Monday, January 25, 2016

UGANDA’S 2015 ENTERTAINMENT SCENE

UGANDA’S 2015 entertainment scene was very vibrant with a number of memorable concerts, festivals, film premieres and other theatrical productions, among others.

As part of the events to commemorate international Women’s Day the play “The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield in the Bosnian War,” by the Romanian playwright Matei Visniec was staged at the National Theatre in Kampala from March 7 – 8, 2015.

The play tells the story of an American Harvard-trained psychologist, Kate, who is sent to Bosnia to help a team digging up mass graves and recording atrocities after the Bosnian war (1992 – 1995), and as a consequence is impaired by a variation of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

In play that was co-directed by Benoit Vitse and Bogdan Palie, rape was used as a form of military strategy aimed at demoralizing and humiliating the adversary — the play explores questions of belonging and loss of identity in this context of an inter-ethnic war.

The New Zealand play “Lullaby Jock: Silent Generations” - a collection of true stories, embellishments and fantastical tales as told by Jock Ferry and many others affected by World War Two was staged at the National Theatre in Kampala from March 13 – 14, 2015.

Solely performed by the playwright himself Simon Ferry - it’s based on the story of his father, Jock’s return from WW2. Like so many men of that generation he battled to contain his savage memories and deal with the fallout of coming home from their ‘brave journey.’ The soldiers who returned home continued fighting silently in their minds and hearts with pain and some resorted to alcohol to suppress the horrible memories. 

When Jock returned and became a teacher he was still a rogue, playing practical jokes, stealing pianos and motorbikes, and always singing opera to Italians and telling stories, riding pianos down the street, and drinking to quell the noise inside.

The British singer-songwriter and pop star Billy Ocean put up an energetic memorable live show in Kampala on April 2, 2015.

The 65-year-old Billy sent his fans in frenzy whenever he pulled slow cool dance stokes including the backslide during the concert held at the Victoria Hall, Kampala Serena Hotel.

Accompanied by his 8-member band Billy kicked off his show with his 1988 hit Tear Down These Walls. He followed it up with Bitter Sweet,  Stay The Night, Red Light Spells Danger, The Colour of Love, Mystery Lady and There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry), Cry Me A River, A Change Is Gonna Come and No Woman No Cry off the album Here You Are.

The band got a rapturous ovation after performing his 1984 favourite single Suddenly. His fans sang and danced along his other hits Loverboy, Get Outta My Dreams; Get Into My Car, When the Going Gets Tough (The Tough Get Going), and Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run).

Billy, who is fondly known as Billy Ochieng or Ochieng Billie in Uganda, concluded the concert with the improvised African Queen with lyrics of Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run).

Uganda's saxophonist Isaiah Katumwa celebrated his 20-year-music career where he hosted the legendary South African multi-instrumentalist and singer Hugh Masekela at a concert held at the Victoria Hall, Kampala Serena Hotel on May 8, 2015.

The jazz connoisseurs were treated to Masekela’s unique energetic and vibrant Afro-Jazz sound and Katumwa’s more laid back soulful jazz which he describes to as “African, smooth and divine.”

Katumwa played his songs Nzikiliza, Nakupenda Sana, Amaaso, Welcome, Sinza and Sun Rise. Masekela joined Katumwa on stage to co-perform the saxophonist’s old song Maama.

Masekela performed his fan’s favourite songs Grazin’ in the Grass, African Woman, Thanayi, Stimela, Khawuleza and Bring Home Nelson Mandela. 

A 2010 Dutch light play about death, love and family relations titled Waakhondje (Watchdog in English) by the Dutch playwright Peer Wittenbols was staged by Kampala Amateur Dramatics Society (KADS) at four different locations in Kampala from June 9 – 14, 2015. It was translated and directed by Marten Treffers, and produced by Thijs van den Heuvel.

The Watchdog story revolves around a widowed mother (Mother), who has taken to her bed, felled by grief at the death of her husband, and her two daughters (Maya and Eve) have taken over the guardianship of the household and stick to a clockwork routine.  Above all, they must ensure that mother isn’t upset by the slightest thing in case she starts crying again. Because if she does, she might never stop.

The Uganda National Museum and the French National Museum of Natural History, the Embassy of France in Uganda and the Alliance Française de Kampala held a Palaeoweek from June 13 – 18, 2015 at the Uganda National Museum in Kampala as a way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of palaeontological research collaboration between France and Uganda.

The main aim of the Palaeoweek was to raise public awareness on the importance of scientific research and natural resources in Uganda and to sensitize people on the importance of keeping up research in Uganda which was celebrated with three events: a round-table discussion; inauguration of a temporarypalaeontology exhibition; and a workshop for pupils.

The landmark achievement of this long standing palaeontological research collaboration dating back to 1985 was the discovery in 2011 near Napak volcano site in Karamoja (North Eastern Uganda) of the 20 million-year old skull of the hominoid Ugandapithecus.

Ugandapithecus was found at Napak XV, a fossil site near Iriri in Karamoja on July 18, 2011, by a team of researchers from Uganda and France led by Prof. Brigitte Senut and Prof. Martin Pickford, both from the French National Museum of Natural History.

The skull was found in volcanic ash which erupted between 19 and 20 million years ago on the slopes of Napak Volcano, between Alekilek and Lomorutoit. It is associated with abundant fossil plant and animal remains which provide information that the palaeoenvironment at that time (the Miocene Period) was forested.

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) successfully held the third edition of the Uganda Film Festival (UFF). Activities during the five-day festival that run from August 24 - 28, 2015 under the theme: “Celebrating the Quality of Ugandan Film” included a film forum and workshops, exhibition, entertainment cinema and open-air screening.

There were free screenings of all the 132 films that were submitted to UCC for UFF 2015 at five cinemas in Kampala. 

The happiest Ugandan filmmaker at the 2015 UFF Awards was Joseph Kenneth Ssebaggala for his film House Arrest won six awards: Best Screenplay; Best Sound; Best Sound; Best Feature Film; Film of the Year and Best Director. The Best Actress accolade was shared by Faridah Farshee Kuteesa (House Arrest) and Kalema Nishan (The Tailor).

The 8th edition of Bayimba International Festival of the Arts that run from September 18 – 20, 2015, featured productions, performances, presentations, a photo exhibition, and a fashion show delivered by local, East African and international artists at the National Theatre in Kampala.

The most outstanding and memorable live music collaboration was between the Ugandan Afro-folklorist and multi-instrumentalist Joel Sebunjo, Cameroonian Afro-folk queen Kareyce Fosto and the Malian Aly Keita the grandmaster of the balafon, a West African marimba-like instrument.

The Jazz legend Kirk Whalum and the R&B and soul diva Karyn White fired up the 8th Annual Jazz Safari that was held at the Kampala Serena Hotel on October 2, 2015.

Whalum, who received a standing ovation exhibited his mastery of the tenor sax played a number of his greatest songs including I’ll Always Love You – a hit he originally did with Whitney Houston in 2000.
White, who also belted out a string of her songs, received the loudest applause when she played the women’s anthem Superwoman. 

Olawale Gladstone Emmanuel Rotimi’s popular play Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again was staged by alumni and students of the Makerere University Department of Performing Arts and Film from October 10 – 11, 2015 at the National Theatre in Kampala.

The hilarious comic play tells the story of Major Rahman Taslim Lejoka-Brown, a retired army officer who abandons his successful cocoa business to take part in partisan politics so as to partake in ‘the politics of eating’ (sarcastically known as ‘for god and my stomach’ in Uganda) - not for the love of serving his people and patriotism but for amassing wealth and gaining fame.

Uganda’s top music outfit The Afrigo Band celebrated its 40th year of existence with a nostalgic VVIP concert on November 21, 2015 at Hotel Africana in Kampala. The band played its great memorable super hits much to the delight of its fans.

In its four decades of existence Afrigo has churned out 22 albums with over 200 songs – a discography that more less reads like the history of Uganda’s pop musical culture and identity.

The second Kampala International Theatre Festival (KITF) organised by the Sundance Institute East Africa and Bayimba Cultural Foundation was held from November 25 – 29, 2015, at the National Theatre in Kampala.

The exciting five day festival attracted eight plays: the Senegalese comic theatre and puppet production Moi, Monsieur et Moi (Me, Sir, Me!) written and solely acted by Patricia Gomis; Grave Robber Services (Uganda, 60min) by Kaya Kagimu Mukasa; Body Revolution (Iraq/Belgium, 40min); Marriage Chronicles (Uganda, 40min) by Sam Lutaaya; Room of Lost Names (Kenya, 40min) by Sitawa Namwalie; The Betrothal (Uganda, 90min); Waiting for Tain (Kosovo, 40min); and We Won’t Forget (Kenya, 105min) by Laura Ekumbo, William Mwangi, Brian Ngatia, Venessa Ombura and Wanjiku Mwavuganga.


Ends

Friday, October 16, 2015

KIRK WHALUM, KARYN WHITE LIGHT UP NILE GOLD JAZZ SAFARI

BY BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI

MUSIC lovers were taken on a trip down memory lane with pleasant old material by two American greats - the Jazz legend Kirk Whalum and the R&B and soul diva Karyn White at the 8th annual Nile Gold Jazz Safari that was held at the Kampala Serena Hotel on October 2, 2015.

Whalum hit the stage at 8:35pm with Luther Vandross’s 1988 hit Any Love. With his saxo-jazz-funk style he followed it up with Boyz II Men’s I’ll Make Love To You, Steve Wonder’s All I Do, Toni Braxton’s Breathe Again, Ascension, Underpaid, Grover Worked and Falling in Love with Jesus, among others.

Whalum joined the US-based Ugandan guitarist Mpambara on his song Onowuliranga.

Whalum exhibited his mastery of the tenor sax while he played I’ll Always Love You – a hit he originally did with Whitney Houston in 2000. He received a standing ovation after he blew the sax with passion and skill much to the satisfaction of the audience who had parted with Ushs200, 000 ($53.8) for a ticket. He had earlier on mesmerized his fans when he played the sax while lying down on his back.  

White came on stage at 10:18pm with her hit The Way I Feel About You. With her energetic dance moves and distinctive sultry soul voice she followed it up with Secret Rendezvous, James Brown’s funk song Sex Machine, Romantic, Love Saw It, Tears of Joy with Whalum blowing the sax, Hungah, The Way You Love Me, Can I Stay With You and I'd Rather Be Alone, among others.

White received the loudest applause when she played the women’s anthem Superwoman – after which she left the stage at 11:23pm but the crowd cried out to her and returned and bowed out after performing Everything Is Gonna Be Alright.

Among the House Band members that backed the two jazz and soul headliners were: Karl Vanden Bossche on percussions; Mark Walker on the keys; and the sweet harmonies were sung by Vula Malinga and Vanessa Haynes (the Lead Singer in Incognito). The illustrious Mo Pleasure was the music director.

The Ugandan pianist, singer-songwriter Stephen Kigozi was the curtain raiser at 8:07pm with a couple of cover songs and his own Don’t Try to Change Me, among others.

“This is my first time on the soil of Africa. It feels amazing and spiritual as well as celebratory,” White said.

On his part Whalum has performed in South Africa, Ghana and will play in Nigeria this October.

Music lovers today prefer to download music from the Internet and sometimes do not pay for it; a trend which Whalum says has a huge impact on the musicians’ royalties. “Until we are able to negotiate fair streaming royalties we are basically giving away our art for free. People don’t value the things they get for free. Music streaming can only be fair if we can be well compensated.”

As a result of low album sales most musicians around the world have resorted to constant live performances and festivals - a trend that is impacting on their creativity in the long run. “It is a good thing to be in good contact with your audiences but you may not be able to allocate adequate time for developing, writing, recording and work shopping (testing different sounds) if you are on stage all the time. Our source of income should be from royalties. We should stay at home and earn from our music and be creative,” Whalum told this blog.

“We are depending on live performances because people no longer buy our records. I am promoting my brand of music through live concerts and on my own label Karyn White Enterprises. When I am performing live I want my fans to feel my new music and experience. I am glad that I can still perform,” White said.

Born on July 11, 1958, Whalum is a smooth jazz saxophonist and songwriter. His music has been described as soulful, passionate and stirring - ranging from pop to R&B to smooth jazz to gospel with emphasis on melody.

“My music is made up of soul, gospel and jazz. I don’t combine these genres. This is where I come from. It is like describing the aspects of the work of a sculptor where you have to look at through different angles. So these are the aspects of what I do,” Whalum said.

He toured with Whitney Houston for more than seven years and soloed in her mega-hit single I Will Always Love You, the best-selling single by a female artist in music history.

In a career spanning three decades, Whalum has recorded film soundtracks and 25 solo albums including Cache, his first number 1 album, For You and his eclectic Gospel According to Jazz series, (Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4). Chapter 4 musically explores the convergence of jazz and gospel infused with rhythm and blues with musical messages of tribute, tragedy and triumph — musically illustrating God’s radical hospitality.

Whalum has received numerous awards and acknowledgements for his musical accomplishments. A twelve time Grammy nominee, he won his first Grammy award for Best Gospel Song (“It’s What I Do” - featuring Lalah Hathaway).

Although Whalum plays the tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, and flute he says the tenor is his best. And he is clearly identified by his rich tenor sound that leaves an indelible imprint on the listener. “Although I play the soprano as well the tenor sax is my favourite because it’s my voice.”  

White was born on October 14, 1965, in Los Angeles. She is a singer-songwriter, who was popular during the late 1980s and early 1990s. She is best known for her R&B singles: The Way You Love Me (1988), Secret Rendezvous (1989), the Billboard Hot 100 number one single Romantic (1991), Can I Stay With You (1995) and I'd Rather Be Alone (1995).

The accomplished musician entered the music history books with her smash hit song, the female anthem, Superwoman. The song sold over a million units, being certified Gold and named the Billboard R&B Song of the Year in 1989. She received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (Superwoman) in 1990. “This is a timeless anthem for women. It’s about loving and appreciating someone,” she says.

White, who plays R&B, soul and new jack swing released her self-titled debut album Karyn White in 1988. Her follow-up albums were Ritual of Love in 1991, Make Him Do Right in 1994.

“I would say that I play R&B, funk, soul and rock. I have two sides: the dance side and romantic side that I fuse together. I love Prince, Tina Turner and James Brown so I bring the energy of all these three,” White said.

White temporarily left the music scene in 1999 to start a family and bring up her daughter and only child Ashley – which the nomadic lifestyle of a professional musician could not afford. She returned with her album Sista Sista in 2006 and later Carpe Diem in 2012.

White’s considerable talents have extended well beyond music. She resides in Rocklin, California, where she runs a successful interior design and real estate business.

Ends.


Friday, October 2, 2015

BEBE COOL’S MUSIC KEEPS GROWING STONGER

BY BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI

MOSES Ssali whose stage name is Bebe Cool and one of Uganda’s active pop musicians is optimistic that the local music industry will bear dividends in the next two decades.

“Our music is so competitive and getting better each other day. But the fruits will be visible in the next 20 years for those that can sustain it. This is because it is a new industry and any new industry needs time to start realizing from it,” Ssali, the 38-year-old music star said.

Ssali, who is also known as Big Size is a singer-songwriter, band leader, record producer and actor.

Although he is referred to as one of the leading African reggae and ragga musicians from Uganda, Ssali insists that he is a jack of all trade in the musical genres.  “My music is confused because I play all the types and styles depending on where I am and the audience that I am performing for,” he says.

He started his career around 1996 in Nairobi, Kenya, but a few years later relocated to Uganda. He was one of the first artists affiliated with Ogopa DJs, a production house and record label in Kenya.

Ssali, who sings in Luganda, Swahili, and English rose to music stardom with his collabos Funtula with Bobi Wine and later Mambo Mingi with Halima Namakula. Some of his popular singles are Fitina, King of the Jungle and Never Trust No People.

His highly acclaimed Go Mama album released in June 2015 has songs like Go Mama, Love You Everyday, Everywhere I Go, Byebyo, African Girl, among others.

His Love You Everyday song was nominated at the recent prestigious 2015 MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA) in the Video of the Year category.

He says he has been doing singles ever since and if he was to compile them into albums they would add up to more than ten albums.

As to why he started a band and did not continue with CD backed lyrics that he began his career with, Ssali said: “Music grows as we grow and the delivery has to change as well. And it has to suit the age. I knew age would not allow me to jump around to track music of CD music, so I had to start slowly building my Gagamel band 15 years ago.”

Ssali named his band and his company Gagamel International after his the Jamaican music mentor Buju Banton alas Gargamel. “At the time when I was a youth Buju Banton delivered music that made a lot of sense to me in a different style that I had not heard before. So I got interested in him and music,” he said.

On August 7, 2015, he held Friends of Bebe Cool Concert at the Serena Kampala Hotel Victoria Hall.

Ssali was the headline act at the 2015 Viva con Agua (VcA) concert held at the National Theatre in Kampala on February 28, 2015. The proceeds went towards providing clean water for people in Northern Uganda.

“I believe in projects that have an attachment to the local people. There are people living in discomfort and if this project can bring change then I am glad to be part of it. I believe in charity and water and sanitation are very serious issues in Uganda,” Ssali said.

Ssali is among the best decorated Ugandan musicians. He won the Video of the Year award at the 2007Channel O Music Video Awards. He scooped several prizes at the Ugandan defunct Pearl of Africa Music Awards (PAM Awards) including Best Reggae Artiste/Group 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007, among others.

He has also won 14 accolades at the HiPipo Music Awards including: Best Reggae Song with Rema (Missing You) 2013; and Artist of the Year 2013, among others.

He has been nominated for several awards including the Kora All-African Awards in 2003 and 2005.

He has performed in the UK and the US, among others. He has featured in the Big Brother house twice.

Together with Kenyan duo Necessary Noize, Ssali formed a reggae group known as the East African Bashment Crew. They released one album, Fire that has two hit singles, Africa Unite and Fire. The group was nominated at the inaugural MTV Africa Music Awards in 2008.

Ssali survived the bomb blasts set by Somali Islamist terrorist group al-Shabaab at the Kyadondo Rugby Club in Kampala on July 11, 2010.

“It was basically total luck that I survived the bombs. I was not supposed to be there then the first bomb went off two rows behind me. The second one exploded 45 seconds later. As I crawled out I saw very many dead young people that I had never seen in my life. That is a picture that will not go away from my mind,” he says.

He shared the stage with several international stars at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday party that was dubbed “The 46664 Concert” in Hyde Park, London in England in June 2008. The underlying motive of the 46664 charity concert was to combat HIV/Aids, through 46664, the charity named after his Robben Island prison number that Mandela established in 2002.

“Performing at Mandela’s birthday was the biggest achievement any artist can ever have because it happened once and never again. He is a legend whose life is celebrated across the world today. We shall never get such a man or icon in our life time. So it was a pleasure for me for having been part of that birthday event,” Ssali says.

Born on September 1, 1977 in Kampala, Ssali is married to Zuena Kirema a television presenter, model and former Miss Uganda contestant. They have three children; two sons and a daughter, Alpha Thierry, Beata and Caysan respectively.

Ends.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

RUYONGA: THE GOSPEL HIP-HOP ARTIST WITH A MESSAGE

BY BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI

“THE music I play is hip-hop that is Christian inspired and hinges on the message of salvation and the perspectives that come with it,” says Edwin Ruyonga, Uganda’s leading hip-hop music and spoken word artist.

“I went in for gospel rap because I'm born again, Christ saved me and my music is an extension of who I am and my beliefs,” the 31-year-old rapper adds.

Ruyonga told New African that he thinks he is passing on his gospel message to the world: “I believe I am. I just try to come at it from the perspective of being me and being as honest as possible in my music and praying God does the rest, being an available and willing vessel basically.”

And to prove his point Ruyonga opened his live concert dubbed ‘Glory Experience’ at Imperial Royale Hotel on August 6, 2015 by reciting John Chap. 4 verses 6 to 24 in the Bible.

According to him, the message in John Chap. 4 verses 6 to 24 is that God is calling for his children to relate with him from a deep and true place. It's not about religion or social standing (The Jews and Samarians did not mix, and there were a lot of preconceived and pre-designated notions about the ‘only’ places one could worship God).

“The message is that the time is coming; it is actually here where you can worship God at anytime from anywhere as long as your heart, mind and spirit has set itself to focus on him,” he argues.

At the ‘Glory Experience’ concert Ruyonga accompanied by four instrumentalists and three vocalists played his songs: Pesa, Freedom, Inside My Heart, New Africa, Glory Fire, Muhuliire, RRUU, Time Check and Crossfire, among others.

Joe Kahirimbanyi joined him on stage for Mwana Wange and Annet Nandujja on Empisa. Among the musicians that made special appearances to show support to Ruyonga were Sitenda, Solome Basuuta and Sam Kimera.

He held the second concert dubbed ‘Fire Army’ at Makerere University main ground on August 8.

According to Ruyonga, rap music that was initially looked at as the “ghetto stuff” in the USA is an avenue for the disadvantaged. “Rap was not as much about being ‘ghetto music’ as it has been an opportunity for the disenfranchised to get their voice heard. And the disenfranchised or feeling disenfranchised is a universal problem. As long as anyone feels unheard or unconsidered, platforms like hip-hop will always be necessary,” he says.

Ruyonga observes that although African rap artists aped American rap artists right from the dressing to the lyrical content at the time the genre was taking root in Africa, they are now localizing hip-hop.

“That’s where those African rap artists learnt rap from, so it ‘must’ take time to evolve. Fela Kuti's sound is originally James Brown's American sound, Lingala, Congolese music which reggae itself is adapting from, all have foreign influences. Hip-hop in Africa is not going through a new thing. If people stopped to notice and not criticize, many African hip hoppers and rappers are indigenizing the African rap culture, but everything is a process. And there will always be criticisms, for everything,” he argues.

As to the importance of the spoken word in his music Ruyonga, says:  “Its importance is that it is the root of rap; it's where rap came from. Spoken word, griots, oral history, the old story-tellers, it’s all related.”

On the state of live music in Uganda today he observes that: “Live music will always be important, everything has its moments and sometimes things get overdone, but nothing will ever replace the live interpretation of music, electronic or otherwise, because it is created on the spot and cannot be duplicated.”

Ruyonga notes that gospel music is not competing favourably with other genres in Uganda because it’s in its initial stages. “We are still putting in the groundwork, we have the Michael Smiths, the Mali Musics and the Lecraes, but this is all just the beginning. We will just have to wait and see.”

Ruyonga was one of the pioneering hip-hop acts in Uganda, with his first group winning a nationwide music competition in 2000.

He was picked by Rawkus Records as one of the top 50 artists on the internet in 2007. Rawkus Records was responsible for jumpstarting the careers of Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common and Eminem.

Ruyonga, a gifted artist has gained respect in the hip-hop community worldwide for his compelling, hard hitting socially conscious, fresh and creative lyrics.

His powerful live shows consist of anywhere from a single backing Dee Jay to a full live band with equally engaging supporting acts.

According to Shirlene Alusa-Brown, “His (Ruyonga) rapping style is great, and he manages to mix energetic beats into his poetic rapping flow, to keep you on your feet and ready to make a difference in the world.”

Ruyonga, who is also an emcee and graphic artist and previously known as Krukid, was a member of the hip-hop trio A.R.M. (African Rebel Movement/Artists Representing the Motherland) that also included M.anifest (Ghana) and Budo. He was on DSTV's list in 2013 of African MC’s.

He lived in the United States from 2002 to 2012, sharing stages with many respected artists, including K’Naan, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, The Roots, Wu Tang Clan, Lupe Fiasco and many others. He won the Chicago Urban League Mic Check Contest’s Best Emcee Award and the C-U Local Music Award’s Best Hip Hop/R&B act multiple times.

He has so far released five albums: Rising in the Sun (2005); AFRiCAN (2007); S.O.S. (2011); Victory Music (2013); and Glory Fire (2015).

Ruyonga has collaborated with many renowned artists including Brother Ali and Slug from Rhymesayers; M.anifest; Magg 44; Enygma; Benezeri; Big Tril; Maurice Kirya; Don MC; Somi; and Tumi of Tumi and The Volume.

He is married to Sheila and they blessed with one daughter. 

Ends.



Friday, September 11, 2015

SALAVADO ENGINEERS LAUGHTER WITH HIS COMEDY

BY BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI

SALVADO’S fans who turned up in a big number at his one man comedy show returned home with painful ribs after laughing their heads off at his funniest one-liners and jokes.

Salvado whose real name is Patrick Idringi and one of Uganda's best known comedians put up a hilarious first ever one man comedy show in Uganda dubbed “Man from Ombokolo” held at the Victoria Hall, Kampala Serena Hotel on June 2, 2015.

The fact that Idringi’s show was sell out is proof that Ugandan comedy has matured to a level that the top echelon of society can now pay to watch a one-man show.

Comedy has also moved away from the infightings and break-ups that characterised the industry a few years back. It can now compete with other forms of entertainment like live music and theatre with equal measure.

As to the state of comedy in Uganda, Idringi observes: “Comedy is growing in Uganda. We haven’t yet exploited the full potential of comedy because we still lack professionalism in the industry as a whole. But we are getting there. The signs are that we are on the right track.”

On his part, fellow comedian Kenneth Kimuli, alias Pablo notes: “Comedy in Uganda is finally being accepted as an alternative form of entertainment especially in the corporate world. The task ahead is for the comedians to choose their words carefully, think about what they really want to say, make it as funny as they possibly can and they'll go places.”

Idringi’s cracking skits made up of old and new material tackled issues such as tribalism, alcoholism and drink driving, characteristics of his kinsmen in in his maternal ancestral home in Ombokolo in West Nile, toilet jokes, and a heavy dose of sexual innuendos.

In one skit he jokes about the national tax body employing only people from western Uganda in the juicy white collar section while those from northern Uganda are night watchmen or security men running after tax evaders.

In another he takes on people who go on farting in lifts unconvincing other users.

He does not spare the Indians who are known for haggling over everything will not stop at paying half the price for a pencil as longer as the rubber is removed.

He joked that he is accused of telling half-truths from Ombokolo and then exaggerating them for his selfish ends.

Although he is a master of suspense, Idringi’s short coming was that he would start a joke, skip it to another and maybe return to an earlier one – leaving his fans confused.

Idringi was accompanied by the Ombokolo Boys, Myko Ouma, Lydia Jazmine, Janzi Band and Bebe Cool with his Gagamel band.

He says that he decided to dub the show “Man from Ombokolo” as a way of introducing himself to his fans through his home roots. “Because it was the first of its kind I needed to introduce myself to the people. There is no better way to introduce yourself than to talk about where you come from. Ombokolo is the place where my mother comes from in West Nile.”

As to the sex innuendos Idringi he said that was the day’s lineup. “My show wasn’t made up of only sex jokes. It just happens that the funniest jokes were about sex and these are the ones people remember the most.”

A telecommunications engineer by training Idringi, who is also an actor, is co-founder and director of The Crackers – one of the leading a stand-up comedy outfits that has weekly shows at Laftaz Comedy Lounge in Centenary Park in Kampala.

Idringi left MTN Uganda in 2011 where he had worked as a switch engineer to tap into and concentrate on his passion for comedy which he had realized in 2009 after coming second in the M-NET reality TV series dubbed “Standup Uganda.” He realized he could eke a living out of his funnyman personality.

Idringi’s decision to quit his engineering job has paid off because he has become one of the most sought after comedians and emcees to perform at major shows and events in and outside Uganda, he is also the face and voice of many multinational companies used in their print and broadcast advertisement.

Idringi does not regret abandoning an engineering career for comedy. “I don’t regret all because what I have achieved with comedy I would not have achieved eve half if I was still doing engineering.”

“I went into comedy because I love to be challenged. One thing with comedy is that you have to come up with new comedy nearly every day. That kind of challenge is what intrigues me,” Idringi said.

Idringi says his form of comedy is about him observing a situation, relating to it and finally narrating it.

Kimuli, describes Idringi as quite quirky and original. “He thinks of things that are funny and strange yet real life experiences. Some people might misinterpret it as a warped sense of humour but he makes you laugh at things that many people are afraid of or offended by.”

Milena Veselinovic describes Idringi's type of comedy as “a blend of laugh-out-loud humour and cheeky charm” which even landed him inside the pages of the Vogue magazine edition of May - June 2012.

“I am not beautiful, I am not glamorous, but I can tell a story and this makes me attractive.” He, who brings emotions to his audience, wants to create a legacy for his country. “I don’t want to be rich or famous; I just hope to inspire many others,” he told Vogue magazine.

Idringi attributes his success to his openness to talk about subjects such, love and sex. “Sex is not a taboo. Sex is something everybody does except that they don’t have the courage to talk about it openly. That is why the jokes are funny because they relate to them.”

“We're not very good at talking openly and honestly about sex in this country and certainly the presence of laughter is a useful tool to start an interesting, and maybe even helpful conversation about our greatest taboos as long as it's within the limits,” Kimuli notes.

Idringi was born on February 14, 1985 to Lawrence and Joyce Dawa in Mulago Hospital in Kampala.

In March 2013, Idringi’s girlfriend Daphne Frankstock gave birth to their first baby girl named Abigail Idirigi.

Idringi loves people, soccer, playing pool, music, movies and he hates being hated…

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

UGANDA HOLDS 2ND EURO-AFRICAN KAMPALA FILM FESTIVAL

BY BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI

MOTORBIKE taxis commonly known as boda-bodas are playing a major role in Uganda’s transport system but at the same time they are also among the main cause of road accidents and as a means of crime.

The streets of Kampala in particular are always grid-locked and congested with traffic and the fastest way to beat the notorious jam is to jump on a boda-boda and weave your way to your destination.

A new Ugandan film titled The Boda Boda Thieves (‘Abaabi ba boda boda’ in Luganda), by Donald Mugisha and James Tayler attempts to tell the daily life of those who depend on these machines in an urban setting both as a means of income and transport. The men who ride these bikes have a reputation for being tough hustlers.

The Boda Boda Thieves, a 90-minute social drama released this year focuses on adolescent Abel and his poor family. Hope for a better life has led his family from a small Ugandan village to the country’s capital Kampala. A boda-boda, bought from family savings is the only hope of pushing them out of poverty.

The poor family’s hopes of finding a better life in the city have turned into a nightmare of daily subsistence. When young Abel is first entrusted with the family boda-boda it isn’t too long before things go wrong.

On his first day of riding, Abel and his crook buddy realize they can make a lot more money by stealing bags and cellphones off pedestrians than through honest rides. After the first day’s big take, though, Abel finds his boda boda stolen, setting him on a frantic scramble through the streets of Kampala to get the bike back before it is stripped and sold for parts.

The film is a unique portrait of desperation. Through the eyes of Abel we gain a deep insight into an urban African society and its dark sides. With him we experience how city residents and newcomers remain strangers to each other. The film reveals that traditional values can keep societies together; still they have to be reinterpreted within a modern urban context to offer a starting point for a more hopeful future.

The Boda Boda Thieves is a homage and tribute to the great Italian neo-realist film The Bicycle Thief directed by Vittorio De Sica in 1948. The film is not a remake but an original work freely inspired by the classic. It however endeavours to remain true to the spirit of its model and updates realism with a youthful edge in the middle of Africa.

The Boda Boda Thieves was among the 20 European and African long feature films, including Euro-African co-productions funded by the EU-ACP Film Programme, 10 African short films produced by Maisha Film Lab, special screenings for schools, and video clips of the 2015 European Year for Development that featured at 2nd Euro-African Kampala Film Festival that run from June 16 – 27, 2015 at Cineplex Cinema, Oasis Mall in Kampala. Tickets sold for only Ushs3, 000 ($0.87), per movie.

The festival was presented by the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Uganda, the Embassies and Cultural Institutes of the European Union Member States, in partnership with the Embassy of Norway, Maisha Film Lab, Garage Films and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and with the operational coordination by Alliance Francaise Kampala.

The Euro-African Kampala Film Festival is a platform to market European, African and Ugandan films. It shows the cultural diversity and richness of Europe and Africa, and gives opportunity to discover young talents from Uganda and other African regions.

The festival aims to create a platform for a dialogue about recent film productions with the citizens of Kampala. The festival is expected to enhance the opening of doors for possible collaborations between European and African professionals.

The festival opened with the Italian comedy film La Nostra Terra (2014) directed by Giulio Manfredonia. Set on a tomato farm and screened in Italian with English subtitles the film shows the power that the Mafia still hold over some sections of the Italian society.

The land of Alfio Bonavita, who 30 years ago was forced give away his farm to the local Mafioso Nicola Sansone, is now made available by the State to a group of people that has formed a cooperative. Although their agricultural sense is poor and their know-how in farming non-existent, they start working the land, boycotted daily by unseen powers that try to hamper their activity in every way.

They apply for help to the anti-Mafia board that sends over Filippo, very competent in anti-Mafia laws and regulations but completely inexperienced in handling practical problems. He is petrified at first by the gigantic task he’s facing and has to resist the urge to just clear the field, but the curious dynamics of this peculiar troop keeps him going.

Soon Filippo will have to face his own fears, motivated by his sense of duty and one thing that keeps him is his budding sentiment for beautiful Rossana, the soul and head of this incongruous anti-Mafia gang.

The other films included GriGris (Mahamat Saleh Haroun, Chad, 2013, 101m); the German award-winning drama Age of Cannibals (Johannes Naber, 2014, 1h 33m); Morten Tyldum’s film The Imitation Game (UK, 2014, 114min); Daniel Gordon’s 90-minute documentary film The John Akii-Bua Story: An African Tragedy (UK, 2008); De Marathon (Diederick Koopal, Netherlands, 2012, 107min); Marussia (Eva Pervolovici, France, 2015, 82min); O Heroi (Zeze Gamboa, Angola, 2004, 97min); and Scarred (Judy Kibinge, Kenya, 2015, 60min), among others.

Building on the success of the first Euro-African Kampala Film Festival in 2014, this year's edition presented an enriched formula with more countries represented, more guests, professional workshops, master-classes on scriptwriting, discussions, projections for schools, and even a Wi-Fi Lounge where viewers were able to sit and discuss, read and browse the internet to deepen their knowledge of the themes raised by each film.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

UGANDANS TREATED TO A MIXED GRILL AT WORLD MUSIC DAY FETE

BY BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI

MUSIC lovers who turned up for the 33rd World Music Day fete at National Theatre in Kampala on June 20, 2015 were treated to a rich variety of genres ranging from Afro-Fusion to hip-hop.

The lineup included four Ugandan groups: the multi-instrumentalist Daniel Okiror; the R&B and soul artist Jemimah Sanyu with her band UNIT 446; Undercover Brothers, an acoustic-Afrobeat and R&B music duo composed of guitarist and vocalist Jay K. Mulungi and vocalist Timothy Kirya; the soul-jazz funk songstress Sandra Nankoma aka Sandy Soul with her Sandy Soul band; and the hip-hop, urban gospel rapper and spoken word artist Edwin Ruyonga.

The guest performer was Makadem (Ohanglaman) the talented musician and vibrant performing artist from Kenya.

Accompanied by his band, Pure Aroma Africa, Okiror, an Afro-Fusion artist played five of his songs: Ongolia; Mam Ijali; Big Big Bang; Ai Ai (Cry of the Children) and Edeke Ka.

In Mama Ijali, Okiror acknowledges the importance of the Almighty God in his life, crediting him as the source of the power behind his enormous talent. Together with his friend Olith Reteggo who features on the original song, they reiterate how many people pursue money, power and sex beyond human dignity. He reaffirms his desire never to forget the virtues of his creator.

Ongolia is the cry of an African orphan. A desperate feeling of being all alone with no one caring. Okiror gives his own life story, having lost all his parents as an infant. To an orphan, a good life or future is not a normal possibility. Life is in blues, hopelessness and low self worth. He stresses how being an orphan has tormented him all his life, trying all possibilities looking for a way out in a poverty stricken community. Struggling for all his needs ranging from food, clothes, education and shelter.

Based in Mombasa, Kenya, Okiror, who sings in Ateso, Luganda, Luo, Swahili and English, has three albums to his credit: One Lover (2009); Light in Africa (2012); and his 2014 album Emuria Koliai (‘Let The Seed Grow’ in the Ateso language).

Sanyu played eight songs such as Kankusute; Ziba Amaso; I am a Ugandan; Bandage; Amaaso Go Googera and This Love is so Strong.

As to the importance of World Music Day, Okiror said: “We as artists can’t exist without a stage. It makes us to be human and important. Music brings us together in order to share what is happening in society. It is an outlet that allows stress relief and our musical beauty giving people life.”

On her part Sanyu said, “As a musician, World Music Day is a meeting point for musicians. It is a celebration of our culture because we had artists from different parts of Uganda and Kenya.”

Founded in France in 1982, Fête de la Musique (the Festival of Music) better known as World Music Day has been a tremendous, popular event free and open to all. Its purpose is to celebrate lively music and showcase a variety of musical customs and genres.

For the 33rd edition, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication chose to extol the virtues of togetherness and of exploring and sharing different cultures. To do this, the Ministry chose as its theme “Living Music Together.

The revelers shared a moment of togetherness, while enjoying concerts put on by amateurs and professionals alike. The event is also meant to inspire novices to discover music and perhaps learn to play it themselves.

In Uganda, World Music Day and is a hands-on, collective, festive event for the public organized by the Alliance Française de Kampala in collaboration with the Bayimba Cultural Foundation and the Uganda National Cultural Centre.

World Music Day has grown to over 120 countries and 700 cities around the world, transforming the event into an iconic international music affair. For its 33rd edition, the festival continued its expansion by taking to the Internet, the site of so many creations and exchanges, and eliminating all borders through the use of various digital platforms.

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