Former ganja man remains addicted to Igwe
Posted Saturday, July 26 2014 at 01:00
George Timothy Lubega is one unique gospel artiste. He has managed to turn his life around —from being a street child— to an arguably successful gospel artiste, popular for hits such as Igwe and Ganja Man. He is as transformed as he is controversial though. Gloria Haguma sought him out.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born 29 years ago to an Acholi mother, the late Doreen Lamwaka and a half caste father, Mortage Matovu. Unfortunately, my mother died when I was 10. Then I went and stayed with my father for two years. Life was hard though, and I moved out of home and went to live on the streets.
What was the hardest thing you experienced while living on the streets?
Friend’s being stabbed almost everyday, police raids all the time to get rid of street thugs. People lost lives, property, and night times were very dangerous, and so police endeavoured to take us off the streets.
What turns you off on a woman?
Bad odour! I can’t stand a woman who doesn’t smell good. Sometime back, I had just come off stage and one fan came to greet but her breathe was terrible. But being a fan, I had to act okay.
Have you had any bad experiences with your fans, whether on or off stage?
I was at a show at UMA showgrounds and while on stage, one of the fans jumped on stage. She was dressed very skimpily and she was dancing. And then one of the tabloids captured that and said, “From a Ganja man, to a preacher man, back to a ganja man.” They actually said “Exodus entering from behind.” So it’s the way tabloids interpret certain things, which doesn’t bother me at all.
What is your son’s reaction when he sees his dad in the papers with such headlines, or even the images splashed on the pages?
I love my children to death, so I try as much as possible to give them quality time when I am with them. My children get to know daddy, not Exodus. Every time something like that happens, I find a way to explain to them, because I don’t want my children to grow up like I grew up. I want them to have proper parenthood, which I didn’t have. So I try as much as possible to be a loving big brother to my children. We discuss everything.
Apart from singing, what else do you do?
I am a philanthropist, and a social worker. I work with a charity organisation in the country, The Irene Gleeson Foundation that was started by my adoptive mother. We take care of ex-child soldiers.
If you were to be invisible for a day, what would you do?
I would get into a bank, and get all the money to help the less fortunate. [Laughs] That’s a joke.
How did you feel the first time you had your first song, Ganja Man, playing?
Mine was a bit unfortunate. It is amazing how music gets to places before the artiste. I had just left a bank where a friend had given me Shs5,000 when an open roof BMW stopped right in front of me, playing my song. I looked at the car and the owner, and the man looked really nice. Deep down I wished he knew that the owner of the track was standing right there.
What is it that you think women want?
As a married man who is also in love I will tell you from my experience, all a woman needs is love and care. All the other things are secondary. What they care about most are love and care. Men are different. They are very technical. You think of how to make that million, or work to get that.
How did you propose to your wife?
My wife is called Brenda Mwanje Lubega, It was on her birthday. We were at church, then I threw her a surprise party, and in the middle of that, I got on my knee. She was totally surprised, she actually broke into tears.
Do you ever get hit on by women?
Definitely. A lot, I must say. A gospel artiste, who is good looking, people think we are the nice guys. But I have learned to focus, on the reason why I am out there, and not what I can get out there.
Take us through your grooming routine?
Coming from a place where no one thought anything good would come out of me, when I found Christ, I found love. I found myself. I am the kind of man who loves good things; I keep up to date with fashion. I am in the salon once a fortnight, for my dreadlocks, and I do massages, because as a performer, you are always on stage, putting out energy, so I need a little pampering.
Many girls tend to think that church boys are up to no good. What would be your take on that, being a church boy yourself?
Christianity as a relationship seeks to do good in all aspects. Some acts are based on personality, and the kind of a person. That’s why the Bible says we have all fallen short of the glory and salvation is by the grace and not by works. This means you cannot judge Christianity by one man’s act. We are all not perfect, that is why we need Christ.
What kind of woman would you find intimidating?
I am not intimidated by women at all. Men who are intimidated, have a low self-esteem. They feel they are not good, or worthy.
What kind of relationship do you and Judith Heard have?
I am a gospel artiste, who is out in the commercial world. And since she is a model and a socialite, most people think I can’t be friends with her unless something is happening. So, to answer your question, Judith and I are friends.
So how do you handle all the cheating scandals, in the tabloids?
Every relevant person is always attacked. You become a target for criticism and attacks. And it is important not to dwell on that and stay focused. Honesty, I just laugh it off, because 99 per cent of what is written in tabloids are not true, it’s to sell the paper. These are business people, out to make money.