What tribute bands, life in care and moving to the UK from Uganda was like with Zaina Nawanga

Little Fix

Zaina and I fell in love one fateful work night out and we haven’t looked back since. For two people who grew up in such different circumstances, we are so alike it’s uncanny sometimes.

When I see her perform, my heart feels heavy with love and my eyes pop out of my head with joy.

I miss working behind a bar with her mostly every moment of every day – especially when someone would play You Rock My World and we would come alive with hands and hips, trying to make each other laugh on the walk back from the restaurant to the kitchen, dancing around with as many plates as we could carry.

Or the time I saw my ex boy friends in the bar and ran away to the bathroom, where she followed me with 2 shots to get my butt back out there.

She has the best deadpan sense of humour, the voice of an angel and God damn legs that just wont quit. I hope we’re friends forever and I hope you like reading about her very interesting life.

Where were you born and what was it like to leave it behind at such a young age?

I was born in Uganda and I left at the age of 10. It was painful and I wish I left at a younger age so I wouldn’t remember everything like it happened yesterday.

Baby Zaina

Was it scary to move to a different continent alone, and what advice would you give to somebody considering moving somewhere entirely different to where they grew up?

It wasn’t scary until I got here. In Africa I watched English speaking TV shows and thought ‘that’s where I’m going’ but in fact it was actually America in the TV shows… so when I arrived to this freezing cold country, I was shook and bloody baltic!

My advice would be to make sure you learn about where you’re going and try to have an understanding of the culture in the region you’re moving to before you go.

What were some of the hardest adjustments to get used to after moving to the UK?

Definitely the language, I used to think people spoke so fast. I find it funny when people tell me to slow down now because that used to be me.

The weather too! I didn’t understand why it was so cold at the time but I did arrive in February.

The culture was so different, there are so many things that people in the UK take for granted – like a washing machine, a dishwasher, free milk and apples provided in school, a free meal in school, even a free toy with your happy meal!

Baby Zaina

The food was another big change, I remember being so sick from eating things like pizza and chips. I was used to eating fruit I had literally picked from a tree myself and suddenly I was in a place where I couldn’t do that, and the culture revolved around eating processed food.

I had perfect teeth before I moved over to Scotland but with the amount of sugar available to kids here I had to get fillings after only two years, the change in diet was a shock for my body to adjust to.

What was your experience like growing up in care, and do you still have a relationship with your Scottish family/families?

I had the best experience growing up in care.

I moved into care about a year after I moved to the UK. The first year in the UK I was miserable, I wasn’t allowed to experience all of the things other kids my age were able to because of my living situation.

After I moved into care I was allowed to be a kid, I was allowed to make friends and I met people who are now my family!

My Scottish family are my real family and I wish I could change my name to Zaina O’Neill Haddow Docherty 😂

Care has given me some of the biggest opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to achieve myself and I will forever be grateful!

What was it like moving to a new school, and did you struggle with the Scottish accent at first?

School was probably the hardest bit of everything I had to do. I moved over when I was in primary 7 (the last year of primary school) and by that point everybody had already made friends with each other, so everyone was already in their own groups.

My classmates were all in the process of going into high school too and I didn’t have a clue what was going on, because the education system in Uganda is completely different.

The Scottish accent was challenging to understand at first but I picked it up so quickly!

How long did your citizenship process take?

It’s different for everybody but mine was longer than expected. It took four and a half years.

In what ways did it affect your life having to wait so long, and how do you think the process could be better?

It affected my life so much because you’re not allowed to leave the country when you’re in the middle of applying for your citizenship.

I missed out on so many opportunities with friends and my work too – it meant someone had to take my place when Little Fix were performing outside of the UK which was gutting.

I’ve been here for nearly 14 years and I think the process could be so much quicker for people that have been here for that length of time.

The process could have been a lot more humanising if people that have been here for such a long time had the freedom to move in and out whilst waiting for their citizenship.

What are your first memories with music?

I went to a singing school when I was around thirteen or fourteen called Singer Station. It’s probably when I started making proper friends!

Singer station is actually where I met people who I still call my best friends now, almost a decade later. It was set up for young people in my area (Balloch) and it’s amazing for anyone who wants to sing but struggles with confidence.

How did you become a member of Little Fix?

Little Fix were together for about a year before I joined. One of the members left and they were looking for a new member with a dark complexion, a friend of a friend recommended me and the rest is history!

Zaina performing

Were you always interested in pursuing a career with music?

When I joined Singer Station I thought I was going to be a legit star. I even imagined singing in front of thousands of people in my room with everyone screaming my name, but then life got in the way!

I started working in a pub and kind of forgot about music until two years ago when I got the message about being in Little Fix.

What’s the biggest impact Little Fix has had on your life?

Little Fix has changed my life completely, more than anyone will ever know. Two years ago I would have never imagined singing in front of all those people and meeting so many people too.

I’ve become a really confident person, not in a cocky way but in a way where I could stand up for myself, which is something I’ve never been able to do.

It’s taught me to love myself and not care what other people think, and it’s given me a sisterhood to experience it all with.

Little Fix

Have you had negative experiences with fans since performing in Little Fix?

We do get a lot of hate online from Little Mix fans because they don’t understand why we have a tribute to a band who are still producing music. It comes from all angles – hateful tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram comments and Youtube videos.

How do you deal with abuse online and what would you say to anybody experiencing something similar?

I’m very thankful for our manager Scott who always has great advice on how to deal with negative comments. It’s hard to handle at times but it mostly comes from young kids and teenagers so we tend to just ignore them.

If you were to let all of the nasty comments get to you then you go insane and start to doubt yourself, but you can’t let that happen.

Little Fix

What are the most rewarding and difficult parts of being in a tribute band?

The opportunity to fulfil your passion of performing.

It’s amazing to go out in front of the kids who are so happy to be there and see their faces light up. We get to perform all over the country with a great bunch of people too!

The negatives are that it’s tiring, performing the sets is physically demanding and combined with all of the travelling you end up working long hours. Your social life takes a hit too since we work most weekends!

Where can people find out more about Little Fix and your upcoming shows?

Our Facebook – little mix tribute band

Our website- http://www.little-fix.co.uk

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