By Bamuturaki Musinguzi
Published May 10, 2013
Samuel Ibanda of Uganda may be better known as a dancer and choreographer but his “90 Minutes Art Encounter” on February 15, 2013 at the National Theatre in Kampala also presented him as a musician in his own right: He performed 11 of his own Afro-beat, Salsa and Soul songs; eight from his two albums and three single releases.
He played songs such as “Come on home” that extols the importance of expressing one’s feelings for the ones one loves in their own lifetime instead of crying out ‘come on home’ once they are gone. He also performed “Esente” that mentions how money controls humans.
The others were: “Sued for More”, “Sideways Gravity”, “Nkali Kumana”, “Mawe mawe”, “Bambi Lovinia”, “Danger”, “So Much”, “Life of a Battery” and “Kona Dance”.
Ibanda, who was on vocals and dance, was accompanied by a six-person band with Joe Coda on rhythm guitar.
The guitarist Michael Ouma and Grace Kateete were guest artists. Kateete performed two of her own songs, “Malaika” and “Ndi Nowange”.
Barbara Upoki and Walter Ruva performed contemporary African, Latin, and hip hop dances.
“This concert was a platform for me and other artists who play the type of music I perform. They also included up and coming artists,” Ibanda told ArtMatters.Info after the show.
The evening also featured live poetry by Patrick Masa Birabi accompanied by Michael Ouma on acoustic guitar. Birabi presented three poems; “Under Another Jambula Tree”, “I Remember Bongole Lutaaya” and “Akabulwana”.
The concert showcased the vibrant but underappreciated contemporary arts in Africa that also included cinematography and dance.
The event allowed participants to share in a personal and unique experience of creation and creativity, of struggle and passion, of beauty in the face of adversity.
Ibanda, who was born in 1982, is also a song writer, actor, dancer and choreographer. He is a dance instructor and director of the dance company, Latin Flavour Uganda. He has performed in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Finland, Holland, Denmark, and Germany with his company.
Ibanda released his first single,“Danger”, in 2007. The debut eight-track-album, “How I Feel”, came out in 2009. The second album, “So Much”, was released in 2011. He has performed in Denmark and Germany with his band.
He held his debut concert in 2010. His second show, dubbed “A Man’s Art”, was held in May 2011, where he was backed up by the Soul Beat Africa band.
He has appeared in films made in Uganda such as THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND and THE JOHN AKII-BUA STORY: AN AFRICAN TRAGEDY.
Ibanda says he finds little problem combining dance, music and acting.
“With dance, and singing I rehearse every day. I use an hour or two in the mornings to improve my voice and then four hours for dancing. And an hour for teaching dance lessons or more. Then acting is quite one of the three as I will act whenever I get a role to play. Otherwise, I see all three as one, making it manageable since for me it’s the best way to express myself,” he says. “I got into music to express my emotions. That’s how I started writing my first song, “Danger. From then on, I found happiness in music. And of course being around musicians has also played its part in my career.”
As to why his kind of music is not appreciated as much as hip hop, he said: “Most times it is very difficult to get people who relate to my kind of music. I blame it mainly on the FM radio stations in Uganda that prefer babble gum music and ignore the other genres.”
Ibanda observes that there is more consumption of live music in Uganda today. “There is more consumption of live music and performance which artists have to embrace. And I believe it’s going to give artists and musicians the right to control more of the music that is played.”