With the need to tell Hope Nabukenya’s story, the cause and the vision for her live concert, it was important that we did an interview. She said upon settling down with a drink, “Hope Nabukenya is my name. Well, I have other names but Hope Nabukenya is what I use. I am not married.” The free-spirited Hope Nabukenya told us she is comfortable sharing anything about herself. From our brief moments with her, we had gathered that she is proud of who she is and that she wasn’t dating anyone, as at the time of this interview.
One of those things that drew us to Hope Nabukenya’s story, and concert was the cause. She told us more in detail, but we had to start from the beginning. Hope Nabukenya grew up from a village in Munyonyo called Mawanga. “It was a humble background. It was tough growing up but it was a joyful family. We are quite a big family of six children.” She told us that her grandmother did a great job of raising her up whenever their parents were not around. She lived meters away from their home.
“I have strong memories from my grandmother’s place where we were like 14 kids.”
She recounted her best memory from childhood, saying, “When I was a flower girl at a certain church member’s wedding. I looked so beautiful. I loved the way they made me up. They took me to the tailor to take my measurements. I was picked by people I did not know but the experience was nice. They worked on my hair.” We asked whether she kept the dress afterwards, unfortunately she did not, but still, she said it was her fondest childhood memory. “The other was my first day at school. I remember my mother taking me there. After some months, she let me go alone. It was one kilometer away. I sit back and recall those moments when I had to walk alone and then I remember, in the 1990s, school-going children were still being kidnapped.” She remembered being afraid every time she saw army men even though they walked in groups to and from school.
Her saddest moment was when she lost her grandfather. She was 9 years of age. “He loved me so much. He used to take me along when he was going for drinking.” She tasted alcohol quite early, admitted that it was too sour for her to swallow. It was not surprising that when her grandfather passed on, she was sad. Apparently, Hope Nabukenya had taken on the look of his grandfather’s grandmother. His grandfather was responsible for all the excitement during Christmas. The entire extended family gathered at his home and played and danced to lingala music.
After those bitter-sweet memories, it was time to find out about Hope Nabukenya’s education. Finishing her Primary education at Reachout Primary School, she completed O-Level at Midland High School and Advanced Level at Lakeside College, Luzira before joining Bugema University. She thereafter went to Friedensau Adventist University in Germany where she completed a Masters’ Degree in International Social Sciences.
What was her experience while in Germany? She said, “It was good.” Getting straight to the point we asked whether the Germans are racist as many lead us to believe. She did not answer this directly, but said, in the Youth-exchange program, she was supposed to stay with a native typical German family and learn their culture and language. Sponsored by the International Cultural Youth-exchange, she started exchanging emails with her host-family, shared pictures and three weeks prior to her landing in Germany, they already knew each other. “I was ready psychologically for anything,” Hope said in the interview. It was shockingly interesting to learn that she can speak German fluently. She appeared to be enjoying the idea of speaking the language. While in Germany, she worked in a Nursery school setting and all the kids were told that she could not speak their language. Many of them used sign language and or, asked for help from other teachers. This must have been interesting.
“My masters was for two years. I had to work to pay for most of the costs that arose while I was in the university at the same time I was studying. It was an intensive course which I manged to complete after three years of joining.” Hope Nabukenya could have spent the 18 months granted for international students to find a job in Germany or the European Union states to try and find what to do, but after 8 months she said she decided to come back home. She figured that she could make it in Uganda and of course she missed home. It is very encouraging to hear of those who choose to return to Uganda when they could just stay away. It goes to show that Hope Nabukenya loves her nation.
Hope Nabukenya grew up listening to the Golden Gates choir. Early in Hope Nabukenya’s life, she discovered that she had a natural soprano. The Golden Gates choir motivated her. She sung a lot of their music. By the age of about 9 or 10 years, she could ably sing with the adult choir in her church. In the neighborhood, she was always staging performances for crowds to watch. Her entire family loved singing. She is the only one who kept on track with regards to music.
She sung in inter-church choir competitions. In lower primary, she was already leading songs. She admitted to not being a good dancer. “I was only scared of the stage before the performance. Once it started, I never got scared. I however remember one incident where we had singing competitions between Kampala district schools.” In this incident, due to Stage-fright, she ended up singing & repeating one line in stead of the entire portion of the song she was given. Her teacher stood in the corner trying to signal to her to sing the other lines without much success. She was overwhelmed by the more than 20 schools represented in the competition-hall. “Everybody was angry with me afterwards. I had to keep a low profile.” This experience did not stop her from singing but made her restrain from taking the lead roles.
We went straight into talking about her concert.”I thought about doing the concert last year,” Hope Nabukenya said referring to 2015. However, because she was at the beginning phases of her project that needed a lot of energy and attention, she could not hold the concert then. Child Sexual Violence, Abuse and Discrimination is the name of her cause. Hers is a new approach on the prevention strategy. She looks at the situation from the child’s point of view and develops a curriculum that children can go through to get enlightened about Sexual violence, abuse and discrimination. “I do this so that they can have an idea of what a threat is, or who is a potential perpetrator of such evil acts.” This she said because, according to Hope Nabukenya, children are so innocent and do not know a thing about the intentions of a wicked generation. It is her heart’s desire to equip children to be safe from any violence, abuse and or discrimination.
“Also, the other reason why I couldn’t hold my concert last year was because I had little funds and I did not have enough time to look for it.” Furthermore, the break from singing upon returning helped her regain her loyal following since she moved and performed to different crowds in and around Kampala, mostly in churches.
Now she is ready and come the 20th of November at Silver Springs Bugolobi, she is set to hold a concert featuring fellow gospel musicians like Pragmo, Michael Kitanda, Canaan Gents, The Herald Choir, Kahiri, Baroness, Danielle Puleng, Blended Live Band, The Harmonics and Ssozi Moses. The concert starts at 4:30 pm with Ordinary tickets going for 15,000 shillings whereas the VIP tickets require one to part with 50,000 shillings and 100,000 shillings for VVIP.
Given this list, it appears this might be an event worth all your attention.