal to both classes though we prefer the later,’ said the Ganda Boyz.
By the time they left Uganda they had cracked the Uganda music industry and that was 1998. They had a hit single titled Nakafeero; it was very popular on Peter Ssematimba’s radio programme. At that time their group name was called D’ND; by the way, they have rebranded twice. They say their music background was an influence of Fr. Damien Grimes, the former Head teacher of Namasagali College, where they did their high school studies.
When they got to UK things were not easy at all as they thought; they then thought about coming back to Uganda and reclaim what they had built but they had not achieved what they wanted in the UK. As they pursued that they realized they could still do music in the UK and sell it to Uganda to keep the brand going while they waited to hit the white market in Europe.
At this point, they created ‘Da Twinz’ as a brand. The projection was spot on; it worked successfully in Uganda. During their peak as Da Twinz, they could not return to Uganda because of their main focus that took them to the UK. They got so many contracts to come and perform for Ugandans but they stayed their focus.
However, it came 10 years later when they were invited to perform as a band on BBC Drama series called Moses Jones. After this project they were spotted by Cliff Richards, former producer Craig Pruess, who they decided to form a band called the Ganda Boyz. Since then they have been growing musically and professionally. They have performed at World Cultural Festival at Olympics in Berlin; they have performed in all of Europe; they have done two albums, which have both featured as sound tracks in a UK prime time ITV Drama series called The Jury.
The Ganda Boyz is working with the queen of Buganda to do a charity show at Serena Hotel Kampala as one of their first public performance in Uganda after 13 years abroad. They are a 14-piece band; which they intend to fly into the country.
Although some people argue that they could not return due to immigration issues; the Ganda Boyz say that is cheap talk. ‘In a layman’s language, there are procedures that every human being go through to be a better person, we are Ugandans and nobody has ever denied us, we would have never left Uganda if we did not have the so called papers. We had a target in life; we stood firm to achieve it and to pursue our target. And now that our target is within reach, we can afford to come back home freely.’
‘It is like telling a soldier who is in the middle of a battlefield to first come back home to serve tea. He must first clear the enemy and then serve tea. That paper talk is cheap talk! Who hasn’t been challenged in life? If you have a passport and you are allowed to leave Uganda, you can come back to Uganda any day you feel like. People will not only come back if their targets have not been met.
We did odd jobs for about 10 years-Da Twinz aka Ganda Boys