UGANDAN MUSIC

I have watched and listened to countless interviews on both TV and Radio where musicians are hosted and they appeal to journalists to always play and support what they called “Ugandan Music”

According to majority of the artistes in Uganda, “Ugandan Music” is not given enough airplay on Ugandan TVs and Radios, they also believe that they are not appreciated as much as they should be and that they are not given the respect that they deserve by both the public and media.

Ugandan artistes also accuse DJs and media personalities of fronting music from Nigeria, South Africa, Jamaica and Europe at the expense of our own home grown Music, which they feel is another setback towards the Uganda Music industry and consequently a contribution to what they called the downfall of Music in Uganda.

In defense, Media personalities always say that they only play music that is of good quality, and has nice videos which according to them, many artistes in Uganda lack lack this in their music. DJs also defend themselves by saying that the sound of some songs is lacking, the lyrics are immature and so they can’t just play anything just because it is sang by a Ugandan irrespective of its quality. However, the artistes say that they have since improved on the Videos and Quality of sound in their music and so they deserve to be given enough airplay.

There was a time here in Uganda especially in the late 1990s downwards when it is largely Congolese and South African music that used to dominate the airwaves, with some “Kadongo Kamu” from artistes like Herman Basudde, Paul Kafeero, Livingstone Kasozi, Willy Mukaabya and others. But still Congolese “Lingala” and SouthAfrican “Kwaito” were the most played. This was also evidenced in the Music festivals where artistes from outside Uganda dominated shows in Nakivubo Stadium and people like Yvonne Chaka Chaka were even crowned the title of “Princess of Africa” by Ugandans, for her good music, a title that she still holds today and is proud of.

Cindy

However, some Ugandans started something new which is called “Ragga” as opposed to the “Kadongho Kamu” music that had defined local Music here. Therefore, people like Shanks Vivie D, Peter Ssematimba, Menton Summer, Steve Jean, Ragga Dee, Simon Base Kalema,Rasta Rob MC and others brought a new sound with songs like “Kakokolo,” “Bundu,” “Silikawo Baby,” and many others. Later on, other artistes like Jose Chameleon, Red Banton, Mad Tiger, Bebe Cool, Napoleon, Bobi Wine also came up with Music in the late 1990s paving way for the Music we have today.

Many times, people have kept on asking whether we have a Unique sound to define our Music. This is because when you listen to Music from Congo,you realize that there is a way that it is unique due to the instruments in there, the ‘Soukous’ sound is unique. Music from South Africa and Nigeria is also unique. In fact of late, South Africans have invented a new style of Music called “Amapiano” meaning The Pianos. Nigerian Music also has those instruments in almost every song that you listen to despite the genre which makes it unique.

In Uganda though, some songs sound Jamaican, other musicians sing like Nigerians and others sound like Congolese and yet many fuse in South African beats which makes it so hard to properly define what a typical Ugandan song is – I mean there is no common characteristic at all.

This therefore brings me to the question of what the true definition of Ugandan music is;

  • Is it Music sang in Uganda or Music that is sang about Uganda?
  • Is it Music sang by only Ugandans?
  • Do we consider songs sung in English by Ugandans as part of Ugandan Music?
  • Is Ugandan Music, Music that is only sang in the local languages found in Uganda?
  • Are songs that fuse Nigerian, Jamaican and South African beats also considered as part of Ugandan Music?

The questions above should be discussed adequately if we are to forge a nationally accepted version of what Ugandan Music really is. Audio producers also have to be more creative and professional to avoid copying sounds from elsewhere because the authenticity of sound is lost in that way. Our local musical instruments should also be fused into the music to bring out our culture and uniqueness. I beg to move.

By Vincent Sserunkuma

A Professional teacher and Writer.

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