Diplock Ssegawa, the leader of popular 1990s outfit, the Wrens, is best known for his 35-year-old hit, Sooka Omunoonye, and last week at the National theatre, he celebrated the song in a special way.
The song is a staple at Buganda introduction ceremonies (kwanjula) to this day and fans filled up the theatre to get treated to Ssegawa’s songs for two hours.
He sang Beera Nange, Party Song, Tuginenyeza Bwerere, Friendship, Obudde Butuuse, Abakyala Beebazibwe, Abavubuka, Nkomyewo and Obunnanfuusi. The highlight of the night was predictably when he performed Sooka Omunoonye, sending fans into cheers and wild dances.
He said that during rehearsals in 1991, his colleague Maria Nakyagaba proposed that they record Sooka Omunoonye, which would later become a hit.
“I immediately bought the idea and we recorded,” he said.
The show got emotional as a teary Ssegawa thanked those in the audience that shaped his musical career. He called to the stage his eldest daughter who is deaf, to give her life testimony. Despite her impairment, she is now married with two children and working with dfcu bank.
Ssegawa has released 11 albums since 1987. He says he has over 200 songs yet to be released. Born in Wakiso district to Benjamin and Aida Katumba, both musicians, Ssegawa, the seventh of 10 children, started singing in their family choir, the Mirembe Family Choir, in the 1980s, under their father’s tutelage.
“Back home in Kaababbi, Bulondo, there was a tree where we used to gather and sing as a family. Our father corrected us whenever we made mistakes and gave us credit for good performances.”
Ssegawa started writing songs in 1982, and later honed his musical skills when he began to translate gospel songs from English into Luganda. He formed The Wrens in 1982 and they performed in Uganda, the UK and Sweden in the 1990s.
He left for the UK in 2000, where he conducted choirs in churches including St Jude and Aiden Church of England Choir at Thornton Heath near Croydon and St John’s Waterloo Luganda Church Choir in Central London.