Wednesday, September 23, 2015



“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. 


Friday, September 11, 2015



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…


Wednesday, September 2, 2015



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.