Ssuuna Ben beat all odds to become a celebrated deejay

Having lost his father in 1993, he had to rely on his mother to provide everything including paying school fees but things didn’t come as easy as they seem to be.

More than 29 years later, Ssuuna Ben is proud to have beaten all odds to become a DJ; job he says makes him proud.

“The death of my dad saw one of the family friends take me up and helped pay my school fees. However, in 1997, he developed a misunderstanding with mum and this meant he stopped paying for my fees and mum had to take it up,” Ssuuna says.

He had enrolled at a vocational training school in his home town of Masaka to study vehicle mechanics but dropped out after two years since the mother had no money for pay for school fees.

“As I sat home, a man called Abedi asked mum to allow me join him to sell music tapes in Masaka town. He gave me startup capital to buy a few music tapes. We could put a loud speaker and play songs. A passerby who got interested in the song would come and buy. I did this for three years but inside me, I always wanted to return to school,” he says.

According to Ssuuna, he performed so well in his new business that his boss and customers loved him for being sharp but his heart lay somewhere else.

“One day I heard of a cultural troupe called Drum Beat that helped talented children in music to go to school. Though I was not talented, I loved it. I told mum about it and later she talked to the owner, Paddy Kibi.”

He says he was taken to the school where he was asked what his talent was in terms of music.

“I told him I didn’t have any talent but I was ready to learn everything. I was allowed to join on condition that I first learn and then I would be enrolled in school and my fees paid. I welcomed this idea.”

Ssuuna says in a few months, he had learnt how to play a number of musical instruments but also so many local dances including Kiganda, Bwola, Entogolo and Kizino among others.

He would juggle learning and selling of tapes.

“One day, Mr. Kibi said I had performed well and took me to Masaka Exodus Vocational Secondary School and I resumed studies.”

Ssuuna would later study and complete senior six.

Becomes DJ

Ssuuna says while still selling music tapes, he got to know many people in the music and entertainment industry in Masaka who would later shape his career as a deejay.

“These interested me in loving music. It is then that I fell in love with playing music as a deejay. One DJ named Byaru would play so well that I came to fall in love with everything he did. I became determined to learn how to play music just like DJ Byaru did,” Ssuuna narrates.

He says that later his dream came true as he learnt how to play music and it was not long before he mastered the art.

“Slowly by slowly I learnt how to play music as a deejay. Because I loved what I was doing, it didn’t take me long to master it. Before I knew, I would be hired to play at weddings and introductions in the villages.”

Ssuuna would later be hired by several radio stations in Masaka, first at Radio Equator and later Radio Buddu. Then stations in Kampala took note of his talent.

“In 2017, Bukedde FM in Kampala sought my services as a DJ. This was an honour for me to move from the village in Masaka to be playing for a city radio. This was a new life that I was living in Kampala,” he says.

According to Ssuuna, it was not easy winning over hearts in Kampala as a DJ who was used to playing in what was being termed as the village but he never gave up.

“At first, my fellow employees at Bukedde FM didn’t like what I was doing. They referred to the music that I played as one for villagers. I never listened to them but focused on my job and it was not long before they appreciated what I do,” he says.

Ssuuna has now cemented his place in the hearts of the people as a deejay.

He would even start organizing concerts, not for musicians, but as a deejay to play for the public and these attracted mammoth crowds to the surprise of many who didn’t believe in him.

“I don’t regret becoming a DJ. Whereas I am paid well at radio where I work, I get more money from playing out during functions and concerts. I have been able to buy a piece of land for mum. She is very happy with what I have turned out to be,” Ssuuna says.

“Being a DJ has become a turning point in my life. I thank God for I am now a household name in Uganda’s music industry.”

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