Ronald Mayinja; the renowned kadongo kamu folk musician, is possibly most politically and socially-driven Uganda singer. Over the last ten years, he has been popularly known for message loaded songs like ‘Tuli ku Bunkenke’ (Situation is tense), ‘Tuwalana Nguzi’ (We are against corruption), ‘Africa! Ani agula ensi’ (Africa is up for sale) and ‘Sente y’ekibi’ (evil money) among others. That is not to say he does not lyric sentimental with the odd love ballad.
He says his interest in victim cause could be linked to his childhood. At only 11 years, after going through terrible torture by his own father under the influence of a step mother, Mayinja convinced his only sister to walk for over 90Km from Mpenja-Gomba to Mpigi town in search of their mother who was residing in Kawempe-Kampala then.
“At one point, my father beat me until I was dripping blood and in a way of stopping the blood flow, he pushed me into a drum full of water for minutes,” says Mayinja.
He was only rescued by a neighbor nurse who was watching through her window.
“It was a moment to choose between life and death,” he says. As night approached, the duo set off. Along the way, a Good Samaritan offered them transport.
After a week, they arrived in Kawempe but their mother was away and neighbours took them to their maternal grandmother. It was light at the end of the tunnel.
Born in 1976 to the late David Ndawula and Joyce Namuddu (RIP), Mayinja had attended the first part of primary school in the village. So he was enrolled in a city school, Namirembe Primary school where he completed primary school.
He later joined Nsambya Secondary School for the entire six years before joining National College of Business Studies, Nakawa. But the love for music was unstoppable and actually, Mayinja chose to go the music way.
“I was a musician right from school but in my senior six vacation, I went at it commercially,” he recalls.
It was the same time his mother had flown to Denmark for greener pastures and this he saw as an opportunity to express freedom. He later joined then musician Kato Lubwama’s group but quit after two years joining musicians Mesach Semakula and Geoffrey Lutaaya to form the defunct Eagles Production.
The song ‘Claire’ was his breakthrough in 1999 as it topped the airwaves of most Luganda leaning radio stations. But ‘Tuli ku bunkenke’ was another great one that pushed him into holding his maiden album launch towards the 2006 general elections. The same song also served as an opposition anthem that was used to point to the evils of the ruling government.
But Eagles Production did not last and due to misunderstandings based on what he calls personal gains and non-observance of rules, Mayinja teamed up with others who shared similar agenda to form the current Golden Production.
Along the way, Mayinja met his wife, Aisha Nakyeyune through a friend and the huddles of tribe and religion could not stop the love birds from marrying and eventually having children. They have two children together and several others.
Mayinja still finds time to go to school. In 2012 he enrolled at Kampala International University where he pursued a certificate in Business Administration and later a diploma in Human Resource Management. He is currently a first year student of Political Science at Makerere University.
Politics is his latest venture and even when it is still a thought, Mayinja is pushing for a platform to address grievances in society. He has, therefore, chosen to have one leg in politics and another still in music.
Ronald Mayinja’s Liteside
Any three things we don’t know about you?
Most people tag me to Democratic Party, yet I merely have friends within the party like I do in others. I fight for noble causes, so I mingle with people from different parties. I am a good reader of current affairs and my preference is national news. Because I relate with the people through my work, I am compelled to compose songs in the line of social causes. Engaging in active politics is still a thought that I may choose to pursue at any level or not.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Chasing a mission and it finally works out but also living among happy people creates some level of happiness.
What is your greatest fear?
I have been through a lot that many people would fear so for now, nothing scares me.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
At times, I am so taken up by other people’s concerns to an extent of being affected personally. I wish I could slow down like others.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
I can tolerate any trait or character because people have reasons for acting in that manner.
Which living person do you most admire?
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda is not personal and relates with all people regardless of the political affiliation. We need such people to move Uganda forward.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I comfortably love spending on my wife and children; it’s not something I often do but when I choose to do it, it’s out of love.
What is the greatest thing you have ever done?
I have successfully broken the generational curse of not being educated in our family and it’s something I consider great. I have also been able to sell my ideology through music to an extent of people paying to listen to it.
What is your current state of mind?
I am at peace.
What does being powerful mean to you?
Power is dependent on how it is used as a tool of influence to others positively. However, with power, someone should be respected rather than feared.
On what occasion do you lie?
If I am at crossroads in a situation that involves losing someone, I will drop in a lie or two to save life especially with things involving mob injustice.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I have lived to accept myself although some people still complain a lot about my size and height.
Which living person do you most despise?
Every selfish politician is a misfit in society.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Ability to forego something for others.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
One who can be married faithfully with or without the presence of the husband.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
‘The hard way is the only way’ is a phrase I often use when I am faced with challenges.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wife Aisha Nakyeyune; my parents are all gone so she is the only person who knows my in and out and has tolerated my highs and lows.
When and where were you happiest?
When God blessed me with a baby boy in January 2009; it took me long to have him and even after, he remains my only boy amongst girls.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Being in position to nurture others and cause positive change in their lives.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
At least nothing for now.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Any achievement is great so I don’t undermine anything.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
As a Nelson Mandela in person and character.
Where would you most like to live?
Uganda’s standards of living are still fair as compared to other countries.
What is your most treasured possession?
It is not something I want to expose because my enemies will shift the battle to it. However, I value my brain because it enables me think in the right way.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
There is nothing as hurting as being hated by your master.
What is your favorite occupation?
Being in a position that enables me save a multitude of Ugandans. It has to be more than music.
What do you most value in your friends?
Being genuine, open minded and understanding other people’s problems.
Who are your favorite writers?
I am a fan of current affairs so I can go with any good writer in that field.
Who is your hero of fiction?
I am not attached to any .
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for so many years with his life threatened and was okay dying for a society good. Not so many people can die for others.
Who are your heroes in real life?
Anyone who is willing to die for the good of others and those who can forgive and forget; forgiving is an act of the great.
What are your favorite names?
Mandela is a good name.
What is your greatest regret?
Everything that happens to me turns out to be a life lesson.
How would you like to die?
Honorably as long as the reason is fighting for the right cause.
What is your motto?
The hard way is the only way.