Azawi recalls tough times as food vendor, suffering racism in China

Swangz Avenue top artist Azawi’s path to stardom was a rough one. Raised for the most part by a single mother, hopping from one school to another for lack of fees, the now 27-year-old looks back in awe at how far she’s come.

Azawi

Azawi, owes much of her success in music to a dear friend Fred Kizza, who spotted her as a young talented traditional troupe dancer and helped secure her scholarships that got her through secondary education.

The singer, real name Priscilla Zawedde, lost her father Samuel Walusimbi in 2012, when she’d just joined Senior 4.

Before his passing, her family was straining financially to the point where her parents separated leaving her mother, Mary Nakamatte to care for her and two other siblings.

With no real income stream, Azawi says she had to jump from school to school to compete her secondary education.

Some of the secondary schools she went to include St. Henry’s College in Ggangu, Lubiri Secondary School, London College Nansana, St. Janani Luwum SS, and Kasubi SS.

To make ends meet, Azawi’s mother opened up a restaurant at their home in Nakulabye, where she helped her with cooking and moving the food to customers in the neighborhood.

She did this work even as a university student at Makerere.

This experience she says got to interact with a lot of Jua Kali men, mostly mechanics, some of whom are still her friends up to now.

“I used to secretly give them food on credit without my mother’s knowledge and they would pay me later with interest,” Azawi said in an interview with Ruth Kalibala.

Many of them are still mechanics and when I go there with my car, they help me out because I used to give them food in credit.

After completing Senior 4, where she got 32 aggregate, she tried to join A level at St. Janani but ended up failing to raise the fees.

So she skipped senior five and went straight to senior six. At the end of the 1st term in S6, at Kasubi SS, her friend Kizza got ger 3-month gig in China.

She was to work as a troupe dancer in Chinese amusement parks.

Azawi says she spoke to the school administration and they allowed her to go, for as long as she was to pay fully for the second term.

She came back in September to resume with 3rd term.

Impressively, she says, she successfully sat the A-level exams and got 14 points.

In the S6 vacation, Azawi says she was enticed to go back to China.

Although they were paying her well, she says, she did not like life in the East Asian country, mostly due to racism.

I could have gone back later during campus, but I didn't like the place because of their food and because there was a lot of racism,” she said.

A Chinese person could come and touch your skin… we were like tourism attractions; it was like they had never seen a black person before. I did not like it at all.”

Azawi was later on to join Makerere University where she earned a bachelor's degree in Commerce before concentrating on songwriting, from where she was picked by Swangz.

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