#WCW: Lowenna Barungi recounts her POA Star Search experience
Written by Derrick Asaba on August 18, 2021
Our minds move to far places, fly our thoughts to likelihoods and the impossibilities, but our eyes can’t stand such extreme treks and rather choose to keep us within the proximity of their reach. Not until we listen to the vociferous voices in our minds and act upon, do we make analysis of the former thought.
The Pearl of Africa (POA) Star Search Top Eight Finalist, Lowenna Olowo Barungi, heeded to her mind and took the opportunity up. With her voice on Bill Withers’ ‘Lean on me’, Barungi walked into the contest to battle it out against the other contestants.
With little regard to her eventual loss and with more need to know who the person is behind Barungi we watched on the Television shows, DERRICK ASABA sought to find out the ins and outs about her and the experience walked, during the Contest.
First, who is Lowenna Olowo Barungi?
I am the firstborn of two to Stephen Barungi and Angela Achieng Olowo. My brother is called Llewellyn Olowo Barungi and we reside in Wakiso district. My father hails from the Western district of Mbarara whereas my mother is from Tororo. I studied at Rainbow International School Uganda and I am currently starting my third year in University at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada pursuing a Bachelor of Arts, Majoring in Communication Studies and Business and Minoring in Legal Studies.
Does this mean you study online?
Yes I have been studying online since 2020 when the lockdown was imposed around the world but I was initially attending classes physically at the University before the pandemic began.
What was your major intention of participating in the POA Star Search from the start?
I wanted to meet and connect with new people. I also wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and learn as much as possible about the music and tourism industries in Uganda.
How different was the environment you found therein, from what you hoped it to be?
I really had no expectations going into it because I had no basis of past reference. It was the first time. I had never done something like this so I would say everything was a very pleasant surprise.
One of the reasons why you took part in this Search was to learn about the music and tourism industries in Uganda yet this was a competition. Were you a little concerned about this factor?
Definitely, however, I was mostly focused on gaining as much as possible out of the whole journey. Of course, winning the competition would have been just as amazing but my main goal was to learn and connect with people which I think I managed to achieve.
Of all the tasks given, which one did you find easy?
All the tasks presented had a unique challenge but I should say I was most comfortable with interviews and answering questions generally regarding tourism, music, the competition, among others.
I thought you were most comfortable with singing depending on the way you sang oftentimes…
I definitely loved singing. It was relatively tough to overcome the nervousness which is why I would say I was most comfortable with interviews. But once I overcame the nerves, then singing came quite naturally as well.
The most challenging task was writing/creating new music within a very short time, so we had to get very creative and we helped each other a lot. It was the most challenging but definitely one of the most rewarding experiences overall.
Visiting new places across the country, which place took much of your attention?
My breath was taken away by Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It was my first time traveling there and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. Gorilla trekking was one of the most memorable experiences for me. Traveling across the country and visiting new places definitely made me realize how much we have right here in Uganda. I encourage Ugandans to tour our country first and foremost because there is so much to see.
I realised you sang so many western alienated songs. Do you have any special attachments to it?
I listen to all types of music from all around the world so I wouldn’t say I have a special attachment to western music. However, given that it was a competition, I had to choose songs that suit my voice well, which is why I would mostly sing that type of music.
Do you remember the songs you sang?
I sang ‘Lean on me’ by Bill Withers in the 1-minute Audition video and later on sang ‘Read all about it’ by Emeli Sande and Byafaayo by Kent and Flosso for my physical audition. At the Western Regional Tour, I sang ‘Beautiful’ by Christina Aguilera. Together with Tonny Agami, we sang ‘Ngamba’ by Radio and Weasel and at the Top 8 knockouts, I sang ‘Where you are’ by Blu3 and the Goodlyfe Crew.
Being voted to the top eight, how did you manage to garner the votes?
My family and friends were my biggest support system. They would spend a lot of time garnering votes and sending out messages on my behalf. I definitely couldn’t have done it without their unwavering love and support.
Getting eliminated prior to the Semifinals, what really came to your mind at that moment?
I was definitely sad and disappointed at that moment but I was also very proud of myself for making it to the semi-finals and for having pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I was very happy with what I managed to achieve.
What do you think you never did right? Was the verdict just?
I think I could have done a better job at using more of the space on stage to improve my stage presence, but that will come with more time and practice.
If I were in your shoes then, I would have done something obvious to calm my soul down. How was your case?
Thankfully I wasn’t alone because I was with my fellow contestants and other members of the POA team, who I now call my family. They were very supportive and comforting, and I was mostly thinking about how much I would miss all of them, along with the whole POA experience.
How did your family and friends swallow the negative news after you couldn’t make it to the top six contestants; considerate of the fact that they were your support system during vote soliciting?
Without a doubt, they were just as sad and disappointed as I was. But they were even more proud of my achievements than I was. They welcomed me back home with open arms and were so happy for me to have experienced such a beautiful journey throughout the competition.
What were the key lessons you walked away without of this contest?
I learned to be more confident and to trust my abilities more. I also learned the importance of making new connections and building strong relationships with those around me. Finally, I learned not to be afraid of putting myself out there by leaving the comfort of familiarity. This pushed me to try new things that I ended up loving, so I will be forever grateful for this experience.
How are you intending to use this ripe platform to develop your musical career or other aspirations henceforth?
I hope to make some of my own music and further develop my talent using this amazing platform I have been given but not at the moment. I am taking things one day at a time.
Besides music, what other artistic aspects are you talented in?
I am also good at writing, especially articles and short stories. I have also written some poetry before.
If Lowenna Barungi was the next POA Star Search winner and the Tourism Ambassador, what would you prioritize to lay a strong brick onto the development of the Uganda Tourism Industry?
I would prioritize harmonizing and standardizing the processes and procedures in the industry. This would make sure that there are uniformly high standards of hospitality, customer care, transport and travel bookings, etc regardless of where you are or which part of Uganda you are visiting.
I would also work on campaigns that would demystify the idea of tourism and what it means to Ugandans. I would want to make sure that Ugandans know that our country is just as much ours to tour as it is for people coming from other countries of the world.
Would you take part in any talent search again and why?
At this point in time, I would like to focus on developing my talent, working on my own music, and completing my degree. So I would not take part in another talent search for the time being but I try to never say never. In the future, if the opportunity presents itself and if the time is right, I would be happy to give it another try.