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Who is GNL Zamba?

GNL Zamba is an influential and prominent hip hop musician in Uganda.

Zamba is credited with introducing rap and Lugaflow music genre to mainstream radio and other media platforms in Uganda. Apart from music, GNL Zamba is also an ambassador for Ugandan brands and social initiatives, actor and filmmaker.

 

Early Life and Education

Ernest Nsimbi and commonly known as GNL Zamba was born on 22 January 1986 in Mukono district to a technical electrical engineer and civil servant, but he normally celebrates his birthday on 29th for weird reasons.

He was born in a family of four children, three sisters and him as the only boy child.

Zamba celebrates his birthday on 29 January because his parents, dad and mum disagree on the day he was born and the hospital documents also indicate a different date.

His father insists that he was born on the 29 January 1986 because of the events he says he can’t forget transpiring as Zamba was born.

But his mother says Zamba was born on 22 January since she is the one who delivered him, and it was a Friday (the calendar indicates 22nd was a Wednesday- Writer) and then his hospital records indicate 25th. Consequently, that is why Zamba celebrates his birthday for a week.

However, his family lived in Kawempe slum following the Ugandan civil war at a time of continuing instability and poverty in Uganda. These challenges shaped Zamba into a storyteller who drew inspiration from the struggle of his youth.

Besides learning from the challenges, he was first encouraged by his grandmother towards music because she was a leader in a church choir.

GNL Zamba went through the transitions of education where he attended five schools in A’ Level alone offering PEM/Art; he served as the head writers of the Kiira Mirror, a member of the debates club team and chairman for the junior literature club.

He joined Makerere University where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Management.

For three years, GNL Zamba with Buzz Teeniez worked together as they toured Ugandan schools offering youths mentorship, encouraging social unity and staying in school.

 

Music career

After graduating with honours from Makerere University with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Management in 2007, he resorted to his professional music career.

GNL Zamba is an urban Ugandan hip hop artist commonly called Lugaflow. Lugaflow is Luganda, an indigenous language in Uganda’s central region which means rap.

As of the 2000s, this kind of music has inspired a new generation of Ugandan rappers to create popular music in their native language.

To meet the desires of all his fans, Zamba writes his lyrics in both Luganda and English. In 2005 and 2008, GNL auditioned for HIP-HOP CANVAS which was organized by Platinum Entertainment’s Shadrack Kuteesa.

Zamba stood out in these multilingual projects by engaging audiences with locally relevant stories in Luganda and the lyrics strongly addressed Ugandan social issues.

He was in 2005 first recorded as part of the award-winning song ‘MotherAfrica’ which was released by Hip Hop Canvas.

In 2009, GNL Zamba released his first mainstream album called Koyi Koyi and it was applauded for bridging the gap between traditional and contemporary sound. He has also toured around Europe, Africa, and North America performing at various festivals and conventions.

GNL is credited for inspiring the president of Uganda, Yoweri Tibuhabura Kaguta Museveni to release his first single titled ‘You Want Another Rap.’

GNL Zamba was originally signed under Platinum Entertainment and formed his own company Baboon Forest Entertainment in 2008. Because of his success in the music career, he opened up a sports bar and bought land in Uganda.

 

Awards

2019 256 hip-hop Awards – African rapper of the year

2014 The Arts Award – Twaweza Best Social Impact through arts

2013 Uganda Buzz Music Awards – Best Group

2013 Club Music Video Awards – Video of the year

2013 Club Music Video Awards – Best Male Video of the year

2013 Kadanke Awards – Best Group

2013 Kadanke Awards – Brest Hip Hop Single

2012 Uganda Buzz Music Awards – Best Male artist

2011 Uganda Buzz Music Awards – Hottest group (Baboon Forest)

2011 International Education Conference – People’s choice Digital media

2011 Pearl of Africa Music Awards – Best Hip Hop single

2010 Pearl of Africa Music Awards – Best Hip Hop single

2010 Uganda Buzz Music Awards – Best Hood rapper

2009 Pearl of Africa Music Awards – Best Hip Hop single

2009 Press Association Awards – Artist of the year

2005 Pearl of Africa Music Awards – Best Hip Hop single

 

Nominations

2014 Zina Awards – Best Hip Hop single

2014 HiPiPo Music Awards – Best Hip Hop Artist

2014 Rising Star Awards – Best Hip Hop artist

2013 Kadanke Awards – Best Male artist

2013 Kadanke Awards – Best Hip Hop single

2012 Uganda Buzz Music Awards – Best Hip Hop single

2012 Kadanke Awards – Artist of the year

2011 Pearl of Africa Music Awards – Best Hip Hop single

2011 Pearl of Africa Music Awards – Best Male artist

2011 Uganda Buzz Music Awards – Artist of the year

2010 Uganda Buzz Music Awards – Artist of the year

2010 Uganda Buzz Music Awards – Best Male artist

2010 Pearl of Africa Music Awards – Best Group

2010 Pearl of Africa Music Awards – Best Hip Hop single

2010 Uganda Buzz Music Awards – Song of the year

2010 Kisima Awards, Kenya – Best Hip Hop Artist & Single

2009 Pearl of Africa Music Awards – Best single

2009 Uganda Buzz Music Awards – Best Male artist

 

GNL Zamba’s songs

Kayimba Ka Maama

Kikankane

Tebangatika

Sesetula

Ghetto Mentality

Ani Yali Amanyi

Uganda Yaffe

Olabye Ekyana

Soda Jinjale

Say yes!

Mr Right

Ceazar(Sekabaka)

Things fall apart (Agenze)

Power

Never settle

Wololo

Imara

Dear Hip-hop

Badman Mission

True Manhood

Kasome

Yenze

Namagwatala

Luga flow( speaking vernacular)

Whistle song

Mbawe

Dreaming in colour

Akalimu

Nakupenda

Ensi bwekuba blow

Mimi ni Wako

Kwata essimu yo(message)

Ready for you

Nyo nyo nyo

Teli aluleta!

Stomping

Monami

Ofaayo

Machozi machoni

Singa

Omukwano (funny love)

Gyekiri (ontegera otya)

Wuuba akatambala

Story ya lukka

Together we stand

Unstoppable

Mind-body & soul

Voom voom ( Ku piki piki)

Kalipuso (welcome intro)

Ekikufula omusajja (what makes you a man)

 

Albums

2016 Dreaming in colour

2014 I AM Zamba/ Ceazar

2013 The Renaissance/Uganda Yaffe

2011 Speaking Vernacular

2009 Koyi Koyi (Riddles of Life)

 

Family

Born Ernest Nsimbi, on stage GNL Zamba, got married to Miriam Tamar who is also an artist from America. The couple got married in the US and their reception was held in Malibu, California.

 

“L’ACHAIM!!!? Still some of our friends can’t believe that we got married, they think we were shooting a music video.??? That would be such a major plot twist. Fam, this is the real thing! To prove it, here were are dancing to one of our most favorite songs! #AffairsOftheHeart #Nsimbi #wedding #Malibu #DancePartnerFirLife @miriam_tamar Thanks @dakotafine for this one?,” GNL Zamba posted on his Instagram page.

 

Social campaigns

GNL Zamba participated in Friend A Gorilla which was an Oxfam-sponsored campaign about environmental education with the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

‘Story ya Luka’, his song was selected by the Uganda Ministry of Health to headline a 2010 AIDs Youth education campaign.

“ True Manhood” video collaboration with Young Empowered And Healthy (YEAH) Uganda encouraged Ugandan youth to use condoms and it also won the People’s Choice Digital Media Award at the 2011 International Entertainment Education Conference.

For three years, GNL Zamba with Buzz Teeniez worked together as they toured Ugandan schools offering youths mentorship, encouraging social unity and staying in school.

Twaweza initiative in 2014 awarded him for the positive social impact of his song “We Cry” which elaborates street violence and safe s#x.

GNL Zamba has partnered with Reach A Hand Foundation Uganda since 2013 participating in a series of youth edutainment campaigns. He was once invited to lecture at Makerere University’s College of Humanities on oral literature and ethnology.

 

Why he chose Baboon forest

He says Baboon Forest came from his love for monkeys especially the big ones like apes and Rafiki. Rafiki is a character from the Lion King movie and because of monkeys are parts of our folklore.

He says there is a folk story that the monkeys always encourage the people to become kings, therefore, he calls himself the kingmaker that in Uganda’s Hip hop he designed a template that can be used by anybody to become great.

 

Why did he call himself GNL Zamba?

When he had just joined music, he used to call himself ‘Zeus Theodore’ before he changed it to his current stage name GNL Zamba. GNL stands for Greatness of No Limit and Zamba is his real botanical name.

 

CEO of three companies

Baboon Forest Entertainment

Eureka

Zamba Investments

Best dish

Fish

Steak

Mushroom soup

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