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Biggie: The woman behind Chameleone’s ‘Gwanga Mujje’ concert

by Editorial Team
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By Ignatius Kamya

Music events promotion has been the one sector dominated by men, leaving many questions amongst feminists on whether it’s not a venture fellow women can tap into.

It was not that the women didn’t have the capital to get into the business, but rather the fear of dealing with artistes whom many people believe to be headaches after receiving whatever they want (usually money).

Jose Chameleone’s Gwanga Mujje concert proved women can as well organise successful music events as it has been considered one of the best Ugandan shows ever to be held at Lugogo Cricket Oval.

Earlier on February 10, strong winds destroyed the stage so the concert was pushed to February 24.

Mariam Mutakubwa aka Biggie is the woman of the moment in the arts industry, having been the brains behind Gwanga Mujje.

Seven months back, a few knew Biggie until this ‘brave’ woman took on the big mantle of organising the concert of one of Uganda’s most celebrated artistes – Chameleone.

Who is Biggie?

Biggie was born in Kamuli district to Hajji Badru Watongola and the late Kamuli Municipality MP Rehema Watongola.

While at campus, Biggie started an events company that specialised in organising functions, whereby a client would give her their budget and she does work that fits in it.

“I decided to join music events promotion out of passion, having organised small ceremonies like weddings, introductions, end-of-year parties and so on. I also used to watch lots of international music concerts online and there is something that I felt was lacking in ours to ensure we are elevated from writing about how great the artistes sang, but also the organisation of the event.

“I started getting involved in events music promotion in 2020 after graduating when Ivan Lukwago, David Lutalo’s then manager, engaged me to get sponsors for his show which was to be held at Hotel Africana in Kampala,” Biggie says.

She continues that it was after securing different sponsors and seeing the success of this show that her eyes were opened to how big she would get in organising a concert of her own rather than bringing sponsors for others.

In 2020, COVID-19 shuttered all her plans. However, the moment President Yoweri Museveni announced the lifting of the ban on musical shows, Biggie started to rethink the kind of artiste she could invest her money in and not get disappointed.

“David Lutalo was the first name on my list since we had worked with him before and he had great music. However, at that time, I was in Turkey and my father told me another promoter had already secured Lutalo and so I had to get back to the drawing board,” says Biggie.

When she came back around July 2022, King Michael, who is her great friend, told her about organising Chameleone’s show, an idea she welcomed.

Biggie asked Michael to go for a dinner with her alongside Chameleone and see whether the meeting could yield something. It never took long for her see that this was going to be a mega project.

Biggie says she made a quick decision for a number of reasons; one because Chameleone was going to America in two weeks’ time and that she never wanted to miss out on another great opportunity, but also Chameleone was great at getting the deal done.

On working with Chameleone

“He is not as difficult as people say. I have much respect for him. There are instances when I wanted him to do one thing and he did something else, but as someone responsible, he made sure he notified me that he would meet me and we do what I wanted for the best of the show unlike some other artistes who would just go on and do what they want without even keeping you up to speed on when they are to complete it and when they are to meet you. For this, I credit Joseph.

“People talked a lot about Chameleone after the unfortunate incident when the stage collapsed, but I was always on my knees praying that God blesses February 24, something he did so Joseph and I were very much overwhelmed seeing the numbers and getting the show done,” Biggie said.

Disrespect amongst fellow promoters nags her

“I have had a fair working experience so far in this industry because men are easy to work with as they rarely get into beef. I came with a fresh mind, which I think many liked and so some embraced me and I appreciate them for that apart from one who tried soliciting money from the vendors who were to come for Gwanga Mujje concert after it was cancelled. It still hurts me.

“The disrespect amongst Ugandan music events promoters is the other challenge I have found and it nags me. The way they insult each other in the media makes me fear the kind of insults my family would have to bear with in case I ever get into a confrontation with anyone.

Chameleone and ‘Biggie’ Mariam Mutakubwa

“However, I am thankful to all those who were there for me in the tough period when the stage collapsed, I got strength from many of them that sent me encouraging messages and even some went ahead and helped me ensure February 24 becomes a success.”

Biggie added that she is “not going to be Chameleone’s promoter, but rather an events promoter.”

She urged people to watch out for her on her social media handles, saying in less than a month, she “could be unleashing some other news of another bigger concert.”

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