The Struggle to Become a Superstar

root - Posted on 18 October 2008

An Illin n Chillin International report from Uganda

by Leroy Moore/PNN

Ronnie Ooh a.k.a Muwanga Ronald is Ugandan, an experienced Journalist by profession and one of the most promising disabled singers in Uganda. Below is an excerpt from his book "The Struggle of becoming a SuperStar,” which he shared with Leroy Moore in his column Illin-n-Chillin

Ronnie was a lonely child born to Mr. Kaboggoza Joseph, a Muganda, and a retired carpenter now a resident of Lubaga and the late Margaret Kuwebwa, who was a Musoga and a business woman, who died on 29th November 1990 after one week of sitting my Primary Leaving Examinations(P.L.E) rather standard seven exams at Namalemba Mixed Day and Boarding Primary School

Many people may and might take it for granted that my success to come (if it happens as planned) would arrive on a silver platter, a life without struggle.

I also must point out for those who may wish to stand by me and support my efforts in all my endeavors, that I plan on using my music career to reach out to the world with educative and richly informed messages.

I was born a normal bouncing baby boy in 1977 in Jinja Hospital but at the age of three years according to the information available with my father, I got a boot of malaria which led my parents to seek advice from my aunt, the late Theresa Najjemba who was by then working as a senior midwife at Busesa Dispensary in Iganga District.

She advised my parents to take me to Busesa Dispensary where my lower right limb was treated with a Chroloquine injection on the nerve. Although we were staying at Namasoga we by-passed Iganga Referal Hospital where I could get proper treatment.

Before my mother died in November 1990, she had told me that before the physicality of my affected lower right limb got worse, I did not take much time to start walking as a baby and used to run fast and play with my peers as a child. But when I got the injection, I lost a lot of weight and the physical appearance of my lower right limb was alarming as it was growing thinner and thinner compared to my lower left limb. She said I could no longer play, support myself to stand nor walk but only could sit and cry. I become a baby once gain thus it was a hard learning moment and time for my parents.

Before she finished telling me the whole story, my eyes had become wet with tears. I tried to hold them back, but could not help crying as I thought about the physical life experience I went through at such an early age and about the chances and opportunities I was denied due to my disability.

This was a time of temptation and forgiveness for me, something I had never taken time to think about even though I am a strong catholic believer. It took both of my parents’ strength to make me believe that what went wrong with my lower right limb was only because of malaria and irresponsible medical personnel.

It was such a moment of tension, I cursed myself immediately when I started thinking of children I used to play with in the neighborhoods and schoolmates that used to give me hard time. They used to imitate me by limping around and calling me "akalema", meaning a small lame person, "Katonda kyava yakukuba omugo n' olemala", meaning that is why God made you lame.

Up to now I have failed to understand this world and I will never understand the level of discrimination that exists in it. I do not experience this alone but know that other disabled people experience it too.

In 1997, I lived in Bugembe in the Jinja District with one of my long time schoolmates; a friend by the name of Joseph. We had attended Nakanyonyi Primary School as classmates in Primary one (Standard one). He knew I had a problem with my eyes as they are squinted (not straight), and openly told me "Wenna omubiri gw' oli mulema", meaning all my body parts are disabled. It took me a long time to realize that the only reason he had said that was because of a dispute we had earlier.

One time in 2001, my brother-in-law and I escorted my fiancé to the Park Yard of St. Balikuddembe Market (the former Owino market to get shoes) one vendor around where we had opted to buy the shoes shouted to my fiancé that "omulema taba namukazi", meaning a disabled person is not worthy to have a fiancé or wife. I felt uncomfortable, so embarrassed and felt too small in front of my brother-in-law and fiancé and regretted going to the market.

I have also been denied opprotunities to work with different non-governmental organizations and companies due to the physical nature of my disability. Although some of these jobs require a physically fit candidate and I believe that I posses the necessary qualifications, I have been denied jobs because of my disability.

With such life experiences, I realized that I was born to have a hard life in a harsh and rude society. In 1985 and 1988 I was a pupil at Namalembe Boarding Primary School. One day in 1989, I had to convince my mother to get me a doctor's letter of health concern to be addressed to the school administration to protect me from hard work.

She got me the letter and it indeed helped me alot since it was my security that guarded me from rude teachers who used to punish me with harsh activities. In January 1989 when we were going to take a taxi at Bugembe, my father showed me the Doctor who injected me on the nerve. (I still don’t know if this was necessary or an accident.)

He was old enough and had retired. I did not ask any question but just looked at the doctor as he boarded another taxi. It took me sometime to talk to my father about the doctor. While at home in December 1990 after the death of my lovely mother, I approached my father with two questions. One was why they decided to take the advice of my late Aunt Theresa to take me to Busesa Dispensary and by-passed Iganga Referral Hospital? The second was if he knew where the doctor was residing.

Before he could answer any question he looked at me while asking why I had asked him such questions. I told him am that I was not angry any more but just wanted to know. He took time thinking about it but later said the doctor died in August 1989. I did not wait for the answer to the second question but immediately told my father to let his soul rest in eternal peace. I told my father that if he had told me the doctor was still alive, I was going to request him to take me to his home, and talk to him about the difficulties I had so far faced with the society due to being disabled. I was ready to forgive him but I forgave him and asked the Almighty God to judge him with mercy.

He said they tried so much to do whatever was possible with the little resources they had to rescue my worrying situation by visiting different professional doctors in Jinja and Iganga Hospitals but nothing was positive but only left to pray to the ALMIGHTY for his mercy. He said my mother entrusted her prayers to Mary the virgin mother, and she got answered. I slowly started leaning on tables, chairs and could support myself but with a lot of difficulties until my lower right limb become strong enough to lift and support body.

Part II My career in Journalism

Before completing my Journalism course in 2000 as a requirement for a diploma, I was required to do an internship with any media organization, which many refer to as "Industrial training." I did my internship, with Radio Sanyu where I was promised by the News Editor that if any of my articles were used, I would be paid 3,000 Uganda shillings (about 1 and 1/2 dollar).

To my surprise after a month, Richard asked me to go to the company accountant to pick my money. I was paid only 3,000 Shillings implying only one article was used, but in reality all of articles about 30 of them were used.

After my internship, I stopped reporting to the station and kept on wondering how I could continue working with such exploitation and left thinking about the difficulties I had been going through including climbing up to the sixth floor.

With a lot of struggle through January 2002, I decided to switch to the television section. I was assigned to report for WBS television station as a correspondent based in Iganga, then in April 2002 assigned to cover the 1st Africa Military Games in Nairobi without any facilitation but also paid per story used. Unfortunately, with my sweat in Nairobi, I did not get any money for the stories although the Sport Editor acknowledged using the articles and footages.

Although my career had grown steadily with the Television station management accepting my application to report from the East African Community Seretariate in Arusha, Tanzania, my attempts to get my name on the staff list and be paid per month as a staff did not bear any fruit.

In 2003, I decided to discover my gifted natural talent and shared about my idea of starting to sing to my fiancé. At first she could not believe until I started writing and shown her one song entitled " Omukyala w' Africa." She encouraged me then and there.

So far I have written more than 70 songs in Luganda, Swahili, English and French with genres of Reggae, dancehall, Worship, Hip Hop and Contemporary. But have only recorded four songs due to lack of resources.

Currently, I am working as a broadcaster with TV WA, a northern region based television station and have acquired some resources that have enabled me work on my two music videos and set up a video studio.


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