By Bamuturaki Musinguzi
Published November 10, 2016
An event that seeks to strengthen grassroots and world music in Uganda has unveiled four budding musicians in Kampala.
The musicians presented during the 5th annual Pearl Rhythm Festival at National Theatre on October 29, 2016 were Bantu Clan, Derrick Komakech, Gordons Mugoda alias Wake, and Jaq Namataka Deweyi.
The youngsters were finalists in the Stage Coach programme of Pearl Rhythm Foundation that hosts the festival to showcase the work of its mentees to the public every October after they have gone through a two-month mentorship, including studio production for the Pearl Rhythm compilation album and rehearsals.
So this was how Jaq Namataka Deweyi, Gordons Mugoda alias Wake, Derrick Komakech and Bantu Clan got the opportunity to perform to the public in the Ugandan capital.
Bantu (acronyms from Brothers Alliance Navigating Towards Unity) Clan, an indigenous hip-hop band that blends local and western sounds with rap and hook-laden conscious lyrics, played several songs– Kikunta, Yudah, Ndaikara, Ndi Nziliwe and Remedy–the one that stood out was Kapanka; the song rallies members of the public to unite in bringing up children and fighting poverty. It is inspired by the rising numbers of unemployed youth, high poverty levels and poor parenting. Its hook is derived from the Busoga region in eastern Uganda.
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On his part, visual and performance artist Komakech who is passionate about oral literature, played Pigwaga Cwe! (My Tears Roll), Minâ€™Lapin (Mother of a child), Roâ€™Ogik (The Dry Season is Over) and Kampala Kalele in his Acholi language.
Pigwaga Cwe! laments the injustice done to Komakechâ€™s family by the custodians of communal land in the village after the former moved to Kampala in 1991. Komakech, in the song, shares his pain as he seeks advice from Eriang, the clan head, on how to handle the matter.
Deweyi, who describes her music as African contemporary music that blends traditional music with an urban touch, gave the audience a taste of her songs Naabirya (You canâ€™t eat and have your cake), Pit of Love, Sun in the Rain, Okawamunabi (Donâ€™t Lose Hope) and Christmas Song. She has so far recorded two albums titled Sun in the Rain and Yolele that were released in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
Then came Mugoda, a Christian rapper and spoken word artist with a passion for African heritage who has recorded a couple of songs and poems which include 256 and Tinsobola. He performed his songs Abantu Bâ€™eira, Tinsobola, Musaiza Weka and a poem titled Sengejja.
Abantu Bâ€™eira is a Lugwere phrase that means predecessors. The song talks about some of the values that defined the Bagwere people, pointing out how many of these values have been sidelined in the face of modernity.
But the festival wasnâ€™t just about mentees. Some established artists also graced the occasion with their performance. They included Happy Kyazze, Lily Kadima, Sylvester and Abramz, Myko Ouma and Baximba Waves.
As to how it feels being among the finalists in this yearâ€™s Stage Coach Season 3, Chimey Buka of Bantu Clan says, â€œItâ€™s an honour and privilege to join a fast growing authentic music family and itâ€™s always a step that I have always wanted Bantu Clan to take so that we remain rooted instead of getting lost in the Kampala music industry. It is real when they say that your surroundings and the minds you hang out with influences you. I am glad we made it through this transformative experience.â€
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Deweyi says that she had been waiting for this kind of stage since she started doing music professionally about three years ago.
â€œThe Pearl Rhythm Festival stage has been around for five years now, itâ€™s an established and respected event,â€ she says. â€œFor me to qualify to be part of it means that I am now a qualified musician. This comes with many opportunities for me; opportunities that would take me to another level as a musician.â€