Welcome to our stories, you’re in for a treat!
This is the story of our lives. You might find we have a lot in common with you or you might be surprised. We hope our stories motivate you to work for your dreams, this is why we share. We are fighters for dreams, even if the way our lives don’t look how we want them to be. Are you a fighter, too?
Triplets Ghetto Kids
Our name is who we are. Right back in the early years, Kavuma Dauda – our Manager Ticha – was thinking about the idea “Triplets” – sometimes spelling it as Tripplets – which means the three pillars of our organisation: Dance, drama and music. After Sitya Loss, we went by the name “The Ghetto Kids” because all of us had begun our lives in the ghettos of Kampala and, rather than run from it, we wanted to show our background with pride and honesty. The ghetto gave us the first lessons in our lives and there are people there – and people who lived there that we lost – that we cherish.
For us, “Ghetto” is not an insult or a street fashion, the ghetto of Kampala is our roots and we think you all appreciate the importance of being fully connected to your roots. We were often called the Sitya Loss Kids by the media and for a time it was useful to us to stand out from other dance groups that went by the name “ghetto kids” but we needed our own name rather than the name of a song. At the beginning of the Triplets Foundation Uganda we used that name, too, but the dance group needed a specific identity so we arrived at Triplets Ghetto Kids or TGK.
Enjoy our stories, tell us how they make you feel, the parts you like best and tell us yours. Love to you all, TGK Family ❤️
Ada: Never give up
Wassap, my friends! I love dancing, I love hiphop, I’m a big fan of Kendrick Lamar and I like social networking. I like shooting videos and when I was younger I dreamed about becoming a journalist because I have a lot of stories to tell. I could never have imagined all the things that have happened to me could have been possible. But my life has already been full of the craziest contrasts, from sitting exhausted in the dust on a Kampala street after a terrible day to dancing on a huge stage in Los Angeles with American megastars for the entire world.
At the beginning, all I knew was the struggle, that was how I called it in my head. Often, I would say to myself that life was cruel, it was a game I played. The rules were simple: if I could convince myself that life was really cruel, I would learn to beat it and any good things that came my way would feel totally great.
One day, when I was 9, my friend Alex was sitting next to me talking about his manager. He was pretending to be just chatting but I knew he was leading up to something.
‘You should come and meet him,’ Alex told me.
I was like, ‘Why would I want to meet your manager?’ pretending I wasn’t bothered but secretly scared of not impressing this manager and having him tell me I was no good. Well, I ended up fresh out of excuses and Alex wasn’t taking no for an answer so I got up, brushed the dust off my legs and went with him.
When we arrived, Alex insisted that the manager give me his attention. So the man began with some basic steps. Alex was so encouraging, shouting that I was a natural and slapping me on the back. The manager was patient and kind with me, he told me not to give up, and I remember he looked me square in the eye and added, ‘Never give up’. I knew he wasn’t just saying that to make Alex happy, he was saying it for me, so I trusted him and I tried again. And again. A few days later, he put us with two brothers, the younger one – Fred – was fast, his moves came naturally and he was expressive, like Alex.
Next thing I know, we’re shooting Sitya Loss on a road with people occasionally driving past. How could I have imagined that day was going to change my life forever? What I do know is that everything rides on hard work. It didn’t come easily to me but my new opportunity taught me about what I can achieve when I put my mind to it. I managed to get really good at something that makes me proud of who I am. Do you know how that feels? There’s nothing like it.
I wanna thank you for all your support, your messages and your shares. We love you as much as you love us. “You are… unforgettable”. Tell me your story, what did you fight to get good at? Share your comments with us and your social media #TGKmybroAda (Birthday: 21 July 2004)
Patricia: Through thick n thin
First of all, I want to thank all of you for being with us through thick and thin, without your support we couldn’t be where we are today. I thank you as well for all the messages, prayers and help you sent when I most needed them. I’ll never forget that.
I love dancing, I really feel like I can express things I don’t find words for and I also love fashion, I sometimes dream about being a fashion designer because I love how colours are exactly what they are, they speak more beautifully than a thousand words.
As you may remember, I was very little when this whole thing started. Before that, life was dust, sweat and endless hustling. My parents struggled to find the money to keep me and my brothers in school so, even though we really wanted to go, sometimes we couldn’t. When a child can’t go to school, they are never given a proper space to think about their future or their talents. At school they always say ‘What you’re learning now will be useful for the future,’ and we begin to understand how the effort we make now will help us in years to come. Even though some children do this without the help of a teacher and a classroom, others will often focus on getting through the immediate problems in their life. Now, when I think back to that time, I can see how much I needed a space just to have hope for my future.
I knew Ticha Manager was training children to dance and perform, I’d heard people talked about him. I wasn’t expecting to meet him so my mouth fell open when I found him standing in front of me asking why I was missing school. He listened patiently to me and then invited me to make a video with some other kids. He explained to my mother that dancing was going to help pay for our school fees so she agreed I could go. There were 4 boys and I was the only girl! The boys had already practiced but Ticha gave me a few instructions and told me to trust in myself. That day we shot Sitya Loss and it was uploaded to YouTube.
Very quickly, everybody was talking about us! Thanks to that video, we got loads of chances to make enough money dancing in events and on TV to pay for our school fees and begin to help other kids to go back to school. I love to look back on those days because they were exciting and happy times. We trained really hard but we were so driven. We would tell each other that we could do much more than we knew if we worked hard enough.
Like other kids we went to school and listened in class but outside we worked ourselves hard. Alex was always inspiring, he had no end of energy. I think he felt that he was our older brother and it was up to him to encourage us. Haha, he was so ambitious! I think that a little bit of Alex lives on in each of us. Not long after Sitya Loss, we shot Jambole in the garden. We were just having fun, expressing our happiness and our new enthusiasm for life. Eddy Kenzo’s songs have this strong feeling of celebrating new chances and new hope and this is why they’re perfect for what we wanted to share in the videos we’ve made with him.
We began to hear stories that our videos were getting popular in Europe and America and other parts of the world. It wasn’t long before reporters from Europe started coming over to interview us. Manager Ticha dreamed of creating an organisation to help more children go to school and unlock their different talents through dance, acting and music and that dream became known as the Triplets Foundation.
I said earlier “thick and thin” because life after Sitya Loss was far from smooth. We now felt the love of millions of you around the world but life had more hard lessons to test us with. I made a full recovery from the accident but we had lost our big brother and some were saying that we had lost our future. All the same, we found the conviction in our faith and in each other and we built on that. When we shot Just Bieber’s video Sorry, some new talents began to emerge. Ronnie was bright, cheerful and a born natural on his feet, like Fred. Ada, far from being crushed by grief, was transforming into a fast, talented dancer and it was amazing to see how he came into his own. Isaac, who is an example of steady perseverance, was someone we all felt we could rely on and Kokode, well, wherever he is, laughter is not far away so he always knows how to lighten the mood.
This taught me to put my best into what I can do today and, as Ticha says, trust myself. It’s easy to say, ‘If things were better I would do this,’ but things are exactly the way they are and we can only work with what we’ve got. I want to leave you with this thought: take what you have right now and try hard to make the best of it. What do you have that makes you unique and what can you do with it? Please comment and share on your social media #TGKmysisPatricia (Birthday 21 February 2005)
Fred: Passion pushes me through all my troubles
My brother Isaac and I used to go out together to try and hustle some money. Our parents couldn’t afford to put us through school so we had different options. One thing we did was to go through the rubbish and sell anything worthwhile as scrap. You spent most of the time up to your knees in other people’s rubbish. I hated it, it smelt disgusting and you would get scratches and cuts from broken metal and glass even when you were careful. Another thing we could do was dance and play music on the street for donations. Both options were dangerous, we could be attacked and robbed and there was no one to stand up for us. We were quick on our feet but we were just kids.
Isaac and me, we were inseparable because we depended on each other to get home safely every day, two sets of eyes and ears constantly alert are better than one. One day when I was 10, we were on the street. Isaac was playing the drum and I was dancing and a man came over to us. He asked why we weren’t at school and we told him about our life. He told us he liked our dancing and would we like to go to school.
Now I think back on it, I’m surprised we weren’t more on our guard. It wasn’t unusual for people with bad intentions to trick kids with promises of a better life, we all knew about children who had disappeared from the streets. All the same, we leapt at the chance, maybe we were just too tired of being desperate to be suspicious or maybe we felt he was for real. I think that because I remember he was soft spoken, not harsh and loud, and he talked to us with respect. After what felt like the longest conversation with our mother, he arranged to have us go to school.
I had never had dance training before and Ticha put us to work training for Sitya Loss with Alex and Ada. Dancing was something I did intuitively but I didn’t know about learning steps and movements and co-ordinating with other people. On the day of the shoot, Patricia turned up, you should have seen the look on our faces when we saw her dance!
By day, we went to school and I was surprised at all the things I could fit in my head in just one day at school. I sometimes wondered if it would ever get too full of new information but it was funny how the more I learned, the more space there seemed to be to learn more.
Through the hard work I put into learning to dance I got results and with results, passion. Passion drives my dedication when my legs ache with tiredness and when a move I’m working on takes more patience than I can stand. I don’t mind life being hard, I just want my passion to push me through all the troubles.
I’m so appreciative of all the details that have gone into taking me from that life begging on the street to this life I’m now living. There are so many generous people behind that change, people all around the world that I have never met but who have shown me their respect and support. I feel such love and gratitude to you all and because of that, I want to know what you’re passionate about. There is plenty of room on the social media for your talents, what are they? Please comment and also share on your social media #TGKmybroFred (Birthday: 20 October 2003)
Isaac: Starving for that invisible thing
From when we were very small, my brother Fred and I used to hang together, he was my little brother and we always looked out for each other. There weren’t many options, our job was to try and find a bit of money to keep going day after day. Work was hard to find and the adults around us did whatever they could find so we had to pull our weight, too.
The day we met Ticha, he had seen us performing on the street and said that we had talent and offered to get us into school. We took him to talk to our mother. I wanted to believe that this was going to lead to some hope for us because even though every day we struggled, I couldn’t stop myself wishing life was different. Ticha spoke with a lot of kindness and conviction. He told us about Alex and how he had danced in Eddy Kenzo’s videos. I had never met a man who talked like him before, it was like he could see something that was invisible to the rest of us and I was starving for that invisible thing.
In the end, our mother agreed and we started school. We also had to work very hard at dancing, this was different to hustling, we were learning to make our arms and legs do things they’d never done before! I saw how my little brother was transforming in that time, he was really coming out of himself in the dancing and that made me happy because I would have done anything for him. I had never seen him smile so much before and, unlike our days on the streets, he was dancing with passion and fully enjoying it.
Life after Sitya Loss was like nothing I could have imagined in my wildest dreams. We began to dance on stages in front of thousands of cheering fans at the weekend. We had school and clothes and food all the time and I prayed we’d never have to hustle again. We danced with IDU, a well-known adult dance group in Kampala, and musicians like Patoranking from Nigeria.
We began working on our own songs and this was when I got to write and sing my own lyrics as you can hear in Yamba, Mood, Mama Ye Mama among others. I feel so good when I see how my work looks finished, it’s something I’ve brought into the world and it will always be there.
When the Americans arrived to make Unforgettable with us, I couldn’t stop staring. I loved how easy it was to talk to Swae Lee, he was friendly and fun but he told me about a life I just couldn’t picture in my head. I could tell his life had been difficult too because you could see it in his eyes, it was like he understood without needing to say anything. When I tried to imagine his country, I could only think if the American films I’d seen. I wasn’t expecting to see it for myself so quickly.
I’m deeply thankful to French Montana for helping us as much as he has and I’m thankful to all of you who send us so many messages and share our videos. You give us so much support and you’ve helped us leave behind our old lives. Have you ever written a song, have you tried to put your feelings into something new? Tell us about it, comment and share on your social media, let the world know #TGKmybroIsaac (4 August 2002)
Ronnie: Dancing links us to each other
I think I’m right to say that in all of Africa, dance has always been and still is a fundamental part of our lives. Here in Kampala you see many things, some terrible and some amazing, but dance is always nearby in every minute of our existence. You’ll see someone just walking down the street and maybe they’ll pull a little dance move as a greeting to a friend. That kind of explains who I am.
I supposed I’ve always been a performer of some kind. From very little I was singing and dancing has always felt natural, but life was a struggle. My dreams pushed me even though I couldn’t see how I could make them real. Word spread of the ‘Sitya Loss Kids’ who were now performing on TV and at events. They were in with celebrities like Eddy Kenzo and I felt it was impossibly out of my reach but that didn’t stop me. My luck changed when a person from a TV channel gave me Ticha’s contact details. He agreed to watch me, he saw talent in me and invited me to join.
I identified a lot with Alex, he was very confident and kept saying we were going to be stars and I liked that he was so open about it because growing up, if you talked like that people would say you were being big-headed. But I felt they didn’t really get it, I wanted this and I didn’t want to spend my life hustling.
When I went to the US I heard some people say, ‘I can’t dance’ and it was a surprise to me, because I think an African would never say that. We dance therefore we are ? and we’re proud of that. Dancing is something that we do together and it links us to each other, even when we’ve had a fight. You can’t stay mad for very long at someone you’re dancing with.
Still, I’ve noticed a change since our videos went viral, kids all over the city are organising and training hard. They’ve started making impressive groups and videos. The social media is alive with young Ugandans showing the world their talents and this is special to me because, yes, we face big problems every day, sometimes we don’t have enough to eat, sometimes we can’t pay the school fees or afford medicines when we’re sick and, believe me, life is very scary when those things are just around the corner but we are a people of faith, we never give up, we fight for our lives and we put a brave smile on our faces.
Our dearest friends, we are no strangers to bad things happening or to fear, the same as you. I would just like to remind you to be confident and believe in yourselves. When you get tired of chasing an opportunity, remember me and keep going. Tell me about it in the comments and on your social media #TGKmybroRonnie (Birthday: 5 May 2002)
Kokode: I show my adversary my teeth in the shape of a smile
I gotta smile and it’s got your name on it. Have you got one for me? You know what I love? I love to laugh! You know, when we laugh it’s like nothing is too terrible, it’s that simple. Me, I like a good joke, sometimes I like a bad joke, too! I think I’ve always been like that because I can remember when I was very little how laughter could beat a tense situation, and I’ve never seen anything else do that before.
Aside from that, I love playing football, it’s all about co-ordination and a strong team. I also love boxing and kick boxing because you can see there’s control and art there. For me these things are all connected to dancing and I love how we dance together, you can see how I loved dancing with my team in Mastiksoul’s Good For You.
I had heard about the Sitya Loss Kids before, just like everyone in Kampala, so when they came to my area I went to an event to see them. They launched a dance challenge and like all the others I went for it, and I got past the first round, and kept going. Then I won. Ticha said he was impressed by my skills and I looked at him waiting for the punchline…which never came. In fact, he asked me to join them! No joke. I got a smile on my face that was gonna stay there for life. I felt such a buzz to be there with Patricia, Ada, Alex, Fred and Isaac, who had become national stars by that time. You see, Sitya Loss was everywhere, it was the big summer song, you couldn’t go a day without hearing it on a car radio or coming from a shop or someone’s mobile. Everybody talked about the kids and there I was dancing with them.
The Triplets Foundation was quite big at this point and lots of different children were participating in different events. At the same time I was invited to join, another new boy started dancing with us, he was very cool and was already a great dancer. That was summer 2014 and he was Ronnie. We made our video debut together in Osobola.
I’d like to leave you with this: remember to try and laugh, especially when you don’t want to. Laughing is good for you, it shows that you can get through this next difficult phase in life. Tomorrow or next month there’ll be another one, don’t you worry about that!
A warrior, he shows his enemy his teeth and that’s exactly what I do. But me, I show them in the shape of a huge smile. Tell me how you show your teeth and share it on your social media #TGKmybroKokode (Birthday: 27 July 2000)
Nyangoma: The world can be a kind place
I had heard talk in my town about the Sitya Loss kids but I knew nothing about them. My town is a long way from Kampala, in the west of Uganda. As it happened, they came over to do a show and I was struck by the enthusiasm of the people around town. I really enjoyed their performance, though, I could see how happy they looked, their smiles weren’t hiding the kind of things my smiles hid. I had always danced in some way because I had to do it, it was just a hustle that I had been trained to do. I was taught you were supposed to look like you loved it but that wasn’t how I felt. These kids, though, they were confident.
Ticha talked to me after I had been working and asked me about school and my life. I was just 7 and he said that I had talent but that there was another way of dancing that was much better. I told him I couldn’t go to school and that I had to hustle but he wanted to meet my mother so I took him. Ticha talked and my mother looked unconvinced, but he insisted and eventually it was agreed that I could go back to Kampala with them and join them.
Patricia looked after me and she became like a big sister very quickly, I went to school and every day we practiced dancing all the time. This was nothing like I had ever done before, we would be learning steps together and learning how to co-ordinate with each other. We went to shows and we were all treated like celebrities and the way I felt about dancing changed. Now I feel proud of how it helps me express myself and especially of all the work I’ve put into it. For me, now, it’s something that I want to do, not something that I have to do.
At home, the boys are usually joking and laughing together and I came to see that we weren’t a dance group, we were a family. I had never thought life could be like that but I came to realise that my older brothers and sisters were there for me when I needed them.
It’s mind-blowing to go from hustling for survival to waking up in the morning and realising that people all over the world admire you and are ready to help you. It’s true, some people want all eyes on them so that they can feel superior but I don’t identify with that. Our new family, what we feel is tremendous gratitude to all of you. You’ve shown us – a group of street kids – that the world can be a kind place and your support has completely changed how we feel about ourselves. No act of kindness is too small. Thank you all. Please tell me how you feel about all this, what’s your story, tell us in the comments and in your social media #TGKmysisNyangoma (Birthday: 3 September 2007)
ManKing: From a street corner to a huge stage
Hello everybody, I’m ManKing Da RapKid and I want to thank you all so much for all the support you have always given me. I’m so grateful.
By the time I was 5 I had lost both my parents, my extended family were in charge of looking after me but my life was already in my hands, I didn’t have time to be little. I learnt to sing and rap as a way to hustle on the streets and that’s what I did from when I was very small. I would spend hours rapping, dancing or singing because what I earned had to be enough to get me through until the next day. It was a hard job, I’d get really hot and very thirsty but I’d push myself harder because I had to survive. Rapping seemed like a good idea to me because not many people were doing it so it was a good alternative. Some people didn’t like to hear rap and they would yell at me or throw something in my direction and I’d have to make a run for it.
One day I was singing for the boda boda riders (people who catch motorbike taxis to move around the city) and a man was listening to me. He said I was talented and wanted to know my story. After listening, he told me I didn’t have to carry on living that way and that I could go to school and carry on learning to rap. I was suspicious but then he explained that he was the manager of the famous Sitya Loss kids so I agreed to go with him to meet them and see it for myself. I wondered how many men were walking around Kampala claiming to be the manager of those celebrities and I figured I could run away at the first sign of trouble.
Well, I met the real Sitya Loss Kids and watched them practice. They blew my mind. Ticha, as they called him, asked me to join them and try and keep up with their dance moves. You don’t want to know how that went. Dancing with other people? Me? All the same, I got a really good feeling from it and I was ready to give it a try.
We worked hard in dance and I continued to develop in rap and we all went to school. I didn’t find it easy to fit into this new life and sometimes wondered if I would be better off alone. There are no guarantees things are going to go well and it was difficult to have trust when you’re used to being your own boss. All the same, they were all very patient with me and we all learnt a lot together. I pushed myself to rap faster and better and now I have several of my own songs. It’s a big change to go from a street corner to a huge stage, from Uganda to the US, but that is my story.
So what is your story? Maybe you have parents, maybe you don’t know the streets like I do, but your story is worth telling too. Does something drive you to try hard even when it seems impossible? Tell me about it in the comments and your social media #TGKmybroManking (3 June 2004)