I have more than five years’ working experience in the Media industry.
I wield a skillful pen as a Journalist, and I'm presently a Freelance features writer at the "Features Desk" of the “New Vision”- Uganda’s premier Newspaper.
Before I joined the New Vision, I had worked as a Broadcast Journalist with Signal FM radio in Mbale, Eastern Uganda.
My weekly Hip Hop four hour show packed a punch and was very popular with the youth in Eastern Uganda.
Writing Poetry and Rapping [ I'm the pioneer of Luma-Flow-(Lumaasaba Hip Hop Music) and I have 5 albums under my belt].
Playing basketball-Several medals and Certificates received for playing the game
Philanthropy and social activism
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After nine years of hibernation, Ugandan Hip Hop veteran Jeff Kintu aka-Lyrical G is back with a gritty and cohesive repertoire of beat shredding flows, synth-heavy compositions and rhymes for his ninth studio offering, simply entitled “Geezy.”
Geezy Album Official Video
Geezy in urban slang means good or gangster. The gangster-bit is however used jokingly.
For good measure, the 15 track album, produced almost entirely by Lyrical G, has a feel-good vibe to it.
He is joined for the ride by a slew of rappers, to wit-GNL Zamba, Mc Yallah, St Nellysade, Judas Rap Knowledge Key Nemesis, Foever, among others.
On the album, Lyrical G [L.G] sticks to his blueprint-which is effortlessly juxtaposing commanding and unadulterated Hip Hop lyricism over high caliber beats and sound beds.
It is quite evident that he worked on fine-tuning his rap skills during his hiatus, which saw him fly to the UAE for work.
Times have changed since L.G last dropped an album in 2014 but as the often averse to hip hop media people, many of whom are used to people unflattering the genre by rapping on afro ragga beats; found out at a listening party, he held for them on the 14th of October at the Atmosphere Lounge in Kololo, the rap veteran is not about to alter his musical palette.
The Geezy album starts on a buoyant note with the self-produced “Keep it lit”.
The song sets a bouncy tone for the album, with his flow meshing perfectly as he reminds everyone about his lyrical skills with metaphors and brag laced lines like “Mic don- rock shows-last of the realest-that feel good shhhh that has the right ingredients-go ahead place your bets on me-the way I rock mics-I may need an exorcist- extra cold with it, low pro-I’m a savage, back with tight flows, no joke above average”
On the euphonious "Atamukutte [yah yeah]" a Koz&Effekt produced song, which ostensibly is the album’s lead single, L.G holds down the fort, enumerating why he still has to be reckoned among the best Hip Hop wordsmiths in the country, over some captivating Bakisimba infused rhythms.
On the exciting trap-ish- “Ndi Mukyamu”-feat talented newcomer Sliq Teq, L.G manifests why he is in a league of his own with commanding sleek lines like:
“I came in the game as a youngin/ Straight from the depths of a dungeon/ I made a name out of nothing/ this ain't rap, this is outrage/.
GNL Zamba, who has a new album in the works, makes a noteworthy and strong appearance on “Been Bout My Thang”, one of the album’s best ditties.
Other notable songs on the album are “Worthy” where L.G raps about his introspective reverence for God; “Wetuli”-where he showcases his tongue-twisting wordplay flow skills and “Float”- a Love song, where he gets lovey-dovey and waxes lyrical about his significant other.
On “Never Knew Pain”- an ode to his late mum, Barbara Kintu, L.G wears his heart on his sleeve-as he plaintively reminisces about her.
Strong as it, L.G’s comeback project is however not without flaws. Rustiness shows on un-inspired verses from some of his guests like Ossie Entrance and B-Money on the “Tuli Majje” song.
And while his Lyrical skill set has been raised a notch above on this album, his self-production does not always impress and fill in the gaps. The “Tuli Majje” and “Keep it lit” sound beds do not come off as sturdy enough.
At issue too, is the lack of wide-ranging subject matter. It is okay to brag and to use hyperbole when you rap. We all know, it is a part of Hip Hop, but when you have proved, through the years, that you are a dab hand at it like L.G has, it is only right, you spread your wings.
Granted songs like “Worthy” and “Never Knew Pain” showcase bars full of substance, but his scope can be and should be widened further, on his next project.
Barring those few missteps, there is no doubt that this project is respectable. It will appeal to both experienced and new millennial listeners. While it is not his magnum opus or best project, L.G still manages to show that passion for your craft and remaining true to yourself are the key ingredients to longevity.
Lyrical G-made his rap debut in 1994 and has four Pearl of Africa music award accolades to his name.
He released his first single “Ato’oba” with his former group Bataka Underground in 1999.
Together with his young brother AKay47 and friends, he later formed the group Urban Thugz (which later became Urban Life) in 2000.
He recorded his first single ‘Nothing Compares’ with Urban Life in 2001 after they won a recording deal for being the best upcoming group at the Sanyu FM music Carnival.
In mid-2002, he embarked on a solo career and has appeared on songs with Uganda's finest acts such as Juliana, Blu 3, Mesarch Semakula, Sofia Gombya, Peter Miles, Kid Fox, Sweet Kid, among others.
He released his first album "Live from East Africa" in 2004. The album spawned the hit single-“East African Party”, which catapulted him to fame. He followed up his debut with the "Narudi" album in 2006, "First and Flow Most" in 2007. Six more projects followed thereafter, the latest being-Geezy.
In Uganda's chequered Hip Hop industry, the spotlight has always been unfairly cast on Kampala based artists, their music and trails they blaze.
For a long time, media coverage and public space conversations about talented upcountry Hip Hop artists on missions to expand the genre’s horizons in their indigenous languages have been only occasional and not pronounced enough.
Aside of song collaborations with established Hip Hop artists from Kampala, to occasional song plays on radios such as HOT 100 to Radio City and nominations for Hip Hop industry awards; talented Hip Hop artists from upcountry such as T-bro, Judas Rap Knowledge, Byg Ben Sukuya, Amani Amaniga, Crazie Wispa, and many others, continue to play second fiddle to their colleagues from Kampala.
There are however, upcountry Hip Hop artists who despite not being given a fair shake in terms of respect, promotion and media publicity, are expanding the genre’s horizons to depths their colleagues in Kampala, who have been in the game longer, can only dream of.
“Upcountry Hip Hop artists, especially those from Gulu in the North of Uganda and Kigezi, are far from the blackballed rappers in Kampala, as they have respected followings in their home areas,” Ronald Odongo, a Gulu radio host and blogger, says.
UPCOUNTRY HIP HOP ARTISTS CREATING A BUZZ FOR THE GENRE
Gulu has a gifted and firm Hip Hop flag bearer in Judas Rap Knowledge aka Lapwong or teacher. Knowledge’s strength is his ability to craft rhymes and rap them fluently and commandingly in both English and Acholi.
His "Labong and Gipir” album was pretty much a showcase of his strong emceeing skills as he went back and forth, rhyming adeptly on various issues such as poverty, war, love, partying, among others.
Just like Lumix who was the first genuine Hip Hop star from Gulu, Knowledge has a rising fan base in Gulu and neighboring districts. He also has a sizable social media following.
The 2019-256 Hip Hop awards People’s Champ winner has his rap posse called Soulz of Afrika and his “To the Top” single-off his forthcoming, yet to be titled, studio album-was recently voted the 256 song of August.
He also features on Ugandan rap legend-Lyrical G’s new album-GEEZY.
“If there is one person, Hip Hop can look up to in the North, after the demise of Lumix, it is Knowledge. He gives a good account of himself, lyrically, whether he is rapping in English or Acholi,” Arnold Muduni, a Hip Hop producer at KYA studios in Kirinya, Bweyogerere, says.
In Western Uganda, there is a Hip Hop trailblazer by the names of T-Bro. T-Bro, who is not a newcomer, by any long shot, is associated with Kiga-flow or rap in Rukiga.
He recently won the Western rapper of the year honor at the 2019 MTN Hip Hop awards. Unlike Judas Rap Knowledge, who is a purist with his lyricism, T-Bro tries out other genres such as afro-beat. In many ways, that has helped get him into the good graces of many people in the Kigezi region.
Recently, T-Bro left fans spellbound with his performance at the All-Star tour in Kabale, with songs such as “hustler”, “Kigangstar”, “Hija Ondarire” and “ne must” one of his newest songs. One of his strong musical stocks in trade is his powerful commanding voice and stage presence.
Unlike Judas Rap Knowledge, T-Bro’s Kiga-flow music, some of which features Kampala based artists such as Lady Slyke, GNL, Keko, and the Mith has enjoyed some considerable rotation on Kampala radios such as Hot 100 and Radio City. His songs are also highly popular with the Banakigezi in the diaspora.
T-Bro’s first mixtape was titled "The black man's dream". It spawned hit singles such as "Omukiga and Jazza".
From Eastern Uganda, there is a flame-throwing talent by the name of Byg Ben Sukuya. Sukuya, who has carved out a name for himself in Mbale and Kampala, partly due to his go-getter manager’s fat wallet, raps in English and Lumasaaba.
Sukuya won the 2016 Best Eastern rapper of the year and has since gone on to release fan-favorite songs such as Ndolelele-denoting “look at me”.
From Arua in West Nile; there is the Lugbara flow-flag bearer-Milton Maopini, also known as Gbaraspoken. Gbaraspoken is not only a rapper however, but he is also a community social worker and spoken word poet.
“With his vibe and charisma, Gbaraspoken, who is the reigning West Nile Hip Hop artist of the year, may just be the second-best thing that ever happened to the West Nile region, since Onduparaka F.C. [Pun intended],” Odongo says.
Gbaraspoken has a huge social media following and usually packs venues to the rafters when he has performances in West Nile.
His songs like “Ma Osura”, “Aparaka Yo”, Orataa, Ketura, camasi ‘bo, Testify, Bile Seza, Ewule Ewule enjoy regular rotation on F.M radios in the West Nile region.
He also has a huge following among West Nilers in the diaspora.
As a means of engaging the youth of West Nile in meaningful livelihoods, Gbaraspoken founded the community-based Hip Hop organisation Platform 503, in 2015.
He released his first Hip Hop album-entitled- Aparaka Yo, that very year. The eleven-track album turned out to be the first Hip Hop album to be launched in West Nile.
From the Bunyoro sub-region, there is the Runyo-flow trailblazer, going by the stage name of Crazie Wispa. His real moniker, however, is Benard Ayesiga and he hails from Masindi.
Wispa's song-“Bunyoro Hatuli” is, by all accounts, an anthem of sorts in the Bunyoro sub-region. He also enjoys a big social media following and is currently under the Hip Hop movement known as the Abarusuura foundation, which advocates for the Hip Hop revolution in the Bunyoro region.
From the Switzerland of Africa-Kabale to be precise, there is another Kiga flow mastermind, who goes by the rather intriguing stage name of Amani Amaniggar. His real name, however, is Asuman Byaruhanga.
“We refer to him-as Kiga flow’s most wanted, and in recent years, he has added several stripes to his name, on account of putting out good music, laced with clever wordplay and metaphors,” Fred Ngabirano, a Kabale radio host and well-wisher of the Bakiga nation, a non-governmental organisation, says.
In 2016, Amaniggar was voted the best western rapper at the 2016 Uganda Hip Hop Awards. He was also voted the 2014 and 2015 artist of the year at the Kigezi music and media awards.
Amaniggar who started as a Karaoke singer in 2004 has established a big buzz for himself in the Kigezi sub-region and like T-Bro, he basks in a glow of fan love, whenever he performs.
Amaniggar’s star rose to the ascendant after he released his first single "Omukiga Womuniga".
The song endeared him to many in the Kigezi region and beyond.
“He did not rest on his laurels after the success of his debut song, however.
He went to record other captivating songs such as "Kemerwa", "Oraba Orandabaho", "Kyahwire", "Guma", “Zagwa”,” Ngabirano says.
Most far-flung areas of Western Uganda are replete with vast and lush canopies of banana farmland.
To all appearances, it speaks huge volumes about the region’s rich-soil fertility.
One would be naive however to assume that it is only the region’s soil fertility which has engendered this enormous high banana productivity.
Uganda’s western region is the nation’s premier producer and supplier of bananas; also, on account of the significant merits of the two-year scalable technology/Intervention called the Single-Diseased Stem Removal [SDSR] project, funded by the Roots-Tubers and Bananas (RTB) scaling Fund and a four-years’ improving scalable banana agronomy for small-scale farmers in highland banana cropping systems in East Africa project.
The Single-Diseased Stem Removal project is being implemented in the three Ugandan districts of Isingiro, Bunyangabu, and Nakaseke.
The scaling fund project which is being championed by Bioversity International, Uganda, in tandem with Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) has helped smallholder banana farmers like 39 year old Nestori Nteziyaremye of Kakogga parish, Rwimi sub-county in Bunyangabu district, in western Uganda, to significantly increase on their banana yields.
Nteziyaremye, a happy go lucky father of three hitherto struggled to increase his yields because his plantation was invariably inundated by the dangerous banana Xanthomonas wilt, also known as BXW.
“I was hard-pressed before because most of my banana plants were infected and that was because I did not have proper knowledge on how to fight the disease, I used to simply cut and bury the infected wilted plants in my plantation. In a day, I could cut and bury ten to fifteen infected banana plants. That meant, I had to sell those I harvested at a pittance. Each went for Uganda shillings 5,000 [$1.33],” Nteziyaremye says.
“There was a new lease of life, after I put into execution some of the practices, I was taught by NARO, this year, like the regular cutting of symptomatic banana stems in his plantation, sterilization of cutting tools using fire or Jik [sodium hypochlorite] and de-budding banana plants using a forked stick instead of a knife,” he adds.
“The upshot has been improved livelihood for Nteziyaremye’s family shown forth in the better education, clothing, water, and meals, he provides to his children.
In many ways too, Nteziyaremye’s improved banana farming fortunes have steadily had a ripple effect in his community.
At present, many of Nteziyaremye’s neighbors accost him, often in his three-acre plantation to pick his mind on how they can also fight off BXW, which, according to local scaling agent, Silver Tumukuratire was a big threat to banana farmers in Bunyangabu district.
“Before this SDSR intervention, the local government had gone out of its way to fight BXW, using extension workers with little success. The majority of farmers used to simply cut and discard every diseased banana plant in their plantations. There was a change after farmers got the SDSR training,” Tumukuratire says.
Like Nteziyaremye, Federesi Kenema, a 38-year-old amiable mother of five-says her banana farming fortunes have gotten better since she was trained by NARO at the behest of a friend.
Before the training, Kenema was literally-in the dark about how to deal with BXW, which had plagued her plantation. Her banana plantation in Kakinga village in Rwimi sub-county in Bunyangabu district was always devastated by the wilt and as a control measure, she would ill-advisedly uproot majority of her bananas.
“I would notice that many of my bananas had gotten ripe whilst still young. Their leaves would turn brown and wilt often and when I would cut the pseudostem, it would ooze a yellowish liquid. It seemed as if the wilt was spreading from one sick plant to another but much as I racked my brain, I could not come up with any plausible clues on how it was happening.”
“The experts who were conducting the training came to my plantation and saw firsthand how it had been adversely affected by BXW. I was trained thereafter in the adaptive technology of SDSR and other packages like sterilizing cutting tools and bending of dried leaves in heavily infected plantations,” Kenema explains.
Before, a farmer friend talked her into it cutting all diseased bananas, from her plantation, rationalizing that it was the only antidote. Unknowingly, however, the practice played havoc with the soil structure in her plantation, affecting its fertility and it was very labor-intensive, to boot.
At length, after seeing how counter-productive, the practice of complete mat removal had been, Kenema adopted the SDSR control package.
“I wanted to control the spread of BXW and I was told, if that was going to be possible, I would have to regularly cut each infected stem at ground level, instead of uprooting the whole mat,” Kenema recounts.
“Because bees frequently spread the wilt by moving back and forth between the male buds of banana plants, I was advised to remove male buds from my un-infected banana plants with a forked stick, instead of using knives or pangas, which easily spread the infection,” Kenema adds
“The experts also advised me to sterilize farm cutting tools like knives and pangas with fire or Jik whenever I used them to prune. In many respects, the incidence of the disease, reduced after I employed those practices. My banana plantation is flourishing. I now harvest more sturdy banana bunches; meaning I can now sell at more competitive prices to the ever-increasing banana buyers from across the country and from Rwanda.”
In the past, at the peak of BXW, Kenema could only harvest 7-12 small size bunches, every fortnight and each bunch went for a paltry price of Uganda shillings-7,000, equivalent to [$1.86]. Now, thanks to the new practices, she employs, she harvests 20-40 bunches, every fortnight. She sells each bunch depending on the size and season between Uganda shillings 10,000 to 15,000 [$2.65 to 3.97].
Kenema has been able to improve her family’s standards of living, with better monthly profits, worth Uganda shillings 650,000 [$172.25]
Henry Turyakira, 45, a smallholder banana farmer in Kakinga village in Rwimi sub-county [Bunyangabu district] has an experiential narrative similar to Kenema’s regarding improving fortunes on his farm.
The good-natured father of six has been growing and selling bananas for the last 20 years on a 5-acre piece of land. In 2009, his banana plantation suffered a devastating BXW attack. As a consequence, he lost a big number of his banana plants.
“The solutions proposed to me, as I grappled with the bacterial wilt attack, at that time, by experts from National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS)-like cutting all infected banana stems and burying them, seemed workable, at the threshold, but in reality, there was little change,” Turyakira recalls.
“The infection still spread, and I spent a lot of money hiring people to clear the plantation. But soon as I started removing only infected plants, de-budding using a forked stick and using the fire-flame method to sterilize farm tools, after every working on a plant, before moving onto another, as advised later, by experts from NARO, the disease incidence reduced.”
The outturn, Turyakira says has been a reduction in yield loss and increased income. He hardly cuts down any plants lately, because he has controlled the disease. From producing 10-15 bunches, every fortnight, at the peak of the bacterial wilt attack, he is now able to produce, on average 30-45 sturdy banana bunches. He sells every bunch at Ugandan shillings 10,000 [$2.65].
With that has come enhanced income, better reserves for food security and better prospects for his family. He is now able to educate his children in better schools and also provide better clothing and food.
Another farmer basking in a glow of happiness after the NARO SDSR training is Alice Namanya, 35, a mother of three in Kakamisa village in Isingiro district. Namanya says the knowledge she acquired after the NARO training such as early male bud removal, cutting of single diseased banana plants and dispensing of them and sterilization of cutting tools at her farm, enabled her to reduce the incidence of BXW on her plantation.
Namanya, who has been a banana farmer for the last seven years, says before the training, she would cut down, on average 15 diseased plants from her plantation. In some months, I almost had no yields. At present, I do not cut down any plants and I harvest up to 45 big size bananas every fortnight,” Namanya says.
Her monthly profits are to the tune of Uganda shillings 500,000 [$132.5]. Taking a long view, Namanya anticipates expanding her plantation.
Annet Natukunda, a smallholder banana farmer from Nabuziba Parish, Isingiro district, also speaks of the NARO SDSR training in high terms.
Just a few years back, her eight-acre plantation was adversely affected by BXW. She employed the technologies she was taught by NARO and as things stand now, Natukunda harvests between thirty to thirty-five bunches of bananas, every two weeks. Previously she only harvested between ten to fifteen bunches and she would sell a bunch at sh7, 000 ($1.91). Now she sells a bunch at sh10, 000 ($2.73).
Dr. Jerome Kubiribira, head of the National Banana Research Programme at NARO says before the project took root in 2013, the incidence of BXW was high.
“The BXW had reached very high levels around 2012 in many areas of western and southern Uganda because of the reduced engagement of stakeholders in fighting the disease. The overall incidence that affected farmers was way above 50%, meaning out of every 100 farmers, visited, more than 50 would have their plants affected,” Kubiribira says.
“The adoption of the SDSR interventions has however caused a positive impact. The incidence of the disease has greatly gone down.”
Dr. Enoch Kikulwe, an agricultural economist, under the Development Impact Unit of Bioversity International, echoes Kubiribira’s view, noting that the disease posed a grave threat to household food security and livelihoods.
“BXW laid waste to vast swathes of banana plantations in western and southern Uganda. Its incidence was high despite some earlier measures to control it. The SDSR intervention has however been a game-changer. At the start, our target was to reach 7,000 farmers with SDSR. Thus far, we have reached 5,000 farmers and information about this intervention and other banana agronomy technologies are still being spread through radio adverts, drama shows, and extension guides. The remaining farmers will be reached in the next few months,” Kikulwe says.
A brief on what the farmers training sessions involved
Farmers were given lessons on how to regularly cut symptomatic banana stems [Xanthomonas wilt infected stems] in their plantations.
They were also given lessons on how to sterilize their farm cutting inputs such as pangas and knives, using fire or Jik [sodium hypochlorite] and de-budding banana plants using a forked stick instead of a knife.
De-budding, for starters, is the removal of the male bud by twisting with a forked stick as soon as the last cluster is formed.
Lessons were also given on bending leaves instead of cutting them in infected banana plantations.
For good measure, farmers were trained on disease epidemiology, recognition and knowledge sharing.
The banana Xanthomonas wilt, which is a non-curable infectious plant pathogen, broke out in Uganda in 2001.
It is a major threat to banana production in East and Central Africa, which ostensibly can cause up to 100% yield loss. That magnitude of yield loss would threaten food security and the incomes of many smallholder farmers in Sub Saharan Africa, who rely on banana farming as their source of livelihood.
Unlike other banana diseases, the impact of the banana Xanthomonas wilt on bananas is intense and brisk.
When the wilt attacks banana plants, there are drastic declines in yield, sales, consumption, and household incomes.