When Dr Hilderman [real name Hillary Innocent Kiyaga] finally meets Quick Talk after quite a ‘chase’, he apologizes profusely. The last time Quick Talk contacted the singer, he was in Bugiri district campaigning for Asuman Basalirwa, who won the bye-election.
Hi Dr Hilderman…wow, okuze! [Quick Talk is shocked that Dr Hilderman is graying very fast.]
[Laughs] Yeah, we are growing older every day; how are you?
I’m fine. What’s up; you are so quiet musically.
Yeah, I gave myself a break; music is not a job you can do forever. I had taken a break to evaluate myself and experiment with other things.
Business – I have a shop at Cham Towers – I do farming in the village, which consumes my time.
How do I put it… a musical farmer!
[Laughs] I do it for the passion; when it is passion, one can easily excel. When I took a break, I had to do something. [His last hit album, Omwana Agenda, was released in 2016.]
Why do you call yourself ‘doctor’?
I was a student of Performing Arts at Makerere University and there is a course unit called Therapy. I was good at it; so, students nicknamed me Doctor.
I saw you on Asuman Basalirwa’s campaign trail. That was unexpected! [Before, Hilderman has been on NRM-leaning campaign trails, most notably Trade, Industry and Cooperatives minister Amelia Kyambadde’s.]
I’m part of the struggle. I believe it is time for Uganda to change leadership. We thank the old leadership, but they should accept that [other] people can do what they have failed to accomplish.
I rally behind people who fight for change [Hilderman stresses he was not paid to support Basalirwa.] I did it in Jinja, Rukungiri and Kyadondo.
Talking politics, do you plan to test the waters?
Yeah! The future is ours. At 35, it is our future now! This is the future our parents and teachers used to talk about.
Best of luck, man. Which area are you looking at?
What!? That is Amelia Kyambadde’s constituency. The same Amelia you supported and serenaded with Amelia.
Yeah! We gave her a chance to serve and she has done her best. She should retire. Retirement is a culture we want to teach our old leaders. They need to give way for young blood to take on leadership… I’m coming in 2021.
Big ambition. I thought Amelia was your chum.
[Looking serious] Yes! She is my friend, but she has been there for two terms. I’m proposing two terms for MPs. This should not be a family dynasty thing. [Well, Hon. Amelia be prepared; young blood is coming! And it comes with swag, gray hair, sharp suits and a husky voice.]
Is this a Bobi Wine project?
Bobi Wine just stamped it. There has been a perception that artistes are nobodies, jokers or wasted people, yet we deal with many people and move to all parts of the country. [hmmm, Bobi Wine is creating followers. Good for him.]
Politics aside, what song are you currently listening to?
Bizzeemu by Ronald Mayinja. It takes us back in time and relates to the present situation. We have become enemies of the state because we are saying the truth.
I sense a stubborn streak. What was your childhood like?
I was very humble but unpredictable. I liked when my actions spoke louder than words. Life was always a struggle; I first wore a pair of shoes in S.1.
I walked long distances to primary school … we used to herd cows during school time, and when teachers saw us…kiboko. [I remember] going to school with firewood and fetching water for our teachers. When I look at my children now… [laughs] these people are enjoying!
I know! If you were not a musician…
…I would be doing marketing.
If you were to do a collabo, which musician would you go for?
Bobi Wine for now. And Lucky Dube (RIP).
Your style is so different from Lucky Dube’s!
It’s the market demand that dictates in Uganda; that’s why I don’t do reggae, but I’m a reggae man.
Your song Campus Girl; do you still have that girl?
[Laughs] It was just a song. It was not personal. I had that campus girl but I don’t know where she disappeared to [laughs heartily].
Aah, musicians and women!
No, it’s the people of Kikuubo that have lodges in the basements or upper floors of their arcades. We musicians don’t have lodges backstage.
Okay, if you say so… Now, your favourite musician?
Sylver seems quite brilliant and talented. But what do you have against Bebe Cool?
Things came right from Tubonga Naawe [the controversial 2015 song Bebe Cool was behind that many musicians collaborated on in support of President Museveni’s re-election bid]. Being a musician I expected a song for the president to have content. We blame politicians for lying to the president about the plight of the people, but we also do it through our songs.
We artistes have problems with copyright, then thank the president for promoting music; that’s a lie.
[Then came] the mobile money tax. We are fighting for the people – not that we don’t want to contribute to national development, but we don’t want to be exploited. If you come out and call me a cockroach, I come up and reply.
We are tired of people who use situations to get bags of money from State House and Uganda Revenue Authority. Bebe Cool should not remind me about paying taxes….if you don’t know the types of taxes, keep quiet. Otherwise, Bebe Cool is a brother in the music fraternity, but should stop exploiting situations to get money.
So, if you were Bebe Cool for a day, what would you do?
Not everything calls for his comment. If I were Bebe Cool, I would listen, then talk.
Moving on…who is the lucky lady?
When did you last take her out?
During the ‘Jubireewo’…Kabaka’s 25th anniversary dinner.
You man, that was a public function!
Ook…! I try every weekend … it is always a day with my family.
I thought weekends is when musicians are busy… Anyway; any children?
I have five.
And when did you last cook for your sweetheart?
I think two weeks ago.
I cooked goat’s meat and rice.
When do you give us another Double Bed Mazongoto? [The song that made Hilderman.]
My two-year break has given me time to prepare myself. Once it’s over, songs like Mazongoto will come out.
This very August, we are finishing the videos soon.
These new-age musicians are running some of you ‘oldies’ out of the business!
They are setting new trends which are not sustainable. We are losing the original creativity. They are copycats; they use sounds of other music.
The industry becomes stagnated locally; and internationally we are seen as copycats, yet they have nothing to lose.
What is your dream destination?
If you were president for a day…
I would arrest all corrupt officials in that one day. Although he [the real president] would release them the next day [laughs].
You love white. What is the secret?
White is pure and attractive.
It is also associated with clean people; are you obsessed with cleanliness?
I’m not very clean; neither am I a dirty person. I just like white.
So, if I came to your home, would I feel free to put my legs on the chairs or even smoke?
I’m a free person. I like to give people conducive environment. I’m open-minded but sometimes reserved.
How many pairs of shoes do you have?
[He gives Quick Talk an ‘are you serious?’ look] I have 40 pairs. I love shoes, [when] they go beyond 40 pairs, I give them out. [40 is a lot by men’s standards, Quick Talk thinks. But then again, the dude first wore shoes in S.1…]
What takes the most space in your wardrobe?
Pants and trousers…. I’m not a suits person. Everybody in Uganda puts on suits; they have lost meaning.
Hillary Innocent Kiyaga was born in 1982, in Kampiringisa village, Kamengo, Mpigi District.
He is the son to the late Morris Nsubuga and Margaret Nakanwangi. He has 12 siblings.
Hilderman attended Kampiringisa primary school, St Kalemba Nazigo for O- level and Mityana Senior Secondary School for A-level before joining Makerere University for a bachelor’s degree in Performing Arts (previously known as Music, Dance and Drama – MDD).
He also holds a postgraduate diploma in Leadership and Management from Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya. His chart-topping songs include Amelia, Mazongoto, Campus Girl, and Abite Ebikutte.