Ugandan-born singer Daniel Okiror is one of the best Afro Fusion artistes on this side of the Sahara.
Okiror – a tall man, agile on his feet –, is a multi instrumental, multilingual, artiste popular for the songs: Edeke Ka, Emuria Kolia, Epol among others.
Okiror sat down with eDaily and divulged classified details of his little-known life.
The singer – who today boasts of having globe-trotted nearly every continent – says his rise to stardom was not a consequence of bagatelle input; but effort, prayers and determination to succeed.
“I was born in the village – somewhere in Achanipi in Teso, eastern Uganda. However, I grew between the village, slums and the city. I consider myself a miracle baby. My mother died when I was three months old. I did not know where my father was living; until six years later when I heard that he had died. That influenced the way I grew up and thought about life,” begins Okiror.
“After the death of my mother, my grandmother took me in. Sadly, she also passed on a few years later. I moved to a slum called Nakatunya in Soroti town where my uncle lived. I finished my O-Levels and moved to Kampala for my A-Levels and later to Makerere University, where I pursued a bachelor’s degree in social sciences. I also have a Master’s degree in project planning and management from the same university,” he says.
But who sponsored his education, considering he hailed from a lowly background?
“My uncle partially funded my early education. Later, universal primary education programme took over. My sister financed my O-Levels education. I later won a scholarship for my A-Levels from a leadership programme. From there, my life changed,” he adds.
“Growing up in the village was difficult! There were perennial water problems. We bathed once in a while as it was a preserve for those who had energy to fetch water from the streams several miles away. Jiggers were also a common phenomenon.
Okiror did his first song when he was three; his composition, inspired by his childhood struggles.
“I was complaining about my problems through music; I did not know it would become my career. Music is like a spirit. When I begin to play music, I am no longer myself. The struggle during my childhood gave me the emotions that I can incorporate in my music today. I learnt how to play akogo by myself when I when I went grazing.”
On being married to a woman of European descent, Okiror said: “A lady should be a lady. There is something that a man needs. When you give him what he needs, he will give you the best of him.
“According to my culture, I can marry as many women as I would wish. My grandfather had 12 wives. I am married to a Dutch woman. It is not the most important thing that a woman kneels before you (like women from Uganda do). It is important to find a woman whom you feel you are comfortable with and you are confident that she would support you in whatever you are doing.
Okiror, a father of one, refutes claims that women of European descent could be superior to African women.
“A woman is a woman – regardless of the skin pigmentation. But again, there are different aspects of culture; women from different parts of the world would behave differently. African people should be proud of their pigmentation. If media won’t play Daniel Okiror music because I am black, I will play it in my house, in the beach, on the road – until somebody gets to know that my music is good.”
Okiror – who admires Fela Kuti and Kenya’s Suzanna Owiyo – says he produced his favourite hit single Edeke Ka (My God) after overcoming several life challenges.
“I have been able to live to see this day because of God. In the past, I ran away from bullets several times, I suffered malnutrition, my neighbours performed witchcraft on me; they managed to make me go mad – temporarily – but I did not die.
“They wanted to kill me after requesting for so much; that I could not give. I had become successful in my music, I was touring the world and I looked moneyed! Some friends and neighbours became jealous of my success. They bewitched me seven times, but they did not succeed.”