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 Fran├žaise 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