Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Reading Darkness Thoughts

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Museveni's Children

I lusted, I longed, but I could not have. 

That has been my life. For a decade and more. 

Longing. Desire. Being thwarted. For three decades or this tadoba light, it’s hard to tell, the cataracts foam time.

I’m writing all this down for the first time. 

Writing it down, I’m surprised I’m not bitter, or tired or ready to give up. 

What is it that impels me forward still? To try again. To keep trying? We've been dream carrying bigger ambitions in smaller carriers...

I cannot explain it myself. I do not find it in some fortune cookie mystery unwrapped with fingers of laughing impatience. Some haiku wisdom from centuries of human endeavour. It is not in the (Kwata) split sayings from the clan and tribe I was born in, whose sayings do not easily drop from my mouth like saliva but everything of it I’m, more and more I’m told, I’m. 

The older I have grown, the more I have become attached to my past. Not my past of three decades or so existence, but my past, the communal past of our clan and our tribe and our where did we come from. The past of so-and-so was born here, he was a great wanderer, he could not rest, so they gave  him the name such-and-such for his wandering, but he left his mark, he had four wives and 20 children, of those 20 children came our great, great grandfather. He was a wanted man all his adult years, because like a true man of our clan, he did not know what it meant to kneel before anyone, would not kneel, so that is who he was. It was no surprise that he gave birth to so-and-so who always spoke his mind, who admitted his heart ruled him before his head....

That past, I’m attached to it more and more. It makes sense and I’m not running from it anymore. This Apple MacAir fancier, Aljazeera TV messages decoder, Samsung camera phone fanatic, who has surprised himself by a late discovery, love of Elvis Presley, king of the blue-eyed boy music used to scoff stole from the proud black is beautiful struggle. I go back to the past to make sense of the future that is here now, I cradle in my arms and who’s crying pangs I lull into a staring contest then gurgle of love. The future is here and I’m becoming a part of the past, comfortable with my antique becoming. 

The past places grenades in the fallow earth of the future, so I’m wary where I tread. To live 30 plus years in Africa, eastern, Uganda; a living, creative, dedicated to a principle and dream, unwavering, staving off the compromises and well meaning corruption traps; now that is something. After these decades, these thwarting, these missed chances, in the after midnight hours starting up in your bed of panic to face new mornings yet to come, still focused, dreaming and working. That is astonishing. Even to me. Unbroken by the contradictions and paradoxes we live in and live with everyday, real dreams in unreal situations, never giving up, not even thinking of it. 

I salute you my generation. My age-mates. Parent-becoming while still confused about whether childhood is really over and what is this world without permanent rules you are coming into, where every dream seller almost always turns out to be the rapist of your nightmares. I salute you, conscious-becoming of your heritage, throw-back referencing in the YouTube videos of your lives.

 We are who we are. Learning to accept this. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This is about Climate Change really, but it's about My Childhood Too

When I was a child, I played in streams I thought were rivers, woods I thought were forests, with children I thought were heroes for knowing everything about those rivers and forests.

They knew how to get “ensonzi” (eels) from the “river,” rub sticks together to make a fire to roast them and they knew how to eat them without the treacherously sharp tiny bones pricking our tongues or sticking down our throats, “Like Obote who was a greedy fish eater,” they used to laugh.

We would go to fetch water in jerry cans without covers, some of us pots, or cross the “river” with our fathers to the farm to help carry back the milk that was going to the diary, in the chilly morning with our teeth chattering and not return until after 10am. When we would find sweet smelling milk with “ekiyansi” and burnt delicious sweet and Irish potatoes waiting for us for breakfast.

If we did not have to go to school, those of us who were too young or who had paid the school dues for that term could go back to the forest for the rest of the day-running feet of happiness, shirtless, shoeless, empty-pocketed, to hunt for the treasures of the forest, to heat our feet in the noonday sun on the caked earth of the great rift valley, in whistling wonder listening to Kasigi retell how God belched and the earth separated to create this rift valley and how one day he might belch again: it could even be today! 

The boys would run naked into the “river” and splash water at the giggling girls huddle on the bank and I could see, even then, in the corner of my eye, the boy and the girl who had split from the group to talk in private under a tree away from us. The girl chewing the “ntututu” the boy had brought her and we would know somehow that they would never be like us again. 

The older boys would slap the guy on the back and wrestle him to the ground so roughly his knees would bruise and he would have to rub “eshabarara” where the skin had been torn off. The girl would become like a mother, the girls and all the younger ones jealously vying for her attention, and she would turn away no one. She would have answers for the girls that would make them cup their chins in thoughtful attention and she would frolic her fingers though our hair in a ticklish progress that distracted us to no end, then stop, ask us if we could name the cawing bird cry that had just rung out in the forest. 

Off we would go! Running for the tree we thought we had heard the booming cry, to stand, up-turned faces of wonder, searching, looking at the sky blue mat of branches and leaves and a spinning sky till we were dizzy from the game. 

Sometimes it rained but we never left the “forest.” Sometimes there were accidents, but we returned to the “forest.” Many times we were warned, but no one stopped us from going back to the “forest.” The “forest” was big and we would return every evening from the “forest” when we had not been to half of what it was, the big boys would assure us. But we did not mind because the “forest” was a part of us and we would always go back, we thought. 

The “forest” is no longer there, in the village where I was born.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I need you.

I thought it was want. This self-denying, grateful bed-pillow rest to sit, undrunk, zonked, photo galleries of you floating past bleary eyes, like gold fish in an aquarium. So many cups of coffee my tongue now a “natural” brown. 

I thought it was want. This abandonment of chastising vows in late evening Rubaga Cathedral compound walks, self-mumbling, sometimes stopping at the brass bands rehearsals, the dusk views into a Kampala where you live, breathing, sneezing when it became cold, rubbing my eyes. In the bench pews on my knees, scrapping my joints, looking for the majesty I used to see in the cathedral windows that I saw that day, talking myself out of turning on my phone in this holy place to turn on myself. When it would fail, hurrying with difficulty out, unable to bear a hard-on in front of the holy mother of our Lord, taking it outside, with threats I would buy an Embassy Lights if it did not subside. 

Come back, my pleas, when I was back home, and stay back home and stay. You may not be here but my wife would like it, in household reversal of desires when I’m always too tired from too much office work and she’s constantly asking if I liked her new silk panties-what is inside is even “better”—

I thought it was want; off the sugared highs of many teas, cokes, too many longing music playlists, Dominoes ice-creams, emails of rueful regret, Facebook profile pictures of my hands over yours, James Blunt-Oh God, James Blunt, & Centenary Park hanging around for accidental meetings of you with him. all banned, to get this want out of me. 

Then I began talking to you in my dreams. 

It was not want. 

It was need. 

I need you.

***** (1:40am)

I got this iPod, like the one I got you, making you laugh-my thumbs too big on the switch dial, but I have learned since then, impressing you, even how to keep the ear buds from tumbling out my bat ears, walking.

I walk a lot, any chance I get, though I leave the office so late, often with no car, I have forgotten the mutayimbwa thieves brushes by the I begin walking into song one of this playlist. Continuing our tradition, loving you to a new song, a new artist, I promised you he is a major one, you said, “I’ll love him because you love him, I know...” 

A month or so later, your twitter page blinking up #np She Ain’t You Bei Maejor, u know who u r. Yes, I did. Our Bei Maejor. No video, no mass release, not much known. So now Bei Maejor a big part of my playlist & when I’m walking, past 1 am unafraid, I’m not walking in Kampala but a Javas for us. I text you sometimes, when I shouldn’t, cracked pavement dodging, trying not to step on sprawled feet of the veranda sleepers in a city in darkness and October rains. When I could be mugged, stop smug-boasting, “I have never been robbed. In fact I have never lost a phone to a thief.” 

In the Kampala of these nights, window standing waiting for your taxi to fill up, teasing, “Kiss me or I’m going to put my hand through this window and you know where it’s going to go.” You stifling your alarmed pressing your handbag on your thighs, “Don’t! Please, don’t. Ok, I’ll give you.” How did we do that? Kiss in the Old Taxi Park, you inside a taxi, me at your window? How? Walking, after late hours from the office, Bei Maejor She Ain’t You, yeah, she ain’t you, girl. Unable to leave the Old Taxi Park that first time, 30 minutes later, on the phone, we struggling to accept how I could not come home with you, you pleading, “Don’t load anymore credit, please, you won’t have money for the fare.”

I started to close my eyes, kissing you. All the way. 

Seeing you better, girl in jeans and black & white canvas shoes. When I opened my eyes, unsure if I was real, if the ground was still beneath my feet. I was a drink of Gilbeys in a glass in your hand, your lips softer than any date I have bitten into-I did not think it was possible. 

Walking, I couldn't walk all this out. I couldn't work it out.

It took your courage, your fingers finding home between mine on the crisis conscience table, "We have what we have. Let us have it." 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

2 Kings: When Biggie Smalls Crossed Michael Jackson's Path

Can't describe the hair-raising excitement of reading the studio session rap's phenomenal one The Notorious B.I.G had with the King of Pop, Michael Jackson...

Thank you we go...

27th June 2009, 10:26 PM   #14

Lives for gear

Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 2,560 

I was fortunate enough to work with MJ early in my career. He was an incredible artist. Talented beyond your wildest dreams. Extremely generous, and a hard worker. I actually went from a staff assistant at the Hit Factory in NYC to freelance engineer under Swedien and MJ. They were due to start in Los Angeles when the Northridge earthquake hit so they moved to New York. One room was all Bruce, the second room was the writing room. I started assisting Bruce's writing partner Rene Moore. I would track stuff with Rene, and Bruce would come in and tell me what I did wrong, sit in for a few hours and set us straight. After a couple months MJ arrived and the entire tour rig was moved in along with Brad Buxer, Andrew Scheps, and Eddie Delena. I continued to assist them until the whole crew moved to L.A., they decided to take me with them. I would assist Bruce during the day, and help out every where else at night - assisting, engineering, programming, and on one song playing guitar. We had two rooms at Record One, and two rooms at Larrabee where I met John. At one point in NYC we had just about every room at the Hit Factory. The crew was great, and I learned so much from all of them. I learned to engineer from Bruce Swedien, John, and Eddie, and got to sit in with producers like MJ, Jam And Lewis, Babyface, David Foster, Teddy Riley, and Dallas Austin.

I was actually asked to leave the project early on because there were too many people around and MJ didn't know me. Luckily, I was rehired about 10 days later. At the wrap party MJ apologized profusely, and expressed his gratitude. Truly the most sincere man you will ever meet.

Some random memories:

One morning MJ came in with a new song he had written overnight. We called in a guitar player, and Michael sang every note of every chord to him. "here's the first chord first note, second note, third note. Here's the second chord first note, second note, third note", etc., etc. We then witnessed him giving the most heartfelt and profound vocal performance, live in the control room through an SM57.

He would sing us an entire string arrangement, every part. Steve Porcaro once told me he witnessed MJ doing that with the string section in the room. Had it all in his head, harmony and everything. Not just little eight bar loop ideas. he would actually sing the entire arrangement into a micro-cassette recorder complete with stops and fills.

At one point Michael was angry at one of the producers on the project because he was treating everyone terribly. Rather than create a scene or fire the guy, Michael called him to his office/lounge and one of the security guys threw a pie in his face. No further action was needed . . . . .

During the recording of "Smile" on HIStory, Bruce thought it would be great if Michael would sing live with the orchestra. But of course, we didn't tell the players that. We set him up in a vocal booth off to the side. They rehearsed a bit without vocals in, then during the first take Michael sang, just about knocked them out of their chairs.

His beatboxing was without parallel, and his time was ridiculous.

His sense of harmony was incredible. Never a bad note, no tuning, even his breathing was perfectly in time.

Once, while we were taking a break, I think we were actually watching the OJ chase on TV, there was a news program talking about him being in Europe with some little boy. I was sitting next to the guy while the news is making this crap up. He just looked at me and said this is what I have to deal with.

I spent close to 3 years working with him, and not once did I question his morals, or ever believe any of the allegations. I wasn't even a fan then. I saw him interact with his brothers kids, other people's children, and at one point my own girlfriend's kids. I got to spend a day at Neverland with them. A completely incredible human being, always looking for a way to make all children's lives better. Every weekend at Neverland was donated to a different children's group - children with AIDS, children cancer, etc., and most of the time he wasn't there.

He was simply living the childhood he never had. In many ways he never grew up.

I was assisting Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis while they recorded the background vocals for "Scream" with MJ and Janet. The two of them singing together was amazing. Super tight, no bad notes. One part after another. When they took a break they sang the showtunes they used to sing as kids. Again, perfect harmony. Mj refused to sing the "stop f*ckin' with me part" because he would NOT curse.

I was the tape op for the recording of the background vocals on "Stranger in Moscow". Scared the hell out me. Michael was dropping in and out on syllables, rearranging the notes and timing as he put it down. No Pro Tools at the time, just 2" tape, and my punches.

I erased a live keyboard overdub that he played one night. He came in the next morning, replaced it, and never uttered another word about it.

I was there when Lisa Marie was around. They acted like two kids in love. Held hands all the time, and she hung out at the studio for quite a while. I never questioned their love for each other.

We recorded a Christmas song during the summer of '94 that needed a children's choir. Michael insisted that the entire studio be decorated with xmas lights, tree, fake snow and a sled for their recording. And he bought presents for everyone.

The last weekend of recording on HIStory he came to me and Eddie Delena, and said "I'm sorry, but I don't think any of us are going to sleep this weekend. There's a lot to get done, and we have to go to Bernie on Monday morning". He stayed at the studio the entire time, singing, and mixing. I got to spend a couple quiet moments with him during that time. We talked about John Lennon one night as he was gearing up to sing the last vocal of the record - the huge ad libs at the end of "earth song". I told him the story of John singing "twist and shout" while being sick, and though most people think he was screaming for effect, it was actually his voice giving out. He loved it, and then went in to sing his heart out. . . .

Later that night, while mixing, everyone left the room so MJ could turn it up. This was a common occurrence during the mixes, and I was left in the room with ear plugs, and hands over my ears, in case he needed something. This particular night, all the lights were out and we noticed some blue flashes intermittently lighting up the room during playback. After a few moments we could see that one of the speakers (custom quad augspuergers) was shooting blue flames. Mj liked this and proceeded to push all the faders up . . . .

MJ liked hot water while he was singing. I mean really hot !!!!! It got to the point that I would melt plastic spoons to test it.

Bruce and I were talking about walking to the studio everyday in NYC, and what routes we took. Michael looked at us and said we were so lucky to be able to do that. He couldn't walk down the street without being harassed. It was a sad moment for all of us.

The studio crew got free tickets to the Janet show so we all went right from work one night. About halfway through the show we see this dude with a long beard, dressed in robes dancing in the aisle behind. I mean really dancing . . . it was Mj in disguise. Kind of like the costume Chevy Chase wears in Fletch while roller skating.

He got one of the first playstations from sony in his lounge . . . we snuck in late at night to play the games that hadn't been released yet.

A couple people on the session hadn't seen Jurassic Park while it was out, so MJ arranged a private screening for us at Sony.

He was a huge fan of Nine Inch Nails Downward Spiral . . . .

I was lucky enough over the course of 3 years to have access to the multitrack masters for tour prep, videos, and archive purposes. To be able to pull these tracks apart was a huge lesson in production, and songwriting. A chance to look into the minds of geniuses.

Of all the records I've worked on, MJJ was the only company to give platinum award records.

One day we just all sat in the studio listening to his catalog with him for inspiration. He loved the process, he loved the work.
Rob Hoffman


28th June 2009, 02:00 AM   #43
Lives for gear

Join Date: May 2005
Location: Los Angeles

Posts: 850 

By the way, to elaborate a bit on the Notorious B.I.G. session, it was kinda like this. Michael used to call people to ask them to participate on albums. It was interesting knowing that nearly anyone on the planet would come to the phone if it were Michael calling. Anyway, I heard rumors that B.I.G. was going to come, and I was excited about that! I knew that I would be the one to record that, as I had recorded nearly all of that tune, "This Time Around".

So, Dallas and I were expecting him any minute, and pretty much on time, Notorious strolls in. He was quite an imposing figure when he walked in, as he was quite popular at the time. I had no idea what to expect from him in terms of attitude, but he seemed nice when he walked in. No problem. But almost immediately, he blurted out, "Yo, Dallas, can I meet Mike?" To which, Dallas replied that he thought so. Biggie went on to talk about how much this opportunity meant to him, as Michael was his hero. Anyway, Dallas tells him that we're going to lay down the rap first, so Biggie heads in the booth, we get some headphone levels and get ready to start recording.

So, we hit the big red button (on a Sony 3348 machine), and away we go. During his first take, Dallas and I looked at each other, because it was spot on. wow. I was impressed, and so was Dallas. We listened back, and Dallas was like, "Wow, I think we got it". As I recall, we took another take for good measure, but I'm fairly certain that we ended up using the first take. So, Notorious comes in, and asks if he can meet Michael now. We sent word to the back room where Michael was working that Biggie was finished and wanted to meet him.

Simply for security, Michael's security would enter and make sure that no one was in the room that shouldn't be, and once that was confirmed (it was just me, Biggie and Dallas), Michael came in. Biggie nearly broke out in tears...I could tell how much this meant to him. Well, Michael could have this effect on anyone, even the most hardcore rappers! Biggie was tripping up on his words, bowing down and telling Michael how much his music had meant to him in his life. Michael was, as always, very humble and kept smiling while Biggie just went on and on how much he loved Michael. I watched Biggie just become this big butterball of a man, and it was really very sweet to witness. After all, we are all just people.

Michael finally asked to hear what we had done, and we popped it up on the big speakers and let her go. Michael LOVED it and was excited to tell Biggie that! "Oh, let's hear it again", I recall Michael saying, and we listened again. Michael just loved it...and thanked Biggie for coming all the way from Philadelphia. Biggie asked rather sheepishly whether he could get a photo, and Michael agreed. A shot was taken, we listened again, and Michael thanked Biggie. Michael said goodbye and stepped out, leaving Biggie standing there looking completely stunned.

It will always remain a great, great memory.
The Resonater

Crimes of the heart & mind, A Uganda I'm Not Proud Of

Tshila's own CHOGM 2007 Story...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

GNL Zamba & Mun*G Sept 08, 2010-A Year Back When...

GNL & Mun*G-English Voca

1.       When we still had to do interviews inside a Hiace Van in the parking lot because it would have been way too expensive for a crew to sit at a Kisementi restaurant and 30 minute chat.  

2.       When GNL Zamba, recently split from Shadrack Kutesa’s Platinum Entertainment was trying to sell to sceptics the Baboon Forest Entertainment group and kept throwing Genghis Khan references in his conversation.  

3.       When Mun’G and Big Tril still had to explain who they are, new Baboon Forest entrants, but did they have to be there for every GNL Zamba interview. Yes, GNL would roar, they’re my boys. 

4.       When Mun’G was still a High School act, talking about songs he claimed were burning up the chats but most journalists, 10 or more years out of the high school scene, had never heard of, privately wondered if he and Big Tril were not GNL Zamba hangers-on. 

5.       Mun’G before Gira Tugire...more popularly known as Kyaba Too Much, adulterated in Airtel Uganda adverts as Kyaba too good...

6.       Before some Ugandan music industry watchers began to ask aloud, “But isn’t Mun’G better than GNL Zamba? Me I like Mun’G. He is so funny.” Like GNL Zamba was not funny to begin with, or had suddenly lost his humour, in becoming a CEO of Baboon Forest Entertainment. GNL shrugging them off, “Everybody takes shots at the boss.” 

7.       In the aftermath of Koyi Koyi: The Legend of Zamba, GNL still lost, his Speaking Vernacular album on the burner, unsure what to follow it up with, with 99 problems on his mind from allegations of beating up his girlfriend to club altercations with a girl who claimed she had been his lover, sponsor-what a year! 

8.       A blogger rediscovering his love of blogging, from of all people, his interview subjects, quoting lines from blog posts of the past they had read and liked, were wondering, “What’s up? Why you not blogging?” September 2010, what a year, seriously considering a shop keeper’s career, it was surely much better than having only M&C, GNL shocked, “How can you even think of giving up?” Ugandan success stories come from far!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Thoughts on Uganda & 9th October Independence Celebrations 2011

I appreciate now more than ever what a mistake it has been for me to let politicians’ narratives of our history be the Ugandan history narrative I have believed in all the years of my life. The narrative I have grown up with, been taught in school, varied with what was happening at the time in our country. But always, I was encouraged to think of our history as truncated, disconnected parts with a before and after. The before:-full of terrors and darkness, evil, the pre-1986. The after 1986:- era of no more roadblocks, gunshots in the night, sugar in the grocery racks, life worth living again. 

Here are my impressions of our past leaders, because of the narratives I grew up listening to, being taught: Democratic Party leader Benedicto Kiwanuka was outsmarted, Kabaka Muteesa II was confused and used, Milton Obote was power hungry with no scruples, Idi Amin was a lucky buffon who blundered his way into power, Paulo Muwanga and Oyite Ojok were thieving terrors, Tito Okello and Lutwa were tribalists, and the National Resistance Movement/Army was the first to attempt to be all inclusive, unite the country, lead us into the sunshine of our tropical weather from the jungles and forests that had become our homes because in the corrugated roofs we were always being murdered by lawless bandits and soldiers as bandits. 

Perhaps I’m as much to blame as you are that this is the accepted Ugandan national narrative? I have never offered an alternative (more out of a shocking ignorance of our collective past than for any other reason) and I sometimes chuckled with the mob when the likes of Timothy Kalyegira and Yoga Adhola attempted to craft their own histories of us as they interpreted them. Calling them propagandist cranks for diverting from the accepted national script-how dare they say Idi Amin had Uganda’s best interests at heart? Or that Milton Obote did some good? HOW DARE THEY???!  

Didn’t they see the piled up skulls in Luwero War Triangle after the war? Didn’t they see the DRUM magazine photos? Had they forgotten that it was Idi Amin who ordered the expulsion of Asians from Uganda? Or that Idi Amin was a war monger who tried to invade Tanzania, take over the Kagera? Obote wanted to put us in bed with the Communists with his Common Man’s Charter, a very dangerous step that would involve us in the Cold War (1945-1990)? Did they have answers to any of these? 

In letting the politicians set the narrative tone for us, now I see that our history is retold chapters in a war history. A series of takeovers’ & armed resistance. The rebels of yesterday, the liberators of today. The heroes of yesterday, the villains of today. All the significant events I can remember, none celebrates the everyday life and achievements of Ugandans who have always been here and will be here, even when this government no longer is, like others before them have gone. 

I do not hear a celebration of the national anthem or when it was come up with. I do not hear a grateful commemoration of the Owino-now St. Balikuddembe Market-and all the years it has been of service and continues to be. I do not hear a proud remembrance of achievers like Okot P’Bitek whose song cycle, thoughts on the African artist and an African in the world, are a world treasured heritage. I do not hear of the life of men and women who have striven, in times of wars, scarcity, danger to take in orphans they did not have to, teach them morals and how to be contributors to society, sometimes in homes like Sanyu Babies Homes or the workers who stay and stay, in rural outposts, not succumbing to despair, trying to serve. What about the innovators, the main chance hunters, those who see an opportunity quickly, instead of Dubai hopping on a plane to go for it, like the founders of Facebook groups and discussion forums like Tech We Know It try to teach all those who wish to learn? The truly inspiring company founders like Amos Wekesa of Great Lakes Safaris/Uganda Lodges

I do not hear any of them or their stories in the narrative that is Uganda or heroes plaques to them or newborns being named after them, to emulate them. I’m searching and searching but I cannot find them.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Maurice Kirya & the growth of Social Media success in Uganda

One of the most wonderful ‘benefits’ of living and working in Uganda today as a blogger and journalist is the chance to see success in the making. Uganda, as a concept, as a geographical entity, is quite young (in country years), only 49 years old, our notions on what constitute various things like success-even younger. There is no template for being successful and to watch the unconventional paths to success each person living their story to become a nationally recognised figure makes, like Maurice Kirya is becoming, is fascinating. 
Maurice Kirya is a self appointed Uganda music ambassador
Maurice Kirya’s path to success has not been the path, for example, Jose Chameleone used. Or Juliana Kanyomozi. Or Eddie Kenzo. All musicians who have a song that is played from Club Hi-fi to humble battery operated transistor all over Uganda. All their stories are wondrous, when you sit down and hear them tell how they have got to where they are. But their stories couldn’t be more ‘thrilling’ in their remarkableness than Kirya’s who started out ten years ago and is only reaping the fruits of his tenacity, hard work, luck some, but mostly forethought. 

Less than any of these other musicians, Kirya has relied on creating his fan base. I should know. I have watched him do it. From the years when former Daily Monitor journalist Moses Serugo first asked me if I had ever heard a song titled Stop to when by pure accident I happened to be at Steak Out, and Maurice came on stage to sing that very son-a difference of several months in between, when I had entirely forgotten about him and Serugo’s recommendation. Had stayed at Steak Out on Lumumba Avenue as long as I did mostly because I could not go home, was waiting for a debtor to come pay up and it was beginning to look, from the blinking time on my Siemens, he may not come, and I was wondering how I was going to walk out of here, down the dark avenue until the cheering lights of YMCA lit the way. 

Ugandan journalists should not be quoting from Barrack Obama’s use of the “new” social media to fund his 2008 USA Presidential Bid because right here in Uganda we have a singing example of a musician who has done the same to clamber his way into the limelight stage. I would go so far as to argue that were it not for the connecting social media of e-mail, MySpace (member since 10/18/2006) , Facebook (forced to open several fanpages as he exceeded the 5000 friend requests limit), YouTube (joined14 July 2009 and has over 77,000 video views) and  Twitter (where he is about to hit the 3,000 followers mark, very high for a Ugandan on twitter), Kirya would not be as well known a musician as he is today. Visit all those media and you will find his strong presence n them, right from their get go and how they have been responsible, at vital times in his career, to connecting him to persons who had gifts of support to avail and he was at the right time a click away. 
Maurice Kirya signs autographs for fans

Perhaps the biggest indicator of how much Kirya has successfully navigated online media to help his career is in how he won the most prestigious music award in his career so far-the 2010 RFI award. Kirya won that award purely relying on campaigning for his supporters to take 5 minutes, log onto the internet and click a vote for him. This is all the more impressive when you consider the field of contenders he had to overcome in that 2010 field and the fact that statistics put active Ugandan internet usage at not more than 500,000 people from a population of over 30 million. 

This is why the Maurice Kirya success story is far from fully told. The voters in the 2010 RFI award couldn’t all have been Ugandans. In looking to broaden his online experience, Kirya has ended up in the gradual process of being an international musician whose nationality happens to be Ugandan. The Maurice Kirya fans who clicked and voted in that 2010 RFI award were from all over the world, first hearing Kirya songs from his MySpace, his YouTube channel, and lately his self deprecating video messages to his fans and the curious. 

But there is no substitute for success in the “real” world. This is why you will still find Maurice Kirya going on tour. Speaking of which, again, surprising us, or maybe not, his tour dates are not where Ugandan musicians often aspire to go...

?18.10. Pointe Noire CONGO
22.10. Kinshasa DRC
25.10. Bujumbura BURUNDI
27.10. Kigali RWANDA
2.11. Khartoum SUDAN
5.11 Mbabane SWAZILAND
9.11. Addis Ababa ETHIOPIA
11.11. Flight to Entebbe
18.11. Kampala Uganda

Sunday, October 02, 2011

My Ugandan Hero

I was reading Angela Kintu’s Saying Goodbye to George Patrick Bageya and it hit me so hard how much I miss having a living, breathing, Ugandan I can call on the phone to talk to who I admire. A Ugandan who has made all the right moves and made them in a legitimate way to claw his or her way to success. Their path way to the top not besmirched by shelved Public Accounts Committee reports gathering dust next to editions of the Uganda parliament Hansard

It’s been long, oh, way too long since I had a notebook of handwritten notes of sayings by a man or woman whose life I had read up in an encyclopedia in a library, admired. Then that admiration went to study how they had lived the life they lived so that they knew all the compressed wisdom I noted in my Visa exercise books. 

I’m tired of admiring George Washington, or Winston Churchill or even Barrack Obama. Coming down to all the Bloomberg Game Changers, whose touch is in every key stroke of my life I caress on this ageing Dell whose screen blinks to sleep when it wills. If UMEME’s black outs do not strike first. 

I want to admire Uganda again and a Ugandan who lives in Ugandan. I don’t want it to be my father, who stayed when most men might not have stayed, or my mother who against daunting odds, and a world seemingly gone mad and with a private vendetta against her family did not renounce a name that it would, in a heartbeat, gun nuzzle against her throat, it would have been easy to renounce, deny and start her sons on a life of lies, fitting seamlessly like a stitch from Kiyembe lane would in a cloth, in the “new” Uganda a fundamental change was smelting into being. 

I want to admire another Ugandan, no relation or tribe to me. Just a Ugandan whose excellence recommends itself to me. Impressing me not by academic prowess acquired in foreign climes set by foreign standards that can only earn an MBA salary but guarantee no Google world changing brain work. I want to find a Ugandan to admire whose contribution is in my life, without that Ugandan attempting to make beholden in eternal gratitude. 

I’m in serious need of a Ugandan hero, do you know any?