Long before the sun rises over the Ugandan village of Njara, Abu is up, kneading dough to make chapats, flatbreads that his mother will later fry and sell on the market. Abu – who everyone calls Tabu – is 16, a teenager, full of dreams and ambitions. Manchester United is his favourite football team, and he wears the club’s jersey with pride. Tabu has five siblings between 10 and 27 years of age, three of them are still at school, his father passed away four years ago. Life is challenging, making enough money to pay for school fees and books is a struggle.
Once Tabu has finished his chores at home, he is off to school. He is a student in Senior Three at the state-run Mpanga Senior Secondary School in Fort Portal. Just one more year, but even that proves to be a waiting game. “16 years in school is too long for me, so I can’t wait to finish,” says Tabu. “My dream is to study music in one of the schools outside Uganda. If only money wouldn’t be an issue."
Music has turned into Tabu’s biggest passion after he had to realise that becoming an engineer would not be feasible due to the financial strains the training would put on his family. “I joined the Big Spit Music Cooperation in Fort Portal a couple of years ago,” says Tabu, “and today I am their producer.” Tabu spends every free minute with his friends in the small studio. Big Spit Music is run as a non-profit organisation and aims to promote everyone who is interested in art, music and films. Tabu makes their goals clear: “What our studio really is about is creating a place where people can meet, improve their talents and share ideas. We all want to live in a better, a more beautiful world, and we have to support each other to achieve this."
What has helped Tabu getting that bit closer to achieving his own, personal goals, was an event of pure coincidence. One evening in October 2015, he and his friends decided to take a walk to the nearby village of Kidubuli, an area they have not been before. Tabu is still excited when he thinks back: “I saw all these people, the community members and the Hello World team, and I stopped and listened to what they discussed and to their plans. The next day, I was the first person on site. All I wanted was to get involved in building the first Hello Hub in Uganda."
Two weeks later, the solar-powered Internet hub was up and running. It had been a huge team effort, led by the community and supported by the team of Project Hello World. “The Hello Hub has lead to affordable and easy Internet access,” says Tabu. “The Hello World team taught me how to use the educational software, how to research the Internet and how to find and download apps that help me at school with maths, chemistry and physics.”
Life has changed for the children and adults in Kidubuli since the arrival of the Hello Hub. They feel connected and empowered, part of a global community. For Tabu, the Hello Hub has become a place where people can address their problems and find solutions. “The Hello Hub has shaped my hope for the future,” he says, “my hope that it is indeed possible to become a film and music producer.”
By Monika Hubbard
If you would like to get in touch with Tabu, you can reach him by mobile and WhatsApp (+256 700 267128), or on Twitter @TabuTrabu. You can also listen to the music of Big Spit Music here.