What you need to know:
- The dance group bagged themselves the “Golden Buzzer” after they put up an electrified and spirited performance at this year’s Britain’s Got Talent television reality show.
Uganda’s Ghetto Kids are basking in the glow of their powerful magical debut creative modern dance audition at this year’s Britain’s Got Talent television reality show.
Ghetto Kids, who are one of Africa’s famous dance groups, bagged themselves the “Golden Buzzer” after they put up an electrified and spirited performance that left all the judges in total admiration and got a standing ovation from the audience.
Appearing at Britain’s Got Talent 2023 (BGT Season 16) auditions on April 15, in London, the Ghetto Kids showcased their energetic and well-choreographed dance performance that got the new judge Bruno Tonioli, 67, hitting the Golden Buzzer button mid-performance.
The young troupe, including Priscila Zawedde Kisakye, 12; Asharif Mbazira, 12; Akram Muyanya, 13; Shakib Mutima, 12; and Madwanah Ssegirinya, aka King, 13, used just under nine minutes to showcase their thrilling dance moves.
Muyanja wowed the judges with his comic stroke of the famous Micheal Jackson crotch-grabbing dance routine. Muyanja later removed his shirt while dancing, much to the amazement of the judges.
The highlight of the thrilling performance was when five-year-old Josephine Daniella Busingye, who was carrying a doll made of banana fibre on her back, joined the rest of the troupe. She then pulled off dance strokes of her own.
Their dance performance was accompanied by three songs. The first was the group’s song Favourite Dance. They followed it up with Waka Waka (This Time for Africa), the official 2010 Fifa World Cup song by Colombian multi-talented singer Shakira. The third song was Mi Gente by J. Balvin and Willy William.
Even a Golden Buzzer—which Tonioli pushed midway through their stage performance—did not stop the energetic children from dancing as the golden confetti poured down in torrents.
“We cared about the Golden Buzzer but we had to continue with our performance which had just begun,” Kisakye told the Monitor, adding, “We celebrated after our performance. We felt so happy and excited. That was the best moment for us, the Ghetto Kids.”
The Ghetto Kids made a record in the history of the reality show as the first group to earn the coveted Golden Buzzer mid-performance.
The other judges were Simon Cowell, 63; Amanda Holden, 52; and Alesha Dixon, 44.
“That’s never actually happened. Normally, the Golden Buzzer is pressed afterwards. He (Bruno) gave you the Golden Buzzer and you performed in the confetti. It was wonderful,” Cowell said.
Tonioli, who is an Italian choreographer, said he “was literally exploding.” The 67-year-old judge later went backstage to see the kids and told them they should be in Hollywood.
While Holden said the Ghetto Kids dropped an “audition to remember”, Dixon described the young troupe as “absolute superstars.”
Toasting to success
Formerly Triplets Ghetto Kids, the Ghetto Kids is a dance/music group founded in 2014 by Dauda Kavuma. It comprises 30 homeless children, some of whom are orphans. They live in an orphanage in the Kampala suburb of Makindye.
Kavuma, 36, would not hide his excitement at the sidelines of the stage following Tonioli’s Golden Buzzer moment. He said: “It’s all about making their lives better. My dream is to build a very big home and help as many children as I can.”
He later told the Monitor that they “felt so good for winning a Golden Buzzer.” They did not, he added, “see it coming.”
The video of the group’s superb performance has gone viral on social media, including Twitter and YouTube. By April 27, the video had attracted over 6.1 million views on YouTube.
“We hosted them recently on [the] Pablo and Kids Show ... One of their biggest dreams was to be on Britain’s Got Talent,” Kenneth Kimuli, aka Pablo, told the Monitor, adding, “Not only did their dream come true, but they got a golden buzzer midway their act, something that has never happened in the history of Britain’s Got Talent. They are the Ghetto Kids from Uganda. Let’s toast to them.”
Road to London
When asked how the group got into the 2023 Britain’s Got Talent (BGT) competition, Kavuma replied: “Like any other participant, we applied and the organisers asked us for our videos. That is how we went through.”
According to Kavuma, the group rehearsed for the Britain’s Got Talent show, and the choreography was by the kids themselves.
As to the style of dance they perform, Kavuma told the Monitor that their genre is called “Afri-comic dance.”
“This,” he offered, “is a dance that connects the audience with us. The people feel they can dance with us, and it is full of entertainment.”
The 30 children who keep the supply line for Ghetto Kids active live in one big house. Kavuma adds they are “one big family” that in some shape or manner previously experienced “living on the streets of Kampala.”
Ssegirinya lauds Ghetto Kids for giving “me a lot of opportunities.” Kavuma, he adds, is called dad by all the children in spite of him not being “our real father.”
Kavuma says: “Ghetto Kids is all about making their (children) lives better through paying their school fees, feeding, and hospital bills. All the basic needs that a child wants.”
Asked what he will use the cash prize for if the children are the overall winners, Kavuma replied: “We already have a project plan for our big home in Busiro County. I think because the children are still going to school, the cash prize may not be enough, but we shall see if we are the overall winners. We believe the home will also benefit the surrounding community.”
The Ghetto Kids emerged on the local entertainment scene when they collaborated with the Ugandan Afro-pop star Edrisah Musuuza, aka Eddy Kenzo, on a video for his hit song Sitya Loss in 2014. Sitya Loss went viral, and has accumulated more than 51.4 million views on YouTube and other social networks. This was a turning point in the fortunes of the Ghetto Kids, which exposed them to the rest of the world.
They also collaborated with Eddy Kenzo on his music video Jambole in 2015, which has attracted more than 9.3 million views on YouTube.
Shooting to stardom
The ensemble has been admired by American artists Nicki Minaj and P. Diddy. Ghetto Kids collaborated with French Montana on his music video Unforgettable in 2017, which launched the group’s success in the United States. Featuring Swae Lee, the Unforgettable video has had 1.5 billion views on YouTube.
They also performed in Chris Brown’s music video Back To Love in 2019.
The Ghetto Kids have performed in the UK, USA, Qatar, France, Oman, Australia, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan, among others.
A March 26 Monitor report indicates that the real origin of the story of the Ghetto Kids can be traced to about 30 years ago in Gombe, Butambala, Central Uganda.
Kavuma is one of 30 children fathered by his late dad from six mothers in Gombe.
Because of his father’s death, Kavuma was fast on the streets to fend for himself at such a tender age. He pursued his primary and O-Level education before undergoing teacher training at Kibuli Primary Teachers College (PTC) on scholarships riding on his football talent.
Asked how his past experience of living on the streets influences his running of the orphanage, Kavuma replied: “It is like the children have the belief that if I made it, they can make it. After winning the Golden Buzzer, the people are viewing us differently. There is too much love for us in Uganda, Africa, and the world at large. They can see that the Ghetto Kids are respected and are now being used as an example in the community. We gave hope to the children on the streets and ghetto that everything is possible.”
As to how he funds the orphanage, Kavuma, said, “Most of our funding comes from our YouTube channel, promo dance videos we do for different musicians, donations from well-wishers and friends. We also perform at concerts.”
Britain’s Got Talent (BGT) unplugged
British Got Talent (BGT) is part of the global Got Talent franchise created by Simon Cowell. Every year, contestants of any age can audition for the televised contest with whatever talent they wish to demonstrate. During auditions, participants seek to impress a panel of judges in order to secure a place in the live rounds of the contest.
Once in the live rounds, participants seek to impress the public and judges to secure votes, in order to reach the final and a chance to win a cash prize and a place within that year’s performances for the Royal Variety Performance before members of the British Royal Family. As of 2022, the show has had 15 winners, ranging from musicians and singers to variety acts, magicians, dancers and comedians.
A BGT winner takes home the title along with a cash prize of £250,000 (Shs1.2b) and a coveted spot at the Royal Variety Performance.