Tuesday, November 30, 2010

WHY MAURICE KIRYA'S RFI WIN MATTERS

It is almost a month late but that does not diminish in the least Ugandan musician Maurice Kirya's feat of being the 2010 RFI (Radio France International) musical discovery. Yes, Ugandans who have listened and watched Maurice Kirya grow up from an unsure 16 year old musician to the vastly self confident 25 year old he is today will find it a bit strange that some musical audiences may consider Kirya a newcomer in the business. Kirya has been just on the periphery of massive fame in Uganda for so long that his name (the Kiryas' interestingly are three singing brothers in vastly different musical styles) is one all those with a short attention span for Ugandan music vaguely recognise.

Once upon a time, Maurice was one of the unpaid, struggling young musicians who was haggling to have 15 minutes on any stage that would have him. This blogger remembers going to watch Maurice perform at Steak Out about six years ago. (Maurice has been around that long and then some longer. Officially, he lists 10 years as his the time he has spent honing his craft). That Steak Out performance this blogger watched was tumultuous to say the least. At the time of that show, Maurice was actively in the process switching from a 'CD musician' (as many Ugandan musicians are) to performing live. As in going on stage and insisting that he play his guitar or sing without the aid of playback CDs.

Most Ugandan bars and restaurants, though they play host to so many musical performances, are actually far from equipped to handling concert performances. Or live shows. Many are not built with any thought put into the kind of acoustic feedback they will produce. In fact, if you have the chance to patronise most of them, I doubt in the beginning, they ever thought they would host musical performances. One of the few 'legendary' bars however that seemed planned with that in mind was the defunct DV. 8-at which Maurice and nearly all our notable musical performers first learned to perform 'live.' These bars and restaurants, when it comes to stocking up on musical equipment, believe the bigger the speaker, the better-and no, they do not have to be first hand speakers-even Katwe wonders can work. So you can understand the fights that were likely to erupt when some singer decided that they did not want to sing to their CD but wanted to 'do it live.'

MK's win means so much more
That was the atmosphere I watched and attended my first Maurice Kirya live performance at Steak Out, about six years ago. What remains from all those years ago is the memory of the joy songs like Stop brought to the audience, as Maurice would launch into it. Even then, Maurice already to some extent had this core group of fans (you couldn't strictly call them 'groupies' ) infused with an unbelievable volunteer spirit, who were 'fighting' with the Steak Out owners to make sure Maurice's show went ahead without a hitch as much as possible. It was one of the first shows where I first started getting intrigued with what goes on back stage, beyond the lights and the glamour, we see on the stage-I started wanting to know how it is all put together.

Maurice Kirya comes from that sort of background. The very rare kind of Ugandan musician, well, actually any artist-who with very few concessions and compromises-manages to bring his 'dream' to mainstream success without it losing its essential quality. Once upon a time, Maurice had a dream of Ugandans appreciating live music performers. He had to adjust that dream to incorporate the rest of the world-because after three or four years of struggle, he began to realise that he would never get enough Ugandan music fans to support him financially. He would need more fans. But unlike his brother Saba Saba or Krazy Native (Alex Kirya) who decided to fly out to the USA to get that audience, in another audacious piece of bravado, Maurice decided to 'make' the audience out there come to him. How did he do that?

Essentially, with periodic tours abroad, Maurice became one of the first Ugandan musicians to realise the potential of modern online media that was coming up and exploit them. From MySpace to Facebook to Reverbnation, search for Maurice Kirya and you will find him there. Maurice tried it all out and soon figured a way out to grow his audience, one member at a mouse click participation until today, Kirya's pages on those fora are some of the most active. This is one of the secrets of Maurice's 'underground success' and why when you ask a Ugandan music lover about a musician who can ably represent what is happening in Ugandan music, a musician they would proudly call Ugandan and who they least fear accusations of plagirism might be levelled against, once critical scrutiny is directed at them-out of five names, Maurice Kirya is likely to pop up. 

So is this why Maurice Kirya's RFI win matters so much? As a vote for originality, for daring, for staying true to one's essentials? Yes, and so much more. Because MK's win is not his alone. It is a massive vote (for Kirya won through votes of listeners of RFI) for Ugandan music. For as much the potential of what it will be as what Ugandan music is right now. Not just for the last 10 years of MK's hard work but the nearly 30 years of renaissance that Ugandan music has been going through. The RFI Award confirms that despite all our issues, our problems, and shortfalls, something magical is brewing in Uganda and music is leading the way.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Who Should do the Clothes Off Remix with Michael Ross?


Ugandan musician Michael Ross (on Facebook you can find him as Michael Ross Kakooza) has confirmed to this blog that there will be a Clothes Off Remix. The musician, in a quite extensive interview said, “I’m going to do remix. Fans have been asking for it. I’ll be doing it with a female musician though I can’t you right now which female musician. Just wait!” 

Clothes On Michael Ross
The Clothes Off song, and especially the video, caused quite a stir when it when it was released earlier this year. Some music fans and purists thought Michael had gone a bit too far with the sexuality. If that was the case, it will be interesting to listen and hear to Clothes Off with a female voice in it, because Michael says, “In the remix, the girl will sing her version of Clothes Off for a guy.” Imagine that! 

Pressed though Michael was, he would not reveal who is going to feature on the Clothes Off remix. My money would be on Iryn Namubiru or Cindy (Cinderella Sanyu). Yes, I have left Juliana Kanyomozi, though she should be a hot contender, simply because she is quite caught up at the moment with her Tusker Project Fame 4 judge gig duties. And I have never heard a Juliana song where she came out with raw heat sexuality, unlike Iryn and Cindy who have quite a few in their catalogue. In Iryn’s case I could cite such ‘local’ scorchers like her Begombeko (in which she dares any chic to try and take her man...), her Sweet Kid collabo Gwe Ansanira, which just drips the desire of requited love! But then I have heard tracks (too little heard in Uganda) like Do You Ever Think of Me off her Yo’no album that ooze red hot sexuality enough to put her in the Toni Braxton league. 

Cindy, well, since she broke away from Blu3 in 2008, has been on a run that is remarkable. Gone is the shy, self conscious Cindy who sometimes would not utter a word in Blu3 interviews, to the chic who belts out Ayokyayokya and One and Only (which however much I tried, I just fell for!). Cindy has those hiccup cries enough to ensure her Clothes Off version would send the remix shooting up the charts, but then that’s just one opinion. 

So am I being unfair to Juliana? I mean there is no doubt that when it comes to emoting, on the Ugandan scene, she still has no challenger. I can’t count Samalie Matovu yet in the race until I have listened to an album length Samalie. So why shouldn’t Juliana be counted in the ‘race’ to do the Clothes Off remix, if her TPF 4 schedule allowed? Because as much as I’m in awe of Juliana’s vocal chops, I have not yet listened to a Juliana song where she is overtly, even aggressively, sexual. She has proven over and over she can do duets that are irresistible (if you have never listened to her Kidum duet Haturudi Nyuma, YouTube was created for such revelations). I’m just not sure how Juliana would fare emoting raw sexuality. 

Now you might say-scandalous! How can you leave out Desire Luzinda? Have you listened to her Wanji Baby duet with Dennis Rackla?  What about her duet with Mesach Ssemakula-Mubya Love? 

Well, this is why I’m glad I’m not Michael Ross! I won’t be doing the choosing. Michael will.

I Don't Often Ogle Cars.

But I Would Love To Meet The Owner of this beauty

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I used to love Biggie Smalls


Who shot ya?/Seperate the weak from the ob-solete
I used to love Biggie Smalls a.k.a The Notorious B.I.G a.k.a the black Frank White a.k.a Christopher Wallace with a consuming passion, an obsessive replay such as I had not felt since I first listened to Eminem’s 1999 Slim Shady LP and I was going, ‘Oh my God, that song is about me! That’s my life!” Rock Bottom, 2005/2006, ‘I deserve respect; but I work a sweat for this worthless check/Bout to burst this tech, at somebody to reverse this debt/Minimum wage got my adrenaline caged/Full of venom and rage...’ that was me and some of my closest friends! This what we were going through, meeting at that nameless bar in Wandegeya, sometimes in Kisenyi, to put our money together to buy liquors that would enable us to walk home, to sleep, to get up and face another day. And another. And another. If I Had...a million dollars...realer to me & my friends, in its fantastical dreaming than all the Scratch for Cash card games sneaky businessmen in Kampala, before the breweries joined in on the robbing blind spree the Kikuubo-Owino people who would never go to a casino but had the gambling gene, and believed, sometimes you can get lucky and get rich, bibaawo, they knew someone who knew someone who had become rich like that, they even bought a Pajero and now fly to Dubai for business and pleasure. 

 Eminem spoke to me like that. But he did not come as close to the near wordless connection I had the instant I tumbled into the Ready to Die world of Biggie Smalls. Yes, I knew Tupac Shakur, and I have reached a time in life when I appreciate that it no longer has to be either Tupac or Biggie Smalls-just as it does not have to be either Bebe Cool or Bobi Wine, Jose Chameleone or the others-I can love them both without guilt. But from the first time I heard Biggie Smalls Ready to Die album, with that stunning intro of the caterwauling baby and then a heartbeat progress through the life of that baby, man, I was hooked! These rap guys were being as innovative as the rock guys used to be (1950s-1970s), and as the New Orleans spilling out jazz guys had been (1880s-1950s). I was blown! 

Almost from the get go, instinctively even, I knew Biggie Smalls was like John Keats to Tupac Shakur’s Percy Shelley, that Biggie Smalls was like Martin Luther King Jr to Tupac’s Malcolm X. They were like twins separated at birth and one could not have been as great as they became without the other there to challenge them. I knew then that American critic Edmund Wilson had been prescient in noting that a writer is only as good as the best minds of their generation they are writing for, because every writer writes for someone they know, and this art is sort of a love letter, a dialogue when they cannot meet or see each other as much as they would have wanted to. 

With Tupac I knew could expect an education, sometimes a raving diatribe don’t you see if we only do this life could be better lecture. Tupac was sometimes like those shouting themselves hoarse preachers who stride between Kampala matatus trapped in traffic jams with scowling, reluctant listeners who have no escape. Biggie Smalls. Biggie Smalls was like the teacher who tells you in primary school, today we will not be in class, let’s go out and play-and you remember that lesson for the rest of your life, will tell your spouse and children about it one day, with an untroubled smile and wistful look they have never seen on your face.With Biggie... Biggie Smalls could do Everyday Struggle but he could also do something as silly and delightful as Living the Life like rapper Ludacris at his best or Snoop Dogg making anything sound tuxedo cool.

Like that English man Keats La Belle Dame Sans Merci, ‘I never did see anything as comic as a man in love’ Biggie Smalls a master of mixing the high abstract with the lowly everyday muddy fingered realities of where Pringles come from, ‘You can be the shit, flash the fattest five (that's right)/Have the biggest dick, /but when your shell get hit/You ain't worth spit, just a memory’ and then get ready to Spit your Game

I used to love Biggie Smalls! I still do. 

But you can only love a dead man for so long. After sorrow. Before a living, breathing one takes your breath away. Reminds you the sun is still in the sky. Tuesday follows Monday. That groundnut sauce with smoked fish is still likely to curl your toes of pleasure. 

And Jay-Z’s On to the Next One did that. Where ‘Friend or Foe’ from 1996’s Reasonable Doubt had me thinking..hmmm... that slick black & white video with unashamed touches of Batman film Dark Knight, On to the Next One with "Niggaz want my old shit/buy my old album...I got to keep it moving..." finally hit it right. 

Then digging into the delights of the new Real Player’s ability to download YouTube videos, Lost One was like a forehead shove-hey, pay attention! Almost four years after Ishta had pointed it out in her no longer existent blog, as the 2006 Kingdom Come song that took her from the side that blogs over cappered Jiggaman had lost it to paying props to the Dirt off your Shoulder ‘best rapper alive.’ 

Because a song like Lost One, with a video like that, slow elegiac Godfather trilogy beginning, a varnished lost world that’s not quite lost, with it’s painting of scene on scene confirms Hova operating on another level, the hard crustacean shell off...

They don't...paint pictures/They just trace me (What More Can I Say?)

     Time don't go back, it go forward
Can't run from the pain, go towards it
Some things can't be explained, what caused it?
Such a beautiful soul, so pure, shit
Gonna see you again, I'm sure of it
Til that time, little man I'm nauseous
Your girlfriend's pregnant, the lord's gift
Almost lost my faith, that restored it
It's like having your life restarted
Can't wait for your child's life, to be a part of it
So now I'm child-like, waiting for a gift
To return, when I lost you, I lost it

Monday, November 22, 2010

If Only Ugandan Politicians Kept Their Word

Eddy Yawe-the smile of an honest politician?
So Eddy Yawe, Ugandan musician Bobi Wine's elder brother, is contesting for political office-to become Member of Parliament for Kawempe Central. Contrary to what you may have had, that he is a joker in the race, doing it for publicity, or that the Democratic Party may have fielded him because they were desperately short of other better placed members to vy for that seat, Yawe sounds not only serious about this race-he also has a plan of what he wishes to achieve for the people of Kampala Central. I talked to him. I wonder if he wins, five years down the road, what he has said today will sound like.

PS: Unfortunately blogger & my internet provider have conspired to unable me load the sound clip of interview I did with Eddy Yawe-but I will keep trying! 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Museveni’s Cabinet Has World Class Athletes


One of the greater tragedies, for me, that happened this year was the unexpected, sudden death of a great Ugandan writer-Austin Eijet. A chap who told hard truths comically and once had the entire Ugandan blogren infuriated when he explained that there were no creative male Ugandan writers publishing internationally because, “The men are too busy running after money, politics and drinking beer in bars in the evening.”

It is hard to explain the greatness of an artist. It is a tedious exercise. So I won’t do that. I will do something better. I will give you a sample, that serves beautifully in this season of political comedy and tragedy as Ugandans prepare to 'elect' a President and Members of Parliament...going through the campaign season now. A 1999 article punchier than many you will find in any mainstream newspaper in Uganda!

Museveni’s Cabinet Has World Class Athletes 

The All Africa games will be inaugurated in Johannesburg, South Africa, in a few days time. As usual Uganda will be sending a contingent of representatives to this continental fiesta at considerable cost: the youth soccer team, boxers and weight lifters, and a sprinkling of track and field starlets. I wish them better luck than the duo of Julius Acon and Grace Birungi who returned empty handed from the world games at Seville, Spain, where they put up a truly stirring performance. Twenty seven years after John Akii Bua (RIP) gave this country its solitary gold medal at the Munich Olympics, we are still waiting for someone to replicate that achievement.

What do the Maurice Greenes, the Michael Johnsons and the Haile Gebrselassies of this world eat that Ugandans don’t? 

Why should Moroccans, Ethiopians and Kenyans dominate athletics on the African continent? Even boxing in which we used to rule the Commonwealth has slipped from our grip. What is going on? 

Despair no more. Last Saturday, August 28, I was privileged to witness a truly uplifting performance at Ngoma Secondary School, Nakaseke County in Luwero district. I had gone to Nakaseke to see if I could do a story about the elephants that are being relocated to Kabalega National Park after causing mayhem in Luwero. The boda boda cyclist who was to act as my transporter told me that I had chosen a particularly bad time because all the people I had hoped to interview would probably be away at Ngoma where the president was slated to preside over a fundraising ceremony. So to Ngoma I repaired. 

Now, there are few things in this country that can upstage a fund raising ceremony in sheer theatricality. It is almost always good fun, with all the peasants decked out in their Sunday best, dancing deliriously each time the men and women who have looted the national coffers puff out their chests to announce the token sums they are donating back to the people it was stolen from.

But the Ngoma function was different. The majority of the donors were in fact the local herdsmen themselves. The only thing that was demanded of the assembled dignitaries was that they lend their expertise in auctioning the seven herds of cattle on offer, one of which was a hefty bull which had definitely benefitted from the lush pastures of the Luwero triangle. The great beast was obviously in rut, that is to say it was in the mating season. Any cattleman should have known better than entrust this sexually charged mammoth to 10 skinny LDUs equipped with nothing stronger than village ropes at their disposal for restraining it. 

The inevitable happened. As soon as it was led to the clearance infront of the VIP pavilion in readiness for the president to conduct the auction, the animal dug in its heels, snorted like a demon, and scattered the hapless LDUs like mice. It wasn’t done. With its tail ominously in the air, it headed straight for the whitest object on the pavilion which happened to be President Museveni! Holy Moses! Pandemonium broke out with most people showing an incredibly clean pair of heels in an effort to save their lives. 

When a state of the art gymnasium was installed at State House, Nakasero a few months ago some fools bleated about what they deemed to be a superfluous but costly addition to the seat of power, reckoning that the president was too busy to indulge in athletic pursuits. Wrong. From his performance on the evening of August 28 it is more than obvious that the president has been pumping the irons really hard. When the president realised that the bull was in an assassinatory mood and that his security detail had been overpowered, he had a rapid dialogue with his legs as to the best course of action. 

“Your Excellency,” they chorused, “God helps those who help themselves. For our part we are ready to show that pretender Maurice Green who the fastest man on the planet is.” The president took only five or so steps, but the acceleration from zero to perhaps ninety miles per hour in 0.77 seconds was breathtaking. But I don’t want to talk about the president’s lightening dash. 

If the Uganda Amateur Athletics Association wants another gold medal for this fair country, they should stop tormenting malnourished sportsmen and sportswomen and turn their attention to the country’s cabinet. Here is why. The Honourable Syda Bbumba showed us that Saturday evening just why she is the minister of Energy (and Minerals). Marion Jones? Give me break!  Jones is not fit to hold a candle to the Hon. Bbumba. As soon as the bull broke loose, the good minister exploded out of her seat and, using the empty seats as high hurdles, vanished in a blur of blinding acceleration like the Inter City Express electric train (ICE) of the industrialised world. Eh! 

And she did all this with her high heeled shoes still on! For God’s sakes let’s rest little Grace Birungi before she collapses on the track like some American superstar I know. 

Although Prof. Kiddu Makubuya has relinquished the Sports department to another portfolio, he demonstrated that he has lost nothing of the flair that he acquired when sports was still in the ministry of Education. Spectacles or no spectacles, the professor is our answer to Michael Johnson. 

The Hon Kisamba Mugerwa is marathon material. I don’t know where this great man grew up from. Although he travelled farthest, he was the freshest athlete at the end of the races. I would nominate my friend Hon Muruli Mukasa as the matador or bull fighter of the soon to end millennium. I saw this man clobbering the bull with his bare hands before rushing to the president’s side. That is what it means to be the minister for security. Outside the cabinet there also memorable performances by the Hon. Pascal Mukasa, the Luwero LC V chairman, Hajji Abdul Nadduli, the Bishop Evans Mukasa Kiseka. 

I have run out of space. But I strongly suggest that the people cited above be included on the team of sportsmen and women that is leaving today for South Africa. It is a pity the only presidential body guard to take the bull by the horns sustained a broken rib. He would have been perfect for Tae-kwondo. 

Instead of thanking God for saving the president’s life, the good ministers should have borrowed a leaf from Muruli Mukasa and thanked, “That young boy.”

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

DJ Michael is a father


Happy parents now-DJ Michael and Rona in July
A few months back, in July to be exact, I had the rare privilege of visiting musician DJ Michael (real names Michael Mugwanya) at home. Ugandan music lovers will instantly recognise DJ Michael for such songs as Muko Muko, Kwata Kwata and lately for his song Kiri Ok, which has popularised the greeting, ‘Kiri Kitya (How is it going?), Kiri Ok. (It’s Ok). 

In July (and this was before the black night of July 11, 2010), Michael was a troubled man. Not so much about his music career, which while it had taken a dip, he was certain would rise again. As Kiri Ok has slowly proven he was so right to be confident. Michael was a nervous, soon to be first time father because his long time girlfriend Rona Ndagire was pregnant. Michael wanted to state his side of a vicious rumour that was troubling his girlfriend and he feared might cause her to lose the pregnancy. 

On 11th November, 2010 at Nsambya Hospital, Rona gave birth to a baby girl they have decided to name Helly Mugwanya. Weighing 3.4 kilograms, there had been moments of anxiety as Rona had to deliver by caesarean section. But that was about it. DJ Michael and Rona are now first time parents! 

Baby photos in a bit!  

Really Mr. President...You are Going to win and Win Big



M7 Support in overdrive

There are election campaigns going on all over the country. Election campaigns that will see you Mr. President back at State House Entebbe with ‘another’ resounding victory. I’m not even going to bother with even remotely considering that the other ‘runners’ in this chase have a chance of winning. 

Retired Colonel Dr. Kiiza Besigye, who is leading that strange animal called IPC (Inter Party Cooperation) have excelled at showing just how political parties in Uganda fail to cooperate more than they can. You can legitimately ask how would he be able to run Uganda if he is unable to ‘whip’ his subordinates into line. Every other week we hear of how some politician supposed to be a part of the IPC cries foul, having lost in a ‘stolen’ internal party election, and decides to stand for a ‘juicy’ post as an independent. For the first time, Besigye too is beginning to sound like a stuck tape-repeating himself over and over-about how you Mr. President is stealing our money, about how you Mr. President wants to turn us into a jigger nation. I’m not hearing anything new from him. 

Democratic Party President Norbert Mao (some refuse to acknowledge him as a legitimate party president; they claim he & some cohorts, to take over the party staged a coup! Imagine, even before he comes to power, they are already in rehearsal!) Clearly Mao is not in this 2011 election race to win. His calculation seems to be that he wants to cement his name and face as a national political figure. I know he is youthful, I should be feeling a bit closer to him, but there is something about Mao is that is faintly alarming. Actually it is a trait, I believe Mao shares with you Mr. President (though I have to give it to you for being more skilful at disguising its nakedness)- a ravenous power hunger. I have little doubt that if the 2011 elections are chaotic, and in trying to pull the country back together, Mr. President, you offer Mao a power sharing deal, he will take it. 

Uganda Federal Alliance Beti Olive Namisango Kamya is the only woman in the race, and her ‘party’ is less than two years old. Her claim is that she is basing her campaigns on the promise of bringing federalism government to Uganda, “Let everybody ask for theirs in their language,” while it sounds anarchic, is really the keg stand Kamya is using to remain relevant in Ugandan politics. I’m waiting for the day when some UFA’s leaders come screaming to the press that there is no freedom in the party, the party president wants to be the sole decision maker. It is an accusation Kamya has made against you Mr. President and she made as she was being forced out of Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Change. Uganda is like that. You don’t have to wait a lifetime to see and hear a public figure, without shame, make a 180 degrees flat reversal of their position. All that matters is the ‘entebbe ewoma’-the sweet chair. Kamya is interesting to me because she is the embodiment, in female form as Besigye was in the male, of how frustration reacts today in Uganda, desperately seeking a channel to continue to be allowed at least to exist, if no deserved prosperity is on the cards. 

There are the others also in the race, some old ‘friends’ of yours. You have worked with them and sacked some, others have applied to work with you and failed to get your attention but now with this gesture they are sure you will certainly be watching. Like People’s Progressive Party Mzee Bidandi Ssali who claims to have been in the political trenches since the 1960s and is back in them because almost everything he has worked for all his life has been overturned, Dr. Olara Otunnu of the Uganda People’s Congress who has a ‘dishonouring mark’ from the 1980s some people will never let go of (and how I wish they could ‘kulemera’ on more pressing issues in our history too)-and leading a party that is fast slimming down as more members defect or just quit politics or dying, depending on how you observe the latest goings on in Uganda’s second oldest political party and most significant after yours, Mr. President. 

There are two more. Dr. Abed Bwanika of Peoples Development Party and Lubega, but I have my suspicions that they are doing it for CV reasons, and no, I’m not being unfair. I can even summarise what all these Presidential hopefuls are promising-prosperity, education for all, worker pay rises, more employment opportunities, and freedom of association. Those are the promises, in a nutshell. And they don’t mean much to the ordinary Ugandan anymore, because they were the same promises placed before the electorate in 1996, 2001, and 2006. 

The Uganda of 2011 is vastly different from the Uganda of 14 years ago, the Uganda of 10 years ago, even the Uganda of five years ago. I think we are all a lot less gullible, a lot less hopeful, each out for what they can get. And these aspirants without their hand on an economic power that can ‘give’ something are simply whistling in the wind. 

With these weak ‘competitors,’ is it any wonder then I’m already convinced you Mr. President are going to win resoundingly? This is perhaps why the 2011 Presidential election race does not much move me because it’s already a done deal, as American businessmen from Texas might say-if you want a real change, start the groundwork for 2016 now. The ‘real’ election that moves me, that concerns me, is the Kampala mayoral race. I know, I know, everyone is saying the mayor won’t matter now that the central government has taken over the management of Kampala city. But nothing is irreversible in a court of law. This is why I’m keen on the Kampala mayoral race, more than the 2011 Presidential elections.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

She was asking


  •  from My Story"Bana Bana Mabega"

She was asking, in her SMS text message, what he wanted to know as well, “But where are you?” a chicken wing gets hot when you turn it on.  Indeed. Where was he? He had been thinking about it a lot since the year begun. He thought it but he was still afraid to say it. 2010 and 2005 looked a like, for him. Nothing had changed. 

Like in 2005, in 2010 he was standing by the side of a road waiting a commuter taxi that would take him to Entebbe. Every few minutes, nervously tapping his shirt pocket to hear the jingle of coins that were to be his fare. Making sure they were still there, because they were the only ones he had. The exact amount he needed to reach Bwebajja. In 2005 though the fare had not been 1500 shillings like it was today. Sometimes you could even go for 800 shillings. That had changed. 

In 2005, his uncle had been unable to control himself, yelling even as his aunt tried to get him to quiet down, “You’re a fool! A fool! You will have to learn a lesson from life! It seems that is the only way you can learn.” He had not spoken to his uncle in two years but he knew what he would say now. Life was teaching him many lessons. 

Like this lesson, that maybe he was a failure. That his uncle was right, he was a fool.

 
She wanted know where he was? He wanted to know too....

                                                       *****

Friday, November 12, 2010

Another View of Head on Shoulder

Head on my shoulder in taxi-much less pleasant!

"I'm not afraid of anything even time"


“I'm folded in the bread you made. You're cold until my body bathes you in the heat I kept aside. All these days
I'm not afraid of anything even time.”
                           Snow Patrol-The Golden Floor

She would have called it his arrogance. His most annoying, irritating, deluded, I’m more important than anyone else way. His striding into an office meeting late, sitting in the most comfortable leather sofa that was available, and when all eyes turned to look at him, their alarmed mute horror attempting to will him out of it because he was in their boss’s seat-he simply asking, ‘Can we start?’ Like they had all been waiting for him-this stranger from the accounts division they never met except on their monthly checks. 

Ignoring him, not talking to him, did not work. He seemed unaware that she could choose to ignore him. Refuse to call him, refuse to answer his text messages; even he clogged up her phone in-box with smiley clip arts. He could only seem to assume that it had been a network error. Not that she was angry at him. Hurt by him. For cancelling an outing at 4:50pm in the evening on Friday, she had been looking forward to since he promised on Tuesday, when he had come to their building, to meet the head of her department and seen her washing her at the kitchen sink-almost made her drop her gray clay tea mug, when he had put his hand on her shoulder-forcing her to pause the Hoobastank song on her iPod midway. 

He was like a child. Her six year old little brother, James. James could scratch the touch screen of her Samsung phone with the CRV’s car keys, and ten minutes later come back, still asking about the ‘lift’ to Jumbo, to get ice cream. As if he had done nothing. Or had completely forgotten that this phone was the last present their father had sent her-before he fell ill in Maryland, USA, ‘A simple fever,’ they had been assured. In a week’s time, get the call from Uganda Funeral Services; he had long had an insurance policy with them...could they begin to make arrangements to return his body? 

He was like that. He did not expect, no, he did not believe, could not even begin to think, that anyone could be angry at him for months and months. Not want to talk to him. Not wish him well. Forget about him and put him out of mind. He used to say, and she used to think it cute-ish then, ‘I have a face which is easy to remember,’ when walking together, men and women would often take startled second looks, not at her, but at him, like they thought maybe, surely, they had seen him before. 

That day when he called, four months after he had without explanation stopped calling her, changed his phone number without telling her, been promoted and reposted, he had started with the worst possible story. Obviously not thinking about how it might make her feel, ‘So, this girl laid her head on my shoulder and I thought of you....’ 

Did he imagine she wanted to know which girl he was with now? Did he imagine she wanted to care and wonder who he was with now? Who he was taking on those twilight coming down walks he used to take with her, saying let’s leave the car and first walk, talk, think, we can come back-walking through streets, holding hands like they were giggling teenagers-making her see in shut lit windows, lives and thoughts she would never have had on her own. Filling her mind. Making her yearn. When would he kiss her? 

Did he think she would want to go back to all that? 

He did not seem to notice, telling her, like as if they had been talking all week, about the girl who reminded him of her, like she had been some misplaced memory from the hard disk of his mind come back-like the wafting scent of a perfume you know. 

‘My driver, the fool, took the car keys with him, when he went to visit his wife, so I had to use a taxi. But it was nice. It’s been so long since I used a taxi that I think I was beginning to forget some things. So this girl laid her head on my shoulder, she was dozing, my God, she sleeps like you. At first I thought, eh, can it be you? But it was not. It was the way she laid her head on my shoulder, like oba I’m a pillow, but you know I did not mind. Her breath was tickling my neck. Then I knew. I want to hold you again...” 

I'm not afraid of anything even time


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kirya RFI Award Preview....

A proper post on Maurice Kirya's RFI 2010 Discovered Artist is coming up, hopefully later today, but for the moment, some Kirya! 

This lil' old thing? My 2010 RFI Award!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Snow Patrol - The Golden Floor (Chilling Love!)




Snow Patrol - The golden floor Lyrics

Songwriters: Connolly, Nathan; Lightbody, Gary; Quinn, Jonathan; Simpson, Tom; Wilson, Paul

Tell me that you want to dance
I want to feel your pulse on mine
Just treat me like a stolen glance
To yourself

A dark shape on a golden floor
A sleeping planet with a molten core
From above we'd cut a slow eight shape
And much more

I'm a peasant in your princess arms
Penniless with only charm
As we're leveled by the low, hot lights
And disarmed

I'm not afraid of anything even time
It'll eke away at everything but we'll be fine

I'm folded in the bread you made
You're cold until my body bathes
You in the heat I kept aside
All these days

I'm not afraid of anything even time
It'll eke away at everything but we'll be fine

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The 2010 Ugandan PAM Artiste of the Year


Bebe Cool in a video shoot
As anyone even remotely interested in Ugandan music and entertainment now knows, musician Bebe Cool (birth name- Moses Ssali) was named Pearl of Africa Music Awards 2010 Artiste of the Year. It is an award Bebe Cool has coveted since 2003 when Isaac Mulindwa organised music awards first came into being, adding an extra end of year spice to the entertainment scene. And, though in some quarters it is disputed, ratcheting up the competitiveness in a field that already was quite competitive. 

I say in some quarters, because, even though some musicians denied they wanted to have anything to do with the awards, they still could not stop talking about them. Bebe Cool included, who each year he lost, to Jose Chameleone (2003), to Bobi Wine (2006), he loudly and vociferously denied that those awards meant anything. They were fixed, as far as he was concerned. Some musicians, like the best known female gospel singer Judith Babirye, went ahead to demand they not be nominated, would certainly never appear at the awards, because then they were sponsored by a beer company. (Judith Babirye not only received the 2010 PAM Award best gospel single for Wanjagala) but she also actually got on that ‘worldly’ stage and ‘mimed’ to her song. 

Mimed, because none of the artists who performed at the 2010 PAM Awards actually sang ‘live’ or had an accompanying band. Babirye’s ‘performance’ (if it can be called that...) was not the worst of that night, that unfortunate dishonour would fall to Cindy (legal names Cinderella Sanyu), who this blogger will still insist can put on quite a show but that night was just not her night. In part, I suspect, because she had just lost the 2010 Female Artist of the Year award to Iryn Namubiru. 

So anyway, Bebe Cool was far from the only artist to trash talk the PAM Awards. Or media personality. It is always open season, when the PAM Awards on. But as one legend on a t-shirt claims, if no one is talking about you, you ain’t doing shit. The PAM Awards do matter.
Bebe Cool’s own reaction on finally winning the 2010 Artiste of the Year accolade says so. On Sunday, November 7th, 2010, a clearly exhilarated Bebe Cool posted as his Facebook status message, “These awards, I dedicate to Allah, my mom, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta, my wife and kids, brothers and sisters, producers, DJs, friends and fans of Gagamel. No weapon formed against me shall prosper.”

  • Allah, because Bebe Cool is a lapsed, sometimes practicing Muslim (I guess depending on his mood and where he is in his life!
  • Mom, because Bebe Cool, in his earlier interviews at the beginning of his ascent to Ugandan musical fame, before he reconciled with his father, Honourable Bibandi Ssali, used to claim he had been raised by a single mother. The elder Ssali was once a part of the current Ugandan government before he fell out with President Yoweri Museveni, and has sebquently formed his own political party, the People’ s Progressive Party.  
  • Yoweri Kaguta (the other names of the President) because it was reported that Museveni personally contributed hundreds of millions of shillings to enable Bebe Cool to fly out of the country to the USA to get specialised treatment after Bebe Cool was shot on a Saturday morning 30th January 2010 by a policeman under yet to be still fully explained circumstances. The presidential contribution raised uproar from some who thought Bebe Cool did not deserve ‘special treatment’ after his ‘bad behaviour’ while others defended the ‘favour’ because Bebe Cool is a major musician in Uganda and one of the inspirations of upcoming younger musicians.
  • Wife and kids, because his former beauty queen wife Zuena Kirema Ssali is a muse of sorts. To Bebe Cool himself (her temporary estrangement in 2009 inspired a creative frenzy in the artist that yielded hits like Agenze, Bamugambe, and of course Kasepiki). And to other musicians like the Goodlyfe Crew leaders Mowzey Radio and Weasel, among whose break out  hits ‘Zuena’ catapuluted them to fame and escalated their feud with Bebe Cool; Eighton and Rainman whose Matama, that features the ‘real’ Zuena saved them from being one hit wonders with their Kiwoko.
  • Producers because one in particular, Rinex, worked on some of Bebe Cool’s biggest hits of the last two years. Rinex worked on Kasepiki, Bogolako, Chemical Reaction and Chap chap among many others on that Kasepiki album.
  • Gagamel-Bebe Cool’s crew, after he left Firebase Crew (or was tossed out, if you listen to Bobi Wine’s version). Mostly they are younger musicians he mentors.
  • The Bible-that one stumped me! The No weapons quote comes from the Christian Bible Isaiah 15:74.
Now, after all this, you might think 2010 Pearl of Africa Music Award Artiste of the Year is all Bebe Cool won. No! Bebe Cool was actually the biggest winner of the night. He also won 2010 Best Reggae artist and even more prestigiously Kasepiki was declared the 2010 Album of the Year. 

I will confess I had not laid hands on this Kasepiki album. So I sought it out to find out the album’s line up. In no particular order, below are the songs on Bebe Cool’s 2010 Kasepiki album...

  • Trouble
  • Kasepiki
  • Bogolako
  • Big Size
  • Come to Me featuring Ks Alpha
  • Chap chap featuring AY
  • Let It Rain
  • Sebowa
  • Nsumba Mata
  • I Believe in Love
  • Chemical Reaction
  • Till You Love Me  
The most arguments I have had are not about whether Bebe Cool deserved to be Artiste of the Year. They are about whether Kasepiki deserved to be Album of the Year when there are the likes of Jose Chameleone’s Basiima Ogenze, Goodlyfe’s Ngenda Mumaaso, Bobi Wine’s Mr. Money and Dr. Hilderman’s Amelia-just to mention the ones that come fastest to mind. 

Do you think Kasepiki deserved to be Uganda’s 2010 Album of the Year?

Monday, November 08, 2010

PAM Awards happened on Saturday....

The Pearl of Africa Music Awards, in case you have no idea-Uganda's 'premier music awards'-some call them. After failing to happen in 2009, shareholders bickering, they sort of bounced back this year, and the ceremony was the UMA Showgrounds Main hall , Lugogo.

Like with all awards, there were a few surprises...Like I thought Cindy had 'real' broken up with her longtime boyfriend Mario Burnett (the same guy who owns Cayenne, one of Kampala's hottest hang out spots).


Cindy makes an entrance with Mario Burnett

Then There was the hard to miss (or ignore, depending on your feelings about her) Straka Mwezi,who gave this year's Pearl of Africa Music Awards an unforgettable twist....

Straka's 'infamous' tumble on national television
And The Winners Were...
Northern artiste of the year: Brazen Rule
Western artiste of the year: Rama P
Eastern artiste of the year: Rocky
West Nile artiste of the year: King Weedman
Best hip hop single: Kikankane (GNL Zamba)
Best hip hop artiste: Navio
Best afrobeat single: Basiima Ogenze (Jose Chameleone)
Best afrobeat artiste: Jose Chameleone
Best gospel single: Wanjagala (Judith Babirye)
Best gospel artiste: Wilson Bugembe
Best cultural group: Percussion Discussion
Best folk pop artiste: Suzan Kerunen
Best kadongo kamu single: Embaga Ya Kiwewa (Gerald Kiwewa)
Best kadongo kamu artiste: Mathias Walukagga
Best ragga artiste: Rabadaba
Best reggae artiste: Bebe Cool
Best R&B single: Abakyala Bazira (Jamal)
Best R&B artiste: Aziz Azion
Best live band: Qwela Band
Best live band single: Taliiyo (Messach Ssemakula)
Video of the year: Raw (Navio)
Songwriter of the year: Silver Kyagulanyi
Audio producer: Benon Mugumbya
Best new artiste: Eddy Kenzo
Best Female artiste: Iryn Namubiru
Best Male artiste: Radio & Weasel
Album of the year: Kasepiki (Bebe Cool)
Song of the year: Omukwano Gunyuma (Samalie Matovu)
Artiste of the year: Bebe Cool