Do not ever get caught on the same stage with Phina Mugerwa in the battle of dancing. She is dynamite. She will not elbow you off the stage, but will simply blow you to pieces
Do not ever get caught on the same stage with Phina Mugerwa in the battle of dancing. She is dynamite. She will not elbow you off the stage, but will simply blow you to pieces. JOSEPH BATTE discovered that while she is probably the hottest female artiste who combines singing with lithesome dancing, it has been a long road to the top
On love and relationships
Any love stories?
I met my first boyfriend after S.6. When I entered the music industry, I met Emma (Bebe Cools’ manager). I don’t want to talk about him because we went our separate ways. I had never been involved in any love scandals until I met him.
What about the father of your child?
He saw me a long time ago and wanted to marry me. But we had never talked, until he met me at Lido Beach. That day, as I tried to jump on a bodaboda after performing, someone approached me and said there was a man who wanted to talk to me. I told him I was in a hurry and he gave me his number. One thing led to another and we now have a handsome son called Santon.
What does he do for a living?
He plays professional football with the Witbank Spurs in South Africa.
How did he win you over?
I made it hard for him. He was handsome and had the money, but material things have never been my priority. I turned him down and even told my mother about it. I was not ready to have my heart broken again. The first impression I got of him was that of a young man, who enjoyed the high life, not one who would be serious in a relationship. After a year, he returned and went to see my mother, crying like a baby. He promised that he would take good care of me and his courage won my heart. Very few men can do that.
What about his parents? Do they know you?
Yes, very well. But the first day he introduced me to his mother, she disapproved. “Of all the girls, why did you pick her for a wife?” she asked, “An artiste of all people?” My boyfriend stuck to his guns and told her that I was the love of his life. After getting to know me better, she changed her attitude towards me.
How do you handle the long distance relationship?
I feel bad because he lives far away from me. The first time I went to visit him, I met so many beautiful girls, who had come to watch his team train. My heart sank. I feared that one of them could be his side dish. But the fact that he chose me over them gives me assurance that he knows what he wants. These days true love is hard to come by. If you have a man who respects and loves you, stick to him. So, whether he is away or not, I will stick to him. I visit him once a year, and he visits me twice.
Do you have any Plan B is case you lost him?
I cannot have a Plan B because our relationship is strong. I can only think of that after losing him. But I try my best because I do not want to have children with different men.
But you must be doing something to keep him committed
The trick is me. There is a way I handle him. Even though he goes away, he will always come back to me. The trick I use is my secret. Let your readers and my fans guess what it is.
Why haven’t you officially introduced him to your parents?
I am waiting for him to make that decision. However, I think I have passed the first test. I gave him a baby. What else?
Any future plans?
I am striving to make it to the very top in the entertainment industry. I want to be a respected artiste and a good mother. I have just released a song called Sakata. I am also planning for our next child. She will be called Bianca.
You are one of the best dancers in the country. What is the trick?
I guess I am talented. When I was young, I used to dance around the house to any tune. At school, teachers quickly noticed my talent and forced me to join the choir. I say ‘forced’ because most of the time I would refuse and be beaten. Little did I know that dancing and singing would in future provide my bread and butter. When I relented and picked the interest, I became so good that throughout school, I was always picked as the lead singer and dancer. I mustered many traditional dances like Larakaraka, Kadodi, Ekitaguriro, Kisoga and Bakisimba-Nankasa-Muwogola of the Baganda. Luckily, my parents were supportive. I promised them that one day I would drive a car and board a plane because of dancing. And all that has come to pass.
How did you join the mainstream entertainment industry?
It was during my Senior Four vacation. Local artiste and radio presenter Kato Lubwama made an announcement on radio seeking dancers to join his Diamonds Ensemble Band. I auditioned with about 300 others and only three of us; Roy Kapale, Rebecca Jingo and I were chosen.
How much were you paid for being a queen dancer for the group?
Peanuts; sh5,000 per day. For the three days I performed, I earned sh15,000. Sometimes I would be told that ‘business was not good’ and got sh10,000, which I usually spent on my hair. But the most painful part was when we were told that the band was doing us a favour, and that we were like onions which the cook can do without. It hurt me so much that I vowed to prove them wrong by going solo. I am thankful to God because the hardships I faced helped me become what I am today.
When did you go solo?
In 2003. I saved sh100,000 and asked producer Henry Kiwuuwa to help me record my first track, Masanyalaze. Although the money was little, he agreed to help me, but on condition that I let the big artistes go first. Sometimes I would wait up to 2:00am.
Without money, how did you get those cute dance costumes?
While performing one day, I heard a fellow artiste ask: Who is this artiste who always wears the same costume? I did not have the money, so I went to Owino Market and bought second-hand trousers, which I redesigned. Since then, Owino has been the source of my costumes.
What are the highest points of your career?
When I won the PAM Award for Best New Artist in 2006 and got sh1m. Emma helped me get a sh6m loan, which I used to buy a car. And, of course, I cannot forget the day I met the father of my child.
And the lowest point?
There are many. For example, I wanted to turn up for the PAM Awards dressed in white from head to toe. I went to Kiyembe and bought the fabric, but when I took it to a tailor, he instead designed for me overalls. Then the expensive necklace I had hired broke when I was performing on stage and I was told to pay for it. I did not have the money until a couple of performances later.
How did you join the Fusion band?
I joined the group in 2010 as a dance trainer. Along the way, I got interested in performing with them.
What do you think of the current crop of artistes in the country?
We are all competing for the small fan base available. Today, most artistes seem to be concentrating on making money rather than producing good music. An artiste can go to a recording studio and come out with a song within two days. When you work under pressure, you can never come out with a quality recording. That explains why most of the songs churned out are of poor quality.
Who is a good dancer?
A good dancer must always dance without straining himself. He should only use his energy to power his movements.
Who is Phina Mugerwa?
Commonly known as Masanyalaze, Phina Mugerwa is a singer and dancer with Fusion Band. She is also the head of marketing at Waterfront Club, the host of Fusion Band. She runs a shop at Abaita Ababiri on Entebbe Road that deals in ladies and gents wear.
Phina describes herself as a lady who knows what she wants and will not stop, until she gets it. “I may look easy on the surface, but I am very tough, so don’t dare take me for granted,” she warns.
Phina will be 28 this month.
Her father, Francis Kiwanuka, calls her Nakalungi (beautiful girl). Her mother is Annet Komugisha, one of Kiwanuka’s two wives. She is Kiwanuka’s second-last born of five children — two boys and three girls.
“People think artistes do not go to church, but I am a God-fearing person, a hardworking woman and a mother.”
Songs to her name include Masanyalaze, Bampasudde, Gyengenda, Matabuta, Lwaki Ondaaza, Nsimanyo and Fundukululu.
She is also known for dancing and is referred to as a dance maestro.
I know how to keep him interested