The Ganda Boys | The Inspiring Story of Musical Group Whose Foundation is Making a Difference!

Posted October 24, 2016 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Charity ~ 6,110 views


Q1. Are the Ganda Boys and the Ganda Foundation the same institution? What are the major activities of the Foundation and what are the activities of the Ganda Boys?

Q1a: The Ganda Boys and their charitable organisation, the Ganda Foundation, are distinctly two separate entities and keep their trade and financial activities quite separate. The Ganda Boys are purely a music group, which composes, records and performs our songs, yet contains the inspiration for our social message and creates a beautiful conduit for telling our stories and inspiring people around the globe. The latter, our Ganda Foundation, is a UK registered charity, that is entirely concerned about delivering aid to the needy. We have operated mainly in rural Uganda since 2009, focusing on Kawolo and Mulogo hospitals (medical equipment) and Lugazi Community Primary School (educational materials and computer labs). Recently, in the last couple of years, we have taken on the wider refugee cause in both Uganda and also in Europe. (see questions 9, 10 and 11 below)

Q2. How did you come to the musical scene?

Q2a: The Ganda Boys first met together at the BBC in London in 2008, when our Ganda Boys music director, Craig Pruess, was commissioned to compose the music for a BBC prime time television series called “Moses Jones” — an award-winning drama about Ugandan musicians struggling to survive in London, UK. Former Ugandan popular group, DaTwinz (Denis Mugagga and Daniel Sewagudde) had been living in London for some years and were asked to advise the series production team on Ugandan culture, and ended up assisting Craig in writing four African-fusion songs that became part of the key drama scenes. A feature of the series was a live African band in full swing in a London “African” styled club — expertly constructed by the BBC carpenters and stylists. These scenes and songs became part of the drama. The musical collaboration for this project was so successful, and the music so appreciated (a British Academy Award nomination for Best Original Music for Craig Pruess) that it was quite effortless that Craig, Denis and Daniel would continue to work together. Ganda Boys as a name and new identity quickly followed, as did the first concerts, recordings and then more and more songs. It hasn’t stopped since then!

Q3. Why did you change to another music genre?

Q3a. The evolution from DaTwinz to the Ganda Boys can be described very succinctly as: “message”. From recording music/songs to entertain and catch the public’s ear as good popular music does, to creating songs and stories about social situations and real dreams and wider global issues — this happened naturally with the Ganda Boys. It was the chemistry between the three of us. It felt right, we felt we had a lot to say, and we have always felt that it is bringing the best of African traditional chants fused with meaningful and thought-provoking English lyrics to an international audience. It’s a far broader musical palette than DaTwinz, with a more global flavour, even orchestral string arrangements. The Queen of Buganda, the gracious Nnabagereka, has said often that the Ganda Boys have now helped put Ugandan music onto the international map, creating style and substance for an international listening audience, with direct pointers back to the rich musical heritage of Uganda.


Q4. You have been nominated for the IMA Music Awards; what impact does this nomination have on the group?

Q4a: It is similar as with the BAFTA nomination, and the Royal Television Society Awards nomination, and now being listed for a GRAMMY nomination — it is very auspicious for our international stature, especially in that it gives us a wider platform for our message to be heard. And wherever our message is heard and people resonate with the songs and feelings, it paves the way for the Ganda Foundation to have more members and more volunteers to step forward and make a difference in other people’s lives. This is a very satisfying process to witness.

Q5. How many awards have you been nominated for and how many have you won?

Q5a: In addition to those mentioned above, we have also been nominated for the Arts for Peace Award in Los Angeles. For many of these nominations, we are awaiting the results, but if we win any, you will be the first to know! Just to be nominated is a great honor and gives us greater credibility among future audiences and our peers.

Q6. I know you are a music group, who usually do music for charity, but I see many artists doing music for profit or to earn a living, what is the difference between you and them?

Q6a: We also do concerts for fees that help pay our way and/or pay for our expenses and personal needs. Sometimes we struggle a little bit. We are not wealthy financiers or businessmen, but working musicians/composers. But we are feeling a bigger calling in our unique position as ambassadors for peace, harmony and goodwill for this Earth! Have you noticed how effective and uniting it is when there are large celebrations? We gladly take part in these types of events. It is important for humanity to realise how celebration and music and uplifting songs can bring people — people who might even be on opposing sides of conflict/idealogy/religion/politics — together as one. Wherever this is happening in the world, we will be there. It is a great honour for us. This motivates us greatly.

Q7. What are the main activities of the Foundation? Where does the Ganda Foundation get funds for all your charity work?

Q7a: Our Ganda Foundation is dedicated to contributing towards sustainable and empowered communities in Uganda. In other words, we want to give aid in a way that helps people to help themselves. A very good example of this is the computer lab we are helping to build for the Lugazi Community Primary School in the Buikkwe District, east of Kampala. By bringing the internet and the wide world of learning to these young minds, we are planting the seeds for a new generation of global citizens, aware and useful members of an informed and effective work force — future leaders. A basic requirement for progress is peace and stability, and luckily this has dawned in recent times in Uganda, and therefore this is an important time to move forward. Basic health needs of the people are also urgent, so our work in the hospitals is on that fundamental humanitarian level: incubators, operating tables, medical supplies. For immediate and important projects, we often dig into our own pockets to meet urgent financial costs like shipment of medical supplies or delivery of computers. We plan ahead and hold fund-raising concerts, plus we appeal directly to our friends, families, supporters, fans and colleagues whenever something important comes up that needs to be done within our Foundation’s objectives. We have regular donations from our Members, too. It’s amazing how much people want to help a good cause.


Q8. What is the major target of the Ganda Foundation?

Q8a: To inform, to inspire and to serve! We are slightly different from other aid agencies because we approach our work from the arts: from film, music soundtracks and communication networks (social media). Because we are all experienced media people, we find it quite natural to document our Foundation activities, frame them in a meaningful way, thereby reaching out to many new people. We have seen many times in Europe that when we screen short films of our Ganda Foundation work during a fund-raising music concert, we have people step forward and actually procure hospital equipment, even doctors booking a flight to Uganda to hold workshops and deliver medical equipment! The nature of heart-to-heart communication is what we excel at and we feel very humbled and grateful that we can do this important humanitarian work in this way. When you look into the eyes of a young person who has grown up benefiting from the Ganda Foundation, life-changing — you feel that deep in your soul — well, nothing can match that experience.

Q9. Recently, you have a new campaign, The Forgotten People, please can you say something about this project, like who are the forgotten people?

Q9a: In the world today, there are over 52 million people who are displaced from their homelands. The reasons are various, from natural disasters to civil war, from famine to military conflict, from forced displacement to ethnic cleansing. But all share the same trait: intense suffering. It is hard to imagine what it must be like to live close to your land for generations, and then find yourself on a road to somewhere else, with few possessions on your back, and little chance to return home. Uganda itself has the fifth largest refugee population in the world, with an influx from Southern Sudan, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and the drought in Kenya. The Middle East conflict with Syria has created one of the biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe in recent times with over a million refugees coming into the borders. Even homeless people, displaced within their own communities — a growing problem in the USA — are also the “forgotten people”. People ignore them. Most are not even accounted for or the subjects of aid or shelter. It’s very harsh, and society has become numb to this human disaster.

Q10. How will the forgotten people benefit from this project?

Q10a: Thanks to our international partners and visionary collaborators with the Ganda Foundation, we have identified some very modern and rapid ways that we can deliver direct aid to refugees on the move. What all refugees need are the tools and skills to reintegrate into new communities. In the case of refugees from Syria, many are professional people, and use smart phones or tablets to help navigate across foreign lands in their quest to find a place of safety and stability for their families. Our American partner, UCLA Extention programme in Los Angeles (attached to one of the largest universities in the USA, UCLA — University of California, Los Angeles), has devised effective aid IT packages consisting of 1) job re-training info; 2) language aids; 3) local customs and etiquette; and 4) contacts and local services. This type of aid can have an immediate impact on a traveling refugee. It has been inspiring to see aid organisations offering free SIM cards and data packages to refugees crossing the European borders. Many hardships and uncertainties are there, but this kind of practical aid delivers great hope and support. Refugees receiving this kind of aid don’t feel “forgotten”! For the impoverished and hopeless throngs in remote refugee camps, UCLA Extension has what are called “community based education programmes” — a brilliant concept, designed to engage all age groups to undertake basic projects together, like constructing rain collectors, or creating desert gardens — useful and resourceful activities. This creates a template for setting up education classes in a basic form. But remember, people cannot learn much if they are starving, so basic humanitarian supplies are also required for this level of aid to be effective. All it requires is the will of the international community, and the communication to the masses of affluent societies that “LIVES DO MATTER”. And that refugees, displaced and the homeless are all a human resource that can be nurtured and cultivated with love and care. Talents and rich experiences are all there, but can be so easily wasted. By believing in the future of these struggling people, is how we make this world a better place.

Q11. Please tell about your experience on working with the less privileged people.

Q11a: This has been one of the most touching and satisfying aspects of our work. One example is: we rescued an HIV/AIDS family that were very desperate, poor and without hope. One of the young teenagers in the family was bed-ridden, with severe spinal problems, and she could not study or go to school. The Ganda Foundation paid for her immediate medical treatment and then her schooling, when she was able to study. She has now graduated, enthusiastic, healthy and desiring to work for our Foundation and its local activities. To see her now is to witness such a transformation, to see the power of the human spirit — if given half a chance.

Q12. What inspired you into charity/ humanitarian work?

Q12a: besides the answer to question 11 and those direct experiences that we have had, there is an underlying principle that comes when one feels connected to humanity. Reel the question back to an understandable level, like our own blood family: Can we really be happy if the people around us are not happy? No, that is very very difficult, and we therefore take responsibility for those that we love and care for. Now, when one feels grateful for all the good things that one has in life, then it is quite a natural step to want to reach out to those less fortunate and make a difference. What made Nelson Mandela so strong inside that he could lead his people to freedom? Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jnr., Mother Theresa! There is something inside that grows and grows. It’s hard to explain, but it happens. Call it “universal love-in-action”, when one feels connected to all of humanity, then true service happens naturally, without effort. It becomes a way of life. We hardly ever talk about this side of things, as there is always so much to do! And we just get on with it.

The Ganda Boys are: Denis Mugagga, Craig Pruess and Daniel Sewagudde Facebook: Ganda Boys The Ganda Foundation, a UK registered charity, was established in 2009 by the three founders, Denis, Craig and Daniel

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

One Comment


    Je trouve cet article excellent! L’auteur a visiblement recherché logiquement les données à sa
    disposition pour en restituer un contenu de grande qualité.

You must be logged in to post a comment.