By Florentina Twongyere
Siima Sabiti Kyakuhaire describes herself as a radio presenter, music addict, flute blower, work in progress, occasional writer and attributes all views expressed belonging to her and the little people living in her head.
Siima who is currently a judge for Coca-Cola Rated Next show, Presenter and Station manager at 94.8 X-Fm, is also a flautist with beauty, intellect and voice that has fans hooked to the morning show, which she co-hosts with Rudende and Libolo. Although she was born in Swaziland, she has lived in Switzerland, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Malawi, and Nigeria. studying in different schools until the 10 years in England. I had the pleasure of asking the charismatic, unafraid to speak her mind lady who beams with exuberance to share her thoughts with me.
what started your journey into radio?
Working on radio was a no brainer. I love talking and I love music so the path to radio seemed natural.
How do you deal with the invasion of privacy that comes with being in the public?
I have had to strike a balance because I am a private person and yet my work puts me in the public eye. I feel that people knowing whether I have a boyfriend or what his name is, has no impact on my ability to put on a good show. I usually respond to tweets, however there will always be people that just don’t have boundaries that I have had to learn to deal with. I prefer to keep my personal and professional life separate exceptions of hanging out with my co-hosts (she laughs fondly).
What it is like being a judge on Coca Cola Rated Next?
Being a judge on Rated Next is really good fun and a wonderful opportunity. You get to meet and associate with people of different talents and walks. There are good and funny moments during the auditions and every now and then you will find a gem. It is an amazing experience to watch contestants journeys from their first timid auditions to powerful performers with the band behind them. It is an experience like no other.
On family and love
I am very close with my family and they are an essential part of my life. I talk to my sisters and brother everyday and enjoy a friendship with my mother. Although my father is no longer with us, the way I am and carry myself are attributed to the things he taught me. He gave me the opportunity to experience. He taught me that as long as I was going to do something, I should do it well.
Love is a cliché but I truly believe that a relationship should have friendship as a foundation. You should be in love but still also be able to sit, talk and argue. If you are properly invested as friends then you work at making your relationship work.
On embracing her natural hair
I have hard hair but a super sensitive scalp and after years of agony of dealing with chemical treatments in my hair, I decided that it was enough, so I cut my hair and went all natural. I love where I am with my hair and use Sunday as my hair day. I usually like to keep my hair in protective styles as the 4am wakeup call disposition of my job doesn’t allow me the luxury of styling it daily. I think more and more women are embracing the natural look and the men too are warming up to it.
What is your definition of an African woman?
An African woman is a titan, a reliable, tireless super woman who is a rock and can make something out of nothing. The African woman is a beautiful queen who makes her man feel like a king all the while holding down the kids and teaching them good values. As a child, our family moved around a lot because of the nature of my father’s job and every time there was a move I remember my mother being able to make a home no matter what country we settled in. My mother is my definition of an African woman.
On playing the flute
It is indispensable that for all things that are important you are able to carve out time for them. When it comes to playing, no matter how busy I am I will practice the flute everyday even if it is just warm up exercises. Several people have said to me that they can now see that it is possible for their daughters to play an instrument while pursuing other interests because of my inspiration. Unfortunately there is a negative perception of musicians that is perpetuated by the behavior of the select few which makes parent worry that their children will be on stage gyrating and half naked. If only we could promote a different image, particularly of female musician. Having said that, I still believe that there is room for the Ugandan music industry to continuously grow.
On women being pressured to marry and become mothers
Fortunately And thankfully so, I don’t feel the pressure to get married from my family. The number of people that are pressured into marriage and split just months afterwards is frightening and a lesson for all. Like I said earlier, the friendship element is important to me, the question is, can to I be stuck in a box with this person forever and find something to talk about and still laugh or am I am marrying this person because of who their family is or am I thinking my biological clock is ticking. I have seen many people who are miserable because they succumbed to that pressure. I think I would rather be happy alone that miserable with somebody. I don’t believe you can be a good person in a relationship if you are not complete already. My parents were married for a long time and when I looked at them I said to myself ‘I want that’. It is unfortunate that women are the only ones who feel the pressure but I believe no woman should make that commitment until they are good and ready.
What do you do to unwind, what is your secret superpower and dream vacation?
My relaxation moments comprise of reading, (I am a big fan of Toni Morrison and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), listening to music (so much so that I have a playlist for everything from ShowerMix to KitchenMix to SleepMix). My secret power is my ability to whip up a good meal at a moment’s notice. My perfect destination places are those entrenched in history like Venice, China, Italy, Paris. Going to a jazz café in New Orleans or watching authentic Texan cowboy lasso a bull would be a wonderful experience. Back home in Uganda I would love to go to see Sipi falls and stay at Mweya Safari Lodge and Para Lodge.
What people inspire you?
I am inspired by people who define the norms; Toni Morrison (writer of Beloved and The Bluest eye), Mozart (composer), Freddie Mercury (lead vocalist of Queen), Nina Simone, Etta James, Stevie Wonder, Miria Matembe, Pink, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Jennifer Musisi and of course my family.I would also love to meet Stephen Fry (British comedian), William Shatner, Kofi Anan and Michelle Obama.
Favorite quote? “The greatest thing you will ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”