Who is Zuena Kirema? Flash Uganda Media looks at her biography, early life, education and family of Bebe Cool’s wife
Zuena Kirema Ssali is a former Miss Uganda contestant, former TV host, businesswoman, wife to Bebe Cool and a mother. She is a very reserved woman, humble and down to earth person.
Early Life and Education
Zuena Kirema was born in Jinja District to parents of different races. Her mother is of an Arab origin while her father is an African, a mixture of Munyankole and Tutsi from Rwanda.
The two met in Arua where her mother was pursuing her nursing course while her father was on his business duties.
Zuena’s mother was raised in Jinja, so after the two met, she told her friend (Zuena’a father) that after her education studies she will be going to work in Jinja Hospital. So her father had no choice but to relocate to Jinja to live with his wife. “That’s why people end up calling me a Musoga but I don’t care.”
Zuena after her S.6 she joined an institute located in Kasanga to pursue Tourism. But by then she had given birth to her first child and still breastfeeding.
Telling her story, Zuena says she had to drop out of school in her second year because she could not take in the pressure any longer.
Her husband used to escort her to attend lectures and while in class, he had to baby seat the child in the car and when the baby cries, he texts her and she asks for permission to go and breastfeed the baby, all together, Zuena says her husband’s businesses were failing in the process.
For that reason, Zuena and her husband Bebe Cool collectively decided to end her studies to take care of the child and to allow her husband to carry on his routine work normally.
However, Zuena says today she doesn’t regret dropping out of school because she’s doing way better in life.
She has achieved so much, both as a mother, businesswoman (CEO Zuena events) and presenter on “Life Stories.”
Work and Experience
Zuena Kirema began working while in her senior four vacations as Miss Bell. This was after she participated in Miss Bell contest held in Jinja.
Taking part in the Miss Bell contest wasn’t Zuena’s ideal plan, it was an abrupt program, and however, she ended up winning. She was influenced by her close friends who had an interest in the contest.
Zuena’s friends one day informed her that they were going to register for the Miss Bell auditions the following day, “are you not interested? one of her friends asked, but her second friend intervened and said they will not admit you because you are mixed blood.
Since she had no much interest in the contest, she said let’s go, if they throw me out, I will accompany you.’
Leaving home the following day, Zuena told her mother that she was going to escort her friends to register their name for the Miss Bell auditions taking place soon.
Her mother wasn’t so strict on her, she granted her request, as she waited beside for her friends to complete the registration process, one of the officials asked: “And you?” Zuena replied, “me too.”
“Time came for modelling and I knew nothing, my friends knew everything, so I tried to do what they were doing, and the officials picked interest in me, I was taken and they announced that tomorrow is finals and I emerged the winner, Miss Bell, in the final auditions.”
With this tittle, Zuena was required to appear at every Bell Lager functions for one year, when the contract would be expired. She became the face of Bell Lager, a title that required her to appear at every Bell Lager function and along the way; Zuena acquired many modelling jobs which took her to as far as Libya.
One of Zuena’s friends grew jealousy about her win; this created a rift between the two friends until today the two no longer communicate. However, they stayed in touch with her next friend who is now a gospel preacher.
After, Zuena says they came to Kampala and camped at Speke Resort Munyonyo for one month undergoing training for the Miss Uganda contest, a contest she lost.
Zuena also worked as Television Host of Life Stories program on NTV Uganda, the Serena based station. However, two years down the road, she resigned her position as a host of the Life Stories show on NTV Uganda, in 2015.
Zuena’s resignation was a family decision as she needed enough time to concentrate on her businesses and family issues. Zuena took to her social media to announce her departure from NTV and thanked her fans and NTV staff.
“It’s been an interesting journey for two years working at NTV with a great team of management, producers, cameramen and fellow presenters. But my journey has come to an end and I would like to thank God for the good friends I made and experience I got. Unfortunately, on Sunday you will be watching my last show as Life Stories presenter as I have to concentrate on unavoidable family issues.”
Zuena’s husband, Bebe Cool welcomed the decision his wife made.
“I fully support my family and we make decisions collectively since we stick together.”
He also said that the resignation is not in bad faith but rather for the good of his wife and his family.
Zuena in her narrations did not leave the Serena-based television station because of office politics as it was alleged, but she wanted to blow her own trumpet.
“I left NTV Uganda to concentrate on my cake business, I always wanted to be self-employed and when I got the maternity leave, I told myself I had to take up the opportunity and blow my own trumpet for my cake business. It is doing great now, despite having a challenging start.”
Before Zuena Kirema joined NTV she was baking cakes, but she spent most of the time at the station. So, Zuena realized that she wouldn’t balance her time well between making cakes and being at NTV.
“So when I got my maternity leave, I decided to become self-employed and focus on my cakes because I realized that cakes were better than the TV work.”
At first, when she started the cake business, there was a lot of miscommunication from the people, saying she won’t make it, and all sorts of words.
“There was a time I wanted to give up but my husband said no you have to push on, this is what you decided to do and you won’t go back to NTV and tell them you are back again after a year or two you understand, then I had to push on and on top of baking cakes, I added on the decoration work.”
“The time I used to deliver the cakes, I so that I can also decorate based other decorators people were doing. I had a friend who was a decorator, I told her to help me learn how to decorate, where do you get these things from? And today I do cakes and decoration at the same time.”
I was scared when people talked but then I got used to their words and concentrated because they had talked before, from the time they met with Bebe, Miss Uganda people talk a lot.
Zuena’s sister-in-law taught her how to bake cakes.
However, she has achieved so much, both as a mother businesswoman (CEO Zuena Events) that deals in cake baking and decorations for any kind of event and presenter on “Life Stories.”
Zuena Kirema is married to Bebe Cool (Big Size) original name Moses Ssali, and together they have five (5) children, namely; Alpha Thierry Ssali, Beata Ssali, Deen Ozil, Caysan Ssali and Eman Ssali.
Zuena also mothers Bebe Cool’s elder son from an earlier relationship.
Zuena and Bebe Cool met way back in 2001 at a farewell party that happened at Crane Chambers seeing off Miss Uganda who was heading to China. It was the first time the two met and talked to each other.
Bebe Cool soon after greeting Zuena, he asked for her number but unfortunately, Zuena declined his request.
“He just said hi how are you, How is the night? I said it is ok then he said can I please have your number? I said no!”
Later on that night the group proceeded to silk and again they met each other once again, and again Bebe asked for Zuena’s number, and again she hesitated.
“I told him you know what give me your number I will call you, I wanted to relieve myself off him, and he gave it to me. So after some time, he comes back and started talking to me, in the event of talking, I picked sense in his conversation but his physical appearance was a different picture altogether compared to his words.”
Zuena didn’t give him her number but after like two days she called him because she realized that Bebe was a sensible person, he was more of an adviser and also he was a Muslim, both were from the same religious background, “I said you never know.”
After the call, the two arranged for a meet to get to know each other better more, and the rest was history.
Zuena didn’t like Bebe Cool at first because of his hairstyle (the dreadlocks) and the way he was dressed, a vest moreover on a party, so to her he looked untidy and a “Muyaaye”.
At first Zuena parents had rejected Bebe Cool given his social status, a dreadlocked man yet they are devoted Muslims, but as time went on, they accepted him the way he was, after discovering that he is an understanding and intelligent person contrary to his outward appearance.
After Zuena conceived, she moved to Bebe Cool’s house and the two began living together.
By then Bebe was an upcoming artist, they lived in a small two-roomed house of which the bedroom had no window, it was a hard life at the start, but covered with love.
Then after some time, Zuena Kirema and Bebe Cool got married at Crane Chambers in a Civil marriage, it was a surprise, she didn’t why Bebe had called her to meet him at Crane Chambers.
The reason why they held a civil marriage, Zuena Kirema and Moses Ssali wanted to protect their love, Maybe Bebe had fears that someone might snatch his beautiful girl.
”He said ‘we are getting married, what do you think? I am like, ‘we are not calling at least my parents or anyone?”
Neither of them had invited family, so she agreed to a civil wedding at the Registrar’s Office. Later on, the couple did a Nikah (Islamic marriage ceremony) in Jinja with their parents in attendance.
In 2008, Zuena and her husband Bebe Cool had misunderstandings and the two separated but later they reconciled after being away for 8 months after Bebe Cool promised to change his ways, and indeed he must have changed because since then the two are living together as husband and wife.
She went back to her father’s home in Jinja along with their two children by then. This was the time Bebe Cool was seen releasing emotional songs like Agenze, Bamugambe, crying for his wife who had left him.
Talking about her husband, Zuena says Bebe is a dream chaser if he wants something he does whatever it takes to get it; he doesn’t care what others say.
Zuena Kirema says Bebe Cool is a great dad to his children and a loving husband.
Zuena says every woman should strive to look good because beauty is fundamental. Zuena works out in the gym, jogging exercises on the treadmill and does sit-ups to maintain her looks, the treadmill helps her work out the entire body while the sit-ups help her tone her stomach muscles.
Zuena Kirema eats healthy foods and avoids fatty food. To keep her skin hydrated, she drinks plenty of water and fresh fruit juice.
She visits the salon once a week to have her hair treated. Once a month, she scrubs her body with apricot scrub to keep it soft like a baby and applies a facial mask once in two weeks.
When Weasel and the late Mowzey Radio released a song titled Zuena years back which was reportedly inspired by Radio’s love for Zuena back then, Bebe Cool was not impressed and immediately started a beef war that almost lasted till the death of Radio.
Concerning this matter, Zuena narrates that she had never met or been friends with Radio.
She was also surprised to hear about the song, the first time he met Radio, it was Bebe Cool who showed him to her, and she saw her at a distance.
The Zuena song originated from a fight Bebe and Radio had in one of the bars in the city, Bebe Cool seriously punched Radio. So, Radio though of how better he can take revenge, they very well knew that if you touch Zuena Bebe’s wife, it will hurt him severely.
So, he decided to sing about Zuena and indeed Bebe was hurt.
One day during a media interview where Radio and Zuena Kirema were involved, Zuena took the chance to ask Radio whether he knew her based on the song Zuena they released, but he said no! He did not know her neither has he met her anywhere but he wanted to take revenge to Bebe who punched him.
And this was the time Zuena Kirema and Bebe Cool separated which disturbed him a lot.
But of course, when having interviews out there he admits that he knew Zuena Kirema because he wanted to sell his music which registered a success. Bebe wanted to hit him but after some time, he gave up saying “he thinks he’s hurting me, but in other words, he’s marketing my name,” Bebe Cool later told Zuena.
In February 2009 when Zuena Kirema left her marital home after a disagreement with Bebe Cool, it is when we first got to see Bebe’s sensitive/emotional side in two songs titled Agenze and Bamugambe.
He blasted trolls who called his wife Zuena Kirema unproductive. It started when musician Bobi Wine won the Kyadondo East Parliamentary by-elections and social media blamed Bebe Cool’s wife for not inspiring her husband to serve society similarly.
The Ugandan singer did not take the trolls lightly and took to Facebook to set the record straight.
“I have seen a lot of people from Uganda attacking me and my wife over a local election in Uganda. To my understanding, it was a musician that was voted by a section of Ugandans. But it has come with demands and insults, some of which I deserve, but not my wife. I am writing this post as a whole,” Bebe Cool wrote on his Facebook page.
“You say my wife has not been constructive to me, that her job is to ask me for money to go to the saloon, buy cars, fly to the USA for delivery blablabla, and that that’s why you consider me underachieved. Now let me pump some sense into your heads,”
He went ahead and gave five reasons why he is proud of his wife.
The reason I work hard every day of the week is to see a smile on my wife and children’s faces whenever I wake up every morning. If expensive cars, good clothes and shoes, great health care abroad, and so on, are what it takes, I will do exactly those things for them till my last breath.
It is my choice to see Zuena Kirema change her hair every week, drive and expensive car, go abroad for any reason, buy new knickers weekly, not kneel before me while serving me (the reason I want her knees to remain as smooth as I found them 14 years ago).
The reason for all this is to ensure that she keeps me turned on.
Success and achievements are relative, While some of you believe that owning commercial properties that will ensure a steady return on investment for a lifetime.
I do not believe in announcing my possessions and milestones just to impress you. As long as the people that matter to me are aware of my worth, that is satisfactory enough for me. My wife is top on that list, bearing in mind that am the top ranking Ugandan artist presently and that can only be achieved by a man with a very strong woman behind him.
It would be wrong of me to blame the failure of once a top artist in keeping their spot at the top on lack of a strong woman behind them. I am aware that staying in the music business takes wit, determination, talent, commitment, focus, respect, lots of finances, strategy, clear mental health, but I also know that not many people possess these attributes. I would never in my conscious self-blame their lack of persistence in this competitive music business on their wives.
At this point, I want to reassure you that am very comfortable with my wife’s demands, those who know her well know she’s not demanding at all I force her to spend on herself most of the times… this makes me feel a complete man. Munviile Ku mukazi wange, mama wa baana bange. She is NOT comparable to any. I love you Zuena and I dedicate this new song to you.”