Quick Talk meets Angella Katatumba at Hotel Diplomate, where they talk about her work, that never-ending Shumuk court case, and singing for Luis Moreno-Ocampo, among other things.
What is [your latest song] The Struggle about?
Let me send it to your email. [Scrolling through her phone] It’s about my life. You have heard the things we are going through. It is not easy. People drop dead in these things.
[After finding it] You know I like writing about what I am going through. This court case has been six years. I am woken up: “Angella wake up, we are going to court. These ones are saying we are lying.” We have people trying to bring us down. But the song can relate to those struggling in love or life generally.
What has it been like going to court for six years?
It is a freaking nightmare, man. It is messed up. Judges won’t come but they don’t inform you, so you go to court and wait.
And there are many adjournments because the other side is not ready! It is also very disturbing because we have seen a lot of corruption. Ggwe, we thought we could trust the system, we are the people who took the case to court and now our hands are tied. You know we used to hear Museveni diss judges, saying they are corrupt and we would laugh...
Yet you still had so much faith in the system...?
Because we are like that. We have so much faith. If you see my dad, he is so sweet and trusting. How do you give someone your titles? [Allegedly to Mukesh Shukla aka Shumuk]
I’m also a bit trusting but because our generation is a little more shrewd, I am a little more aware.
You know people come to us offering witch-doctors. They say: “You are spending all that money yet this man can help you. Bring [Shs] 200,000 and we will see.”
It is more people than you think. When we tell them that we trust in Jesus, they laugh at us and say: “Temunnalaba with your Jesus.” But the Lord has seen us through so many years; my dad is turning 68 tomorrow [April 3]; so, why should we change now? This thing has revealed so much; 80 per cent people believe in other gods too.
What are your emotions as you go through this trial?
The court system is frustrating. But this has been good for the family; it has brought us together. We plan and pray together.
What exactly is this case about? Some people may not know.
It is a looooong story. Shumuk was supposed to buy Katatumba Suites at $5m, but he paid only three [million dollars] and convinced my father to move out to start renovations.
When we moved out, the man said, now you will see. He tried to take over all our properties and tried to evict us from here (Hotel Diplomate). Today I saw an article saying ‘Katatumba evicted’ but we are here. This is messing with our business.
Away from the court case, what was performing for Ocampo like?
It was wonderful. But I have performed for presidents, naawe. On May 12, 2011, I performed at Museveni’s swearing-in and sang before 13 heads of state. With Ocampo it is great though because we are fighting the same cause – the injustice in Gulu.
Is Ocampo cute?
Oh my God...he is an old man. But everyone is handsome. He is cute with a wonderful heart.
Now, there is this man, I forget his name, but he used to be very vocal till he was given a ministerial post...I forget his name…
Do you really, Quick Talk?
Hahaha, yes. [Angella looks unconvinced] Seriously.
Hon [Henry] Banyenzaki.
Yes, Banyenzaki. Did you ever date?
That story came up a billion times. We were working together; we had a real estate company. But any man I am spotted with, people say I am dating him.
Really? Well, are you dating?
Yes, but I will not say who.
Who do you rate as the best MP?
I’m not into politics. I love the rebels, though.
Huh, Muhammad Nsereko must tickle your insides, then.
[Toughly] Not at all. I like the rebels that fight injustice and not the ones that want to show off. I’ve followed (Theodore) Sekikubo when he fought with (Sam) Kutesa for his votes. [Huh, who doesn’t remember that flying kick to the ballots basin, oba?] I admire people like that.
What kind of man do you like?
God-fearing, loving, respectful, understanding and well-groomed. Bannange, don’t forget that because people don’t take grooming seriously.
What is that one event in history that you would change?
Nothing, because everything happens for a reason. You know I used to be married, for eight years.
Yes, eight years on paper but we were together for three...It was a nightmare. I was married to a violent man. He wouldn’t beat me, but he would break tables.
Ah, that wasn’t a Ugandan. We are too poor to break tables [we go for human legs].
[Like Quick Talk is on point] Munnange. He was my first boyfriend and we got married in England. Then we moved to Chicago and he left me.
I prayed for death and asked God, why am I here? I lost 38kg in three weeks because; I used to be 100kg. It was so bad. I was eating ice. I discovered the book of Job during that time.
Ho, Job must have depressed you.
It is the most powerful story for anyone that is suffering. I would wake up and say, Jesus, am I alive today? I felt pain and did not know where it was. When I read Job, I realised that my struggle was not an inch of his.
But what was the purpose of that experience [she said everything happens for a reason]?
It refined me, the way a diamond is refined by fire. I used to be spoilt. Every small thing I wanted, I would call my dad. After that experience, I started working and became independent. I had put all my faith in [in husband Ward] Alonzo.
When Alonzo was leaving, I was on the floor, holding onto his leg and begging him not to leave. But I came through it stronger and better. Naye Jesus is sarcastic, because I was happier after that experience.
[Angella was 21 when she got married and says she choked her husband on love and that could be one of the reasons he left. She would text in the morning, “Baby I love you” – hahaha – and then call asking where he was.
Angella confesses, no Ugandan musician sings music that speaks to her heart: “The problem is Ugandans are not big on messages”. She loves Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Cece Winans and Celine Dion.
She cries a lot, especially in prayer. “I am emotional.”]