By Our Reporter
It is about 12: 57 pm and I am at Wakiso stage as I had been directed by Edwin Mukalazi. I called him for the exact location as he had earlier instructed. My boda man is directed to the place and after we reach, I see a familiar face from a distance. A woman is seated on a veranda doing her makeup, as I am trying to figure out who exactly she is, a man from the UNCC team asks if I am part of Mukalazi’s team. I nod in the affirmative as my attention is taken by the woman.
I draw closer and the composed woman welcomes me to their humble home, I concede, She is Saudah Nakakaawa! Singer Matia Luyima’s wife and singing partner.
Matia and Saudah are some of the artists on the interview program organized by the Uganda National Cultural Centre in honour of performers that have contributed to the Arts and Culture sector in Uganda.
Even after forty seven years in the music industry, Matia Luyima’s children still make fun on the basis of his coming to town.
“I was one of those who came to Kampala that year to see the pope. My children still find it ironic. They say ‘Mzee came to see the pope and refused to leave Kampala,” Matia Says.
Matia Luyima came to town in 1969 with no intentions of music. He was however a great fan of Christopher Ssebadduka, a household name then.
To survive in the city, He moved from the first to the seventh street in the Industrial area job hunting as he didn’t have any job qualifications. Lucky enough, he got employed as a sales man in stages- Bachelors bakery.
In 1972, a year after a coup d’etat that saw the overthrow of Apollo Milton Obote 1, Matia began thinking about joining the music Industry. He however didn’t have means of getting to the then celebrities.
“I loved music but Christopher Ssebadduka was my favourite. I went on a quest for him and I was told he lived in Katwe. By then, Christopher was an employee at the Bank of Uganda. I looked for him with my efforts until one day when God crossed our paths in Katwe.” Matia recalls
He asked who I was and I answered ‘I am Matia Luyima, from where? And I answered Namuwongo. What do you want? He continued to ask and I told him I was interested in him as a musician. He again asked if I was interested in music and I told him yes I want to be a musician,” He continues to recall
Matia says it was impossible for one to become a musician without guitar knowledge.
“He asked if I knew how to play the guitar and I said ‘I do know.’ He gave me his guitar and tasked me to sing my own composition. I had learned a few guitar chords and string notes from my uncle years back in Bulemezi.” He reveals
Matia had also started on composing his own song though he did not know how it would end.
“When I sang to him, he approved my talent by telling his wife that I would be a musician. He asked me to write down the lyrics I had composed and promised to do the finishing.” He narrates.
After playing the guitar and his song, Matia recalls Christopher’s wife telling him how he was lucky because Ssebadduka never shared his guitar with anyone else.
“I bid them farewell. I had my bicycle and when I reached home, I composed another song. After four days, I returned to Christopher and he was amazed.
He asked me to go to the National Theater and register in an event that was organised by Radio Uganda.” He recalls
The event happened every after three months and besides being a competition, it was a great platform for rising stars, school children/ students and dramatists. Rehearsals always started on the day of registration.
“On the day of the competition, the guitars we used to play were not amplified but the audience used to enjoy. I think I was tipped shs 10 while on stage. I was the audience’s favorite in my category of ‘guitarist’ so I had to go back and compete the next Sunday.” He narrates.
Adding: “Joseph Kiwana took third place, Ben Sseguya took the second. The audience was asked to guess who the winner was and they all shouted my name. I was declared the winner.
I won shs. 100 which is equivalent to today’s awards and millions. I decided to go to Christopher first before going back to Namuwongo. I had bought myself a guitar at shs. 20 from Kampala road. I put my guitar on my back, mounted my bicycle up to Katwe.”
“I told him ‘I have brought what you sent me to bring’ I gave my mentor shs 10 in appreciation. He touched my head and said ‘Ever since I started mentoring people, nobody has ever remembered me. You are going to be the grandfather of all musicians.’ I got my bicycle and headed back to Namuwongo to share the good news with my partner. It was so much money and I didn’t know what to do with it.” He recalls.
Christopher Ssebadduka together with artists like Dan Mugula and Paul Ddamulira were then performing under the umbrella body called Uganda Picking guitarists and cultural Union that later was turned to Kadongo kamu and cultural company.
“I remember my boss and his team had started organising events. They were to perform at Kavule aka good hope that Saturday. I was taken along with them.
Matia had started selling music by 1975 during Idi Amin’s regime. He owned a studio along Market Street so he used to juggle it with performing at musical tours that always happened every weekend.
“Ddamulira suggested that we get an address for easy Identification and location. We got an office and he taught me leadership skills. We went on like that until 1980 when Ddamulira was killed,” Matia reveals.
“Amin had been overthrown in 1979 and there were many guns. Crimes were on a rise as people had become unruly. I had also brought Sebatta and people had started getting our vibe. Sebatta had Sam wange. We thought hard and started Kadongo kamu super singers.
It was a Saturday and Ddamulira was at his home in Kyengera. There were thugs in the area so he went to help in their arrest. A person close to Ddamulira threw a bottle at one of the thugs and it hit him. In return, another thug fired at Ddamulira and he fell, not knowing what was happening.” Matia recalls
Extracted from the UNCC Arts and Culture Magazine