Prossy Kankunda: Ankole’s queen of vocals with heavy Buganda influence

If you were around in the early 2000s, the name Prossy Kakunda is unmistakable. The songstress epitomised talent and success during her prime as a breakout member of Kaads Band.

Singer Prossy Kankunda

Her songs ‘Ngabwa’ and ‘Akalulu’ which she wrote for the first Kaads Band album were massive successes both in Central Uganda and back home in the west, catapulting her to national and regional limelight.

Born on June 9th 1975, Kankunda is celebrating 49 years of age this weekend.

She is the firstborn of four, born in a middle-class family hailing from Bushenyi in what is now Buhweju district.

Her late father Francis Bantariza was a businessman who also served as a Member of Parliament for the (then) Buhweju constituency.

Her mother left her when she was a toddler to go back for further studies, and she was sent to live with her grandmother in Bweranyangi.

She was later brought to Mengo in Kampala to start school.

She went to Aga Khan for nursery and primary school, and later to Nakasero Primary School where she completed her Primary education in 1988.

From here, she went to Kings College Buddo for O’Level and Kololo SS for A’ Level before pursuing an MDD course at Makerere.

Despite spending her life in Buganda, Kankunda did not become detached from her ancestral roots.

Every holiday, I demanded to go to my grandmother in Bweranyangi and that was how I learnt all the Kinyankore culture, the language and practices,” she told Barbra Nyamwiza in an interview.

Kankunda traces her music journey from when she was still in lower primary school where she was often picked as the lead for her school choir. She also constantly excelled in dancing, which she says “came naturally.”

In P7, she received a certificate from a national music competition for her Kiganda traditional dance. By S4 she had 16 such certificates to her name.

In her senior four holiday, she applied to join Bakayimbira Drama Actors at Pride Theatre, where she was warmly welcomed. She was picked her for a drama audition, but Micheal Kakande, one of the bosses decided to take her into the band.

In A’ level, she joined the New Generation Africa Band and started landing gigs and catching media attention.

At Makerere University, opportunities increased as she landed more gigs as a backup singer for legendary artists including Elly Wamala and Jimmy Katumba.

Around that time, Kankunda started seeing celebrated artist Fred Maiso of ‘Emuli Kya Roza’ fame. The two had a son together while she was in her final year at Makerere.

Maiso sadly passed away in 2012.

One evening in 2000, Kakunda remembers stumbling onto Kaads band performing. While in attendance she was spotted by one of the singers who knew her. She was then called to the stage to perform one song. Her rendition was so mesmerising that the band founder William Kamukama and his wife came to her seat and asked her to join the band.

Upon joining, she was selected among the few members to travel to Dubai for a tour.

As the band gained fame, she and other members including John Kahwa, Akiiki Romeo and Titie Tabel were tasked to compose new songs for the band’s first album.

She submitted two songs Akalulu and Ngabwa, which had been inspired by her grandmother’s teachings about the girl child.

Both songs became instant hits, in Central and Western Uganda.

Suddenly I was being interviewed in the media, my songs dominated radio countdowns, and now my parents who were opposed to my music journey were very proud,” she says.

The songs lived on for years and scooped nominations in major local and international awards.

Unfortunately, Kaads band disintegrated in 2006, forcing Kankunda to venture into other fields.

Currently, she runs her own dance group called Prossy Kankunda Cultural Dancers in Bushenyi. She also teaches music in schools and farms.

She had four more children with former footballer Raoul Lukusa Kayembe, a Congolese national who is assistant coach of Vipers FC.

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