It is rare to hear of mothers who inspire their children to develop the passion for music. Many mothers in West Nile don’t have time for music given their daily domestic chores and other roles.
But that was not the case with Mrs Peace Mbabazi, the mother of Adam Mandela a.k.a Freeboy who also calls himself the true African boy.
Mrs Mbabazi, a business woman, had enough collection of record players which she used to listen to both at home and in her Kiosk on daily basis before the coming of FM radio stations in Uganda.
Little did she know that her love for music will one day inspire her son (Freeboy) to become a musician.
Born to Hajj Adam Angua of Yumbe Town Council, Yumbe district in 1988, Freeboy, the last born of 4, grew up with his mother in Kampala.
Mrs Mbabazi relocated to Kisenyi, a suburb of Kampala after developing a misunderstanding with Angua in 1991.
While in Kisenyi, Freeboy grew up miming songs of popular Afrigo Band, Zambian Artiste Oliver Mutukuzi, Lucky Dube, Philly Collins and Chris the Back which his mother loved listening to.
Later in 2002, Mrs Mbabazi returned to West Nile and this time she remained in Arua’s Ombizoku Cell, River Oli Division where she continued with her business to sustain her family of young children.
This life wasn’t easy for Freeboy who despite all hurdles, kept his musical dream alive even at school in Arua Hill Primary School and later Arua Public Secondary School.
How he started
While in school in 2004, Freeboy composed his first song ‘Sita Badilika’ (I won’t change), a love song. It was hard for him to have the song recorded but aware of his passion for music; Freeboy’s elder brother gave him sh50, 000 to go to a recording studio.
At that time, there were few recording studios in Arua Town of which Audio Wave was the first with a standard recording fee of sh100, 000 per song.
Freeboy decided to approach DJ Ronnie, the Audio Wave studio director who allowed him to record the song at sh50, 000. Sita Badilika later turned out to be a hit on local Fm stations in Arua and that marked the turning point in his life.
The song gave Freeboy courage to move from club to club to perform for people for free, an idea that marketed him more.
It was from one of the clubs that Mr Mickdad Totia, a.k.a Papa Paps of Jomic studio spotted him and gave him a chance to record three songs in his studio for free. The songs are; ‘meant to be,’ ‘Kwanini,’ a collaboration with Mr Blue, a Tanzanian Artiste and ‘Corruption.’
The songs equally received massive air play pushing Freeboy to go and face the World.
The road to success
Freeboy later left Arua for Kampala with an aim of looking forward to be signed by a recognised Record Label. As he kept on having free shows even in Kampala, he met with Ugandan Hip Hop star, GNL Zamba also the President of Baboon Forest Entertainment.
With his RnB musical background, Freeboy was signed by GNL Zamba to mainly sing the chorus part of his songs. Freeboy contributed to GNL Zamba’s ‘speaking vernacular’ album which massively sold out in 2011.
GNL Zamba continued mentoring him in music business and what it takes to stay relevant in the industry. As a result, Freeboy got the opportunity to perform during many big events in Kampala with various Artistes like Navio, Mun G, Big Trill and Nava Grey among others.
It was until 2012 when his pursuit for a Diploma in Sales and Marketing at Makerere Business Institute (MBI) fell through due to lack of tuition fees that he returned to Arua to fully join the music industry.
On his return Freeboy found a different environment; he got a chance to work on his own projects after realising that the Music Industry had grown in Arua town with good recording studios.
This time round he went to F Records, a recording studio in Awindiri, a suburb of Arua town where he recorded ‘Off and On,’ a song produced by Producer Don. The song didn’t do well prompting Freeboy to immediately record a club banger titled ‘Magic.’
Magic sold Freeboy not only in Arua but in the whole of Northern Uganda and Kampala as it got airplay on different radios and Television stations in Uganda.
The song won Freeboy an award of the best West Nile RnB Artiste of the year 2015 by West Nile Entertainment Awards.
The award was enough to buoy Freeboy to record more songs like Letaa, Alemi, Kiwewe and Blind which are still hitting up to date.
Alemi also won him the Northern Region Entertainment Award 2016 best RnB Artiste of the Year in Gulu town.
Freeboy’s current selling song is ‘Sabala,’ a cultural dance that calls for two partners to dance together. The song is a blend of the late 1980s Kalimba sound mixed with West Nile’s Duluka bits and the current urban sound. It is a success because everybody is dancing to it.
The song got for Freeboy a few International contacts expressing willingness to work with him.
He has now partnered with #Defyhatenow, a German based organization to have peace building concerts in refugee settlement camps in West Nile region and South Sudan. It was with the help of #Defyhatenow that Freeboy’s ‘Peace for All’ song was launched in Berlin, Nairobi and Juba.
Freeboy wants to be a musical Ambassador who will turn the impossible into possible by making West Nile music to sale globally. Perhaps he is among the few West Nile Artistes who have realised that the region is rich in sound.
He now intends to blend West Nile local sounds into the current urban sound that can sale the region to the outside world.
Being a peace activist, he wants to use his voice to change the lives of people living in war torn Countries in Africa by contributing to peace building through music.
He is also mindful of upcoming Artistes whom he wants to mentor so as to use their songs as a tool to positively change the World.
Inadequate finance has limited most of Freeboy’s projects in pipeline. He cannot have proper videos that would play on International Television stations since it is costly to produce good videos. He encourages people of good will to consider investing in video production in Arua as it prepares to become a city.
Freeboy’s songs need proper video script writers who are lacking in Arua yet he doesn’t have a manager to link him to good ones in Kampala.
He currently relies on Audios which he markets on local FM Radio stations and Televisions in Uganda including digital online platforms like iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Microsoft stores, howwe.biz; making his music to travel worldwide.