Nanyombi was born to Mukasa Venansio and Joyce Nambarirwa in Kyebando, a Kampala suburb. She was born able-bodied and lived up to two-and-a-half years when she suffered from polio that left both of her legs paralysed. That is when she stopped walking and resorted to crawling.
“I crawled to school and it was so hectic. There were stones on the way that kept on cutting my knees and feet. The school was far. After suffering from many injuries, I got a temporary solution. This was wrapping papers around my knees and feet to stop injuring them. I moved on like this until when I was 12 years,” she says.
Though she was crawling, she could do almost what every other child could do, including digging.
“I love digging and I could dig very well. Many people were excited to see me digging. My favourite kind of digging was making potato heaps.”
Nanyombi’s music career started when she was young and credits most of her achievements to music.
“I got my first wheel chair because of music. I was a very active member of my Church Choir called St. Cecilia Choir. I was spotted by the Father of St. Thomas Church and he gave me a wheel chair. This was a very big turning point in my life because my movements were made easy. Shorty after, another Father gave me a tri-cycle,” she recalls.
Not only did Nanyombi have passion for music but politics too. The politics exposed her and ventured into sports. It also inspired her to take her music career out of church to another level.
“I started politics when I was very young. I was in Senior Two and competed for a slot to represent women with disabilities at Kawempe Division. Before this, I was already representing persons with disabilities at Local Council One (LCI) and at the Parish,” she says. This was in 1996.
Going to Japan
She did not win the election but the exposure gave her a chance and was picked on to participate in the Oita International Wheelchair Race in 1998.
“I was spotted because I was active and known. Somebody connected me to John Ssebaggala who was working at Kireka Rehabilitation Centre. He gave me a special wheelchair which I used for racing and he trained me. We participated together in the race in Japan. I was the 10th out of more than 500 participants,” she narrates.
And there is something more she can not forget about Japan.
“The Japanese are very kind people. Many of them loved me. They always wanted to be with me and gave me several gifts. They treated me like a celebrity. That is where I got the wheel chair I currently use.”
Her trip to Japan was fully paid for by the Japanese Government. However, her repeated efforts to participate in subsequent races in Japan were futile since the embassy denied her <leo_highlight leohighlights_keywords=”team” leohighlights_url_top=”https%3A//shortcuts.thebrowserhighlighter.com/leonardo/plugin/highlights/3_1/tbh_highlightsTop.jsp?keywords%3Dteam%26domain%3Dunapd.org” leohighlights_url_bottom=”https%3A//shortcuts.thebrowserhighlighter.com/leonardo/plugin/highlights/3_1/tbh_highlightsBottom.jsp?keywords%3Dteam%26domain%3Dunapd.org” leohighlights_underline=”true”>team visas.
“They suspected that some of us or our helpers could escape and stay in Japan. We had many helpers and therefore embassy officials were suspicious. There were more helpers than the sportsmen and women,” she says.
Nanyombi’s music career started when she was young. She was part of her school choir and also a member of her church choir called St. Cecilia Choir. She was inspired to take her music career to another level by a summon from a pastor in Kawempe.
“The pastor preached in church that everyone can get what they want in life. Want I wanted to become is a successful musician. This summon inspired me so much that I realised that I can make it. On my way back from church, I bought a book and a pen and started writing down my song. When I started writing, the song was just flowing,” she recalls. “I started rehearsing at home where I was renting. A few days after, every neighbour was singing my song with me.”
Shortly after, she joined another church, Christian Life Church in Bwaise. She also became part of that church’s choir where she impressed and caught the attention of the church pastor, Christopher Songa.
“He said I would make a very good musician and advised me to sing alone. He said he had seen a disabled lady preaching very well, and that I could also become a good disabled musician,” she recalls. “Then someone connected me to a good producer, Andrew Kaweesa, who recorded my first song.”
Her first song, is called Weekwate ku Mukama (Behold God). She produced an album with four songs in 2008 including Weekwate ku Mukama, Nyweza Endagaano, Mukama Nkwebaza and Kanyimbe. They are all gospel songs.
Her best song, Kanyimbe (Let me Sing) is a testimony about her surprise visit to Japan and what she had gone through in life.
“I was surprised to go to Japan. I enjoyed, and I learnt. I had never expected in my life that I would board an airplane and go to Japan. The Japanese loved me so much,” she says.
In the recording studio, she got in touch with more prominent gospel musicians like Florence Rukundo, Kiyingi Wasswa and Danjero Busuulwa, who continued to inspire her.
After recording her first song, her church pastor gave her an opportunity to perform before the church audience on a Sunday and she thrilled the congregation. She received over 100,000= from cash prizes. The pastor also made sure that she performed at the church whenever there was a wedding.
When Nanyombi is fired up while singing, she gets out of her wheel chair and starts to dance while crawling. In fact, one of her songs, Kanyimbe, is of the traditional Kiganda dance with drum rhythms. She performs it while crawling and the spectators are thrilled by watching the same traditional dance performed in a different way.
In 2008, she performed at the Korean East African Conference hosted by her church and she received 650,000=. “I used the money to produce a video for my song, Weekwate ku Mukama, and to produce more songs. She launched this song in 2009 and was accompanied by many gospel artists.
Future music plans
Nanyombi wants to produce new songs and videos for old songs but lacks the money. “I started shooting the video for Kanyimbe but ran short of funds. It would be a thriller. I wanted to shoot from the airport when I am boarding an airplane but the airport management is so demanding. It needs a lot of money, time and doing much follow-up.