Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Maurice Kirya & the growth of Social Media success in Uganda

One of the most wonderful ‘benefits’ of living and working in Uganda today as a blogger and journalist is the chance to see success in the making. Uganda, as a concept, as a geographical entity, is quite young (in country years), only 49 years old, our notions on what constitute various things like success-even younger. There is no template for being successful and to watch the unconventional paths to success each person living their story to become a nationally recognised figure makes, like Maurice Kirya is becoming, is fascinating. 
Maurice Kirya is a self appointed Uganda music ambassador
Maurice Kirya’s path to success has not been the path, for example, Jose Chameleone used. Or Juliana Kanyomozi. Or Eddie Kenzo. All musicians who have a song that is played from Club Hi-fi to humble battery operated transistor all over Uganda. All their stories are wondrous, when you sit down and hear them tell how they have got to where they are. But their stories couldn’t be more ‘thrilling’ in their remarkableness than Kirya’s who started out ten years ago and is only reaping the fruits of his tenacity, hard work, luck some, but mostly forethought. 

Less than any of these other musicians, Kirya has relied on creating his fan base. I should know. I have watched him do it. From the years when former Daily Monitor journalist Moses Serugo first asked me if I had ever heard a song titled Stop to when by pure accident I happened to be at Steak Out, and Maurice came on stage to sing that very son-a difference of several months in between, when I had entirely forgotten about him and Serugo’s recommendation. Had stayed at Steak Out on Lumumba Avenue as long as I did mostly because I could not go home, was waiting for a debtor to come pay up and it was beginning to look, from the blinking time on my Siemens, he may not come, and I was wondering how I was going to walk out of here, down the dark avenue until the cheering lights of YMCA lit the way. 

Ugandan journalists should not be quoting from Barrack Obama’s use of the “new” social media to fund his 2008 USA Presidential Bid because right here in Uganda we have a singing example of a musician who has done the same to clamber his way into the limelight stage. I would go so far as to argue that were it not for the connecting social media of e-mail, MySpace (member since 10/18/2006) , Facebook (forced to open several fanpages as he exceeded the 5000 friend requests limit), YouTube (joined14 July 2009 and has over 77,000 video views) and  Twitter (where he is about to hit the 3,000 followers mark, very high for a Ugandan on twitter), Kirya would not be as well known a musician as he is today. Visit all those media and you will find his strong presence n them, right from their get go and how they have been responsible, at vital times in his career, to connecting him to persons who had gifts of support to avail and he was at the right time a click away. 
Maurice Kirya signs autographs for fans

Perhaps the biggest indicator of how much Kirya has successfully navigated online media to help his career is in how he won the most prestigious music award in his career so far-the 2010 RFI award. Kirya won that award purely relying on campaigning for his supporters to take 5 minutes, log onto the internet and click a vote for him. This is all the more impressive when you consider the field of contenders he had to overcome in that 2010 field and the fact that statistics put active Ugandan internet usage at not more than 500,000 people from a population of over 30 million. 

This is why the Maurice Kirya success story is far from fully told. The voters in the 2010 RFI award couldn’t all have been Ugandans. In looking to broaden his online experience, Kirya has ended up in the gradual process of being an international musician whose nationality happens to be Ugandan. The Maurice Kirya fans who clicked and voted in that 2010 RFI award were from all over the world, first hearing Kirya songs from his MySpace, his YouTube channel, and lately his self deprecating video messages to his fans and the curious. 

But there is no substitute for success in the “real” world. This is why you will still find Maurice Kirya going on tour. Speaking of which, again, surprising us, or maybe not, his tour dates are not where Ugandan musicians often aspire to go...

?18.10. Pointe Noire CONGO
22.10. Kinshasa DRC
25.10. Bujumbura BURUNDI
27.10. Kigali RWANDA
2.11. Khartoum SUDAN
5.11 Mbabane SWAZILAND
9.11. Addis Ababa ETHIOPIA
11.11. Flight to Entebbe
18.11. Kampala Uganda

1 comment:

kitacheri said...

Wow, I am impressed by Kirya. I love his music for it is not 'kidandali' neither is it 'kadongokamu' yet I can still feel the 'ugandaness' in it. yes, the music is unique and oh, I love all the beats of all the songs, so original.