They call her “the lady with the big heart” because she sings for charity. Angella Katatumba, founder of the Angella Katatumba Development Foundation, composed, sang, and recorded the theme song for the Gulu Walk back when northern Uganda was just emerging from the 20-year Joseph Kony rebellion. She then did ‘Let’s go green’ an environmental conservation son and later ‘Mulago yaffe’ in aid of the Mulago National Referral Hospital.
“I use my music to promote charitable causes. Something charitable markets and moves itself,” she says.
For example this year, she chose to be exemplary and donated Shs10million to Mulago hospital which was used to procure phototherapy machines and a syringe pump for the Special Care Unit. To her surprise, three weeks later, she was invited by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to attend the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey. Katatumba who enjoys meeting people says it was a great opportunity where she mingled with over 32 presidents and other dignitaries.
When she held her first music concert mid this year and raised Shs15 million, she did not hesitate to donate it to Uganda Cancer Institute to buy beds.
It has not always been like this. Angella Katatumba was pushed by parents to do music when she returned to Uganda in 2005 for holiday from the USA where she lived with her then-husband, Ward Alonzo, her first love. They had met in England and dated for six months. At just eighteen years, Katatumba had completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and law from Oxford Brookes University, England. Her parents advised her to take on a Masters in International Management / Public Relations from the same university which she completed after a year. Before that she had attended Belmont Senior Secondary School in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, where she obtained a Public Relations Diploma. Her early years were at the Katatumba Academy in Kampala for primary education.
Katatumba married in 2000 but did not live happily ever after, and divorced in 2008. It is during this period that her parents, Boney Katatumba, the renowned Ugandan business entrepreneur and Pakistan Consul to Uganda and his wife Gertrude Katatumba; a beautician, convinced her to give music a chance.
Her first songs, `Standing in the rain’ mirrored the turbulence in her life.
“I was so heartbroken to the extent that I lost up to 38 Kg in three weeks and went through the worst hell alone. It was also an embarrassment to my family.”
She then released the ‘Peace’ song and before she knew it became part of the Gulu Charity Walk that was meant to fundraise for the people of northern Uganda.
“Initially I wasn’t interested in charity but when I checked the internet about the Gulu situation, what I found was more than imaginable. I was able to compose and record a theme song for the Gulu walk in just four days titled ‘For you Gulu’,” said Katatumba.
This traversed 72 countries around the world in just two days. She admits earning some money from the project that launched her music career in Uganda and the entire world.
It was around the same time when she opened up Angella Katatumba Development Foundation to promote her charitable causes.
Katatumba attributes her success to growing up in a family that was largely dominated by boys. She is a twin to Rugiirwa Katatumba and the second daughter in a family of eight. She also praises her father Katatumba and Mother Gertrude who she describes as so loving but tough and one who never spared the cane.
“The environment taught me to be aggressive and assertive. It was either you get swallowed or you get in the game. I attribute the great things I have done to the boys because they made me fearless, standout with extra comfort and confidence,” she says.
Her latest gig was on Nov. 19 at the Annual Black Tie Dinner at the Kampala Serena International Conference Centre at which Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was the chief Guest.