BY ALEX TAREMWA
Faith Hope Ghandi’s started her journey of integrating faith into music way back in her Primary One. When asked when this was, the artist is shy to reveal the following story behind her age:
While registering for her Primary Seven exams at Kamuge Primary School in Pallisa, she wasn’t sure how old she was. Her mother, an educationist, was far away at the time. So Ghandi approached her aunt who told her that she was born in 1989.
When Ghandi returned from school after the Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE), she asked her mother how old she was, only to learn that she was actually three years younger than she had been led to believe.
“Mummy told me that I was born in 1991 but since 1989 was already on my file, I couldn’t change it and that is one thing that has haunted me for most of my life,” she says as she strokes her dreadlocks.
Ghandi traces her music journey to a Primary One class activity she participated in when she was three years old at Good Sheperd Primary School, Ndeeba, Kampala. She was chosen to sing a famous children’s rhyme, Ani Anangulira cake. This launched her into the school choir, which she later led in a folk song that until recently enjoyed a long stint of airplay as soundtrack for a children’s programme on Uganda Broadcasting Television (UBC).
While at Great Aubrey Memorial College in Tororo, Ghandi stepped on stage and sang using a microphone, for the first time in a secondary schools Scripture Union singing competition. Despite being in Senior One, Ghandi was the choir leader for her school.
“When I sang, everyone, including those who had vacated the hall flocked back in while others filled the windows to look at me and I was wondering what mistake I had made? But I decided to continue and finish the song and my school went ahead to win the competition.”
Ghandi was thrilled by the support, and reality set in that she could actually sing well. When she returned to Kampala where she always spent her school holidays, she decided to hang around her church choir at Deliverance Church in Nsambya.
During A-level at Majansi High School, also in Tororo, Ghandi confesses to having given her sports side more priority than music. She played volleyball, basketball and netball. Her encounter with musical instruments would wait until Senior Six vacation during which she worked with a local humanitarian project in Kibaale District to raise money for her tuition fees.
She said that one day Jeff Dyck, her team leader, watched her sing during a fellowship meeting, he approached her and told her something that changed her life forever. “He said: ‘Hope, thank you. One day you’re going to sing and preach to the nations. I was excited about it and kept it at the bottom of my heart,’” she says in retrospect.
Ghandi was admitted to Uganda Christian University (UCU) to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication. While she was in Sabiiti Hall, her roommate, one Deborah Nagawa, a member of the Chapel Choir, persuaded her to join the choir.
In the choir, Ghandi preferred to be at the back because she felt that the other members were too good for her. Little did she know that the then Music Director, Dan Semperezza, could hear her voice.
Towards the end of the Advent Semester, Semperezza, chose her to lead one of the Christmas carols and it is at this stage that she made her musical mark.
“Oh Holy Night was too big a song and so I was shocked to be asked to lead it. He however trained me, and this song was my breakthrough,” she recalls.
Now Ghandi ministers through worship. She strives, depending on the song to encourage, inspire and touch as many hearts as possible.
Road to Europe
Ghandi joined Honours College in second year and became a residential assistant. In her hall resided one Daisy Muramuzi, a daughter to the former UCU Chancellor, Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi.
Mulamuzi was a good singer who further inspired Ghandi. The two would work on a number of songs together in the hall and through Daisy, Ghandi met Dorcus Kingsley, a daughter of Archbishop Orombi as well, with whom she developed a cordial relationship.
One sunny afternoon after she had graduated in 2013, Ghandi through Kingsley met Orombi, who later recommended her to a friend, a Vision for Africa choir leader whose team was about to embark on a tour of Europe.
“When I got the call and the person on the other side said: ‘Hope, this is Bishop Orombi, would you like to travel to Europe with the Vision for Africa choir for three months?’ I was speechless!” she narrates.
Ghandi politely accepted the offer as she hadn’t gotten a job and later in 2014, Vision Band went off to Europe. The group traversed Australia, Switzerland, and Germany.
Although she has encountered several challenges, Ghandi contends that she trusts in God’s ability to walk her through thick and thin. She has also sang with Unlimited Band, the Adante Band, Potters’ Clay and currently sings with the Hebron Band. Besides singing, Ghandi writes songs and makes African crafts products, which she sells at the All-in-One Gift shop in Kampala.
She said that being a needy student, she started the crafts business to raise tuition fees.
Asked about her favourite moment, Ghandi singles out her 2010 Christmas Carol performance in Nkoyoyo Hall, although she also remembers tripping and falling on stage in another performance.
“UCU was my biggest training ground and that is something I will always remember. So far my favourite and saddest moments have been in UCU. I may not have done everything perfectly, but I did them well,” she adds.
She advises students to be enterprising and to always trust God to take control of their lives. She acknowledges the role of her mentors, Professor Monica Chibita and Mrs Babirye Bagiine who she says played an integral role in shaping her morally, spiritually and academically.