News of Mac Elvis passing hit me hard. “Church Boy”, like he was known amongst his peers, drowned in a Dar-es-Salaam swimming pool on Saturday October 19th, 2013. I can’t say we were that close. He was a musician I met occasionally at gospel-themed concerts, one that always made it a point to come over and introduce himself to someone many see as the industry’s harshest critic. And every time we met, I could see the yearning in his eyes, eager to have me give his career my stamp of approval by way of a “Moses Serugo” byline. Yet having left mainstream media, I felt that would not amount to much now that I was running an obscure website, the bulk of my work time being gobbled up by arts event promotion.
Our last rendezvous was at the 2012 Olive Awards Nominees Night at some backwater venue somewhere near Bat Valley. He looked emaciated but explained it away as a result of a mostly fluid-based diet. He was recuperating from an iron-bar-hit-men attach that had left him with a broken jaw and a mostly yoghurt diet. Amazing how most times we see the victims as unlucky statistics in the rising wave of urban crime. That was probably the incident that gave Elvis a renewed lease on life, one that had him to lay claim to 2013 as his year christening himself “Mr. 2013”. It was this year that he also rode on the crest of his runaway hit Topowa Game, the title track to his album.
The saddening thing was meeting his death the way he did, in a foreign land, away from family. The conspiracy theorist in me thought there could have been something sinister about his death to merit a CSI-style investigation. But then again it may have been his time as Christian folk are wont to explain away such untimely demises. After all he was on a mission to win souls and had left quite a mark according to those that were on the trip with him. My own guilt tripping has had me beating myself up for not acknowledging this young man’s talent in his living years. Good thing he left us with parting shot in Topowa Game, an ode to never giving up no matter the circumstances. If 2013 has been annus horribilis maybe because the number “13” is associated with bad luck, let Topowa Game be the nugget those of us that still have breath can live by. A concert to celebrate his life will be held Sunday December 1st at UCF Makerere starting 3pm. Entrance is UGX5K. For those that want something to remember Mark Elvis Mutalya by, Topowa Game albums will be on sale.
Text: MOSES SERUGO (firstname.lastname@example.org)