For Ugandans living their lives off a couch and TV, Sandra Nakitto Suubi is the girl that won the very first Ugandan chapter of Trace Airtel Music Star singing competition that was premiered at the beginning of 2015; yet for many environment enthusiasts, she is the girl that has a freewill of getting spaces rid of plastic waste; and to visual artists, she’s an eco-art buff.
She has recycled all sorts of plastic in the past to create décor for festival stage backdrops and, of course, exhibited alongside other artistes.
“For me eco-art and the use of plastics is like unlocking the mind,” she tells The Observer at Imperial Royale hotel, where she is attending an awards show on Saturday.
She notes it is about what a plastic bottle can do or turn into that interests her most. But all this comes from her background with the young generation of Ugandans; she says many have failed to do the things they thought would change their lives because they don’t have resources.
With eco-art though, she feels like her mind is unlocked to work with what life has availed her; “Whatever you think you need is with you. For me, plastic is that,” she says adding that people throw away plastic materials, but when they see what she turns them into, like her, their minds are unlocked.
Her eco-art work has in the past been used at LaBa! Arts festival where she created a humongous musical headset out of mineral water bottles in 2014. She would go on to build the stage backdrop art for Bayimba International festival – a huge logo of the foundation made out of mineral water bottle shreds.
Surprisingly, even when many parents want their children away from the arts, Suubi proudly says her family is always willing to help.
“My dad is a civil engineer, thus many of the times I am creating work, he likes to assume the role of the lead artist; he usually helps with the structures at times,” she says, adding she has gotten all the needed support from her family that she can’t take for granted.
“I know there are very many talented people that have tried to do what I do but didn’t get any support from their families,” she says.
During the Airtel Trace Music Star competition, she says her family used to hold meetings to strategise how they would help her win.
“How many Ugandan families do you know that have people that will leave their official duties to help another member win a music competition?”
In fact, her latest single, Nsiimye, is both a prayer of thanks to God for among other things giving her a loving and supporting family. Written by Brian Lubega of the Nnungamya fame and produced by Sam Bisaso, Nsiimye is Suubi’s way of taking in all that has happened since winning the competition at the beginning of 2015.
“After Togwamu Suubi with Benezeri, this is my first offering to the public and my thanks for everything.”
Together with Benezeri and again Bisaso, they had recorded Togwamu Suubi after encountering Phiona Mutesi’s amazing Queen of Katwe story. The song was written in hope that it would end up as the film soundtrack, but even when it did not, she is proud they have a song that inspires Ugandans not to give up.
“That song is going to be here for ages; it talks to everyone.”
At the Victoria Gospel Academy (VIGA) awards held last Saturday in Kampala, Nsiimye got Suubi nominated for two awards; Best New Artiste, Best RnB Song and a songwriting nomination for Lubega.
She walked away with the Best New Artiste accolade. Suubi says after the 2015 competition, she did not rush to studio because she had a lot of learning to do about herself, today, she believes she has discovered the kind of artiste she wants to be but above all compliment visual art with music.