Remembering Uganda pre-Covid19
Peoples. A time like this a year ago, I was performing at Bayimba International Festival – Uganda. If we didn’t have Corona, I would be there. I love Uganda. I love the food, the people, the music and the cultural heritage that is still intact. I once wanted to buy land in Fort Portal but then wishes are not horses.
I love Kampala night life in particular. A tall cold Nile beer in the company of Gisa Jr Gong Brian is exactly the chaos you need in your life. My venturing into the Ugandan music scene started with random performances at Mish Mash some 7 or so years ago. I remember a day when I arrived at the city, and word went around that I would be performing in the evening. I was suprised at the turn up. Mame N’Diack Thiam came with the talking drum. Ras Brown became the MC. When I played a remix of “Mpenzi, Hakuna matata, kila kitu kitawa sawa” some Kenyan waiters walked up to me and refilled my drink.
Another time we did a crazy party at Jantien Zuurbier – we even slaughtered a goat to celebrate electronic music. Sabar Percussion Uganda turned up with a lorry of instruments. We had a ball with Isje Nnafie. Jim Collins KA was there too. Then came the roving Santuri East Africa after parties – from the then club iguana to Big Mikes Sports Bar and Grill – what a gwan with Kiwanuka Hakim – soon father to be, welcome to the club.
To keep the vibration alive, we started Hatari Voltage Kampala an underground party that ushered the afro/electro music rennaisance to the city of hills. Tilapia in Bunga was the place. Crisio Van Dongen and Cheeko Dread blessed the community. Even Ife Piankhi was a high priest of performance. Henry Mujunga aka Saint Mzili, I remember you completely. I won’t disclose the famous Hatari Voltage monkey.
But why does Uganda hold such a special place in the music scene of East Africa? Well, in a recent converation with another Kenyan artist, there seems to be a healthier environment for the arts and culture in Uganda. To begin with they have indigenous food, including the legendary Rolex, to feed the artists. Every quarrel begins on an empty stomach.
Forget the recent laws being proposed to regulate the arts, I have more freedom and less judgment of my artistry when performing in Uganda. I bring out the best of me. Nairobi, and the Kenyan scene gives you intense pressure to be a mainstream artist. They even ask you why don’t you play like DJ xxx or yyy.
Ugandans appreciate authentic artistry at large, they have equal support for their local artists . Last year, I played the closing party of Bayimba Festival alongside Dennis Mwaura aka DJ Mura KE. We smashed it dry, and Faisal Kiwewa the festival director opened a happy hour at the bar at 4AM in the morning. Someone also got pregnant.
Above all, Uganda’s signature kindandari music is the true and honest definition of East African Dance hall. Keep doing what you doing. I miss you and I can’t wait to reunite and play you the amazing sounds of bengatronics!
Untill then, viva comrades! #Afrogoodness #AfroLiberation
[Originally shared on Facebook on 15 Aug 2020]
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