In part 2 of this podcast, I continue shining a spotlight on the legacies of other music greats such as Tony Allen [Afrobeat co-creator], Mory Kanté [renowned Guinean vocalist and Kora player] Ahmed Ismail Hussein [Somali Music icon], Ty [acclaimed British/Nigerian Hip Hop star], Fred the Godson [New York Hip Hop star] Betty Wright [RNB legend], Little Richard [father of Modern Rock N Roll], who have fallen during these COVID-19 times.
In part one of this Podcast, I shine a spotlight on three Fallen African music Legends (Aurlus Mabele, Manu Dibango, and Joseph Shabalala) who have passed on during these apprehensive COVID-19 times.
Ugandan researchers have developed an inexpensive COVID-19 test kit that can deliver results quickly, offering hope for a “homegrown solution” to sub-Saharan Africa’s testing needs.
In this Podcast, I give you a flavour of some of the greatest Ugandan Hip Hop songs of the past decade.
One early morning 34 years ago, in the twilight days of January, the hurly-burly of life at St Mary’s College Kisubi, one of Uganda’s premier secondary schools was thrown out of gear when a group of haggard-looking government soldiers, fleeing from disheveled but heavily armed National Resistance Army [NRA] rebel soldiers scampered through the school compound.
Several volleys of automatic gunfire had earlier been heard, not far away from the school. None of the petrified students who were at the College that day had ever imagined that their school would become a flashpoint of conflict.
“It was the morning of either the 23rd or 24th of January-1986. The school had just re-opened after a holiday recess. I was in S3 then and we were in class when several rounds of automatic gunfire started going off. The firing went on for a while and then we saw government soldiers running through the compound-shedding their uniform as they fled towards the lakeside,” Andrew Magona, one of the old students, calls to mind.
“Shortly after, we saw young boys in rugs, barefoot and armed to the teeth, giving chase in what we later found was a surprise NRA attack to cut off Kampala from Entebbe.”
Ronald Mutumba, now a certified Public Accountant vividly remembers that day.
“That morning, I remember one of my roommates hastily waking me up. I was not accustomed to rising early. Because of fright, I did not even have breakfast. I remember joining other students as we figured ways of staying safe.”
Luckily for the students, the rebel soldiers were not the forbidding type.
“They were amiable and approachable. That gave us the confidence to accost them and have a chat. By the time, the rebels got back to the College, after pursuing government soldiers, some of our colleagues had picked up some discarded boots from fleeing government soldiers and had tried them on,” Magona recalls.
The rebels who by then had gotten the worst of some back and forth battles with government forces in a bid to capture Entebbe knew that their presence at the college raised the specter of a government reprisal attack and so they advised the students later on in the day to find their way to Kings College Buddo through Kawuku.
The rebels who were under the NRA's 5th battalion rationalized that Buddo would be a good sanctuary for the students since it was in an area that was under their control.
When the students led by Brother Peter Kazzekulya, who was the school’s headteacher reached Kawuku, they were advised to eschew using the main road.
They moved along a tiny checkered footpath that led them to villages such as Ssisa, Nakonge, Nsaggu, among others.
When the students with their headteacher got to Ssisa, which is about five kilometers from Kawuku, it was decided that they would camp for the night at St Peter’s Primary School.
“That night the Milky Way was resplendent with shining stars. Many of us just gazed and feasted our eyes on the starlit sky for most of the night. Very few people slept,” Nick Mujira, an old boy and now the proprietor of Inspection and Certification Company, Inspecta Africa Limited, recollects.
Earlier on as the sun hit its twilight that day, the students heard government helicopter gunships hovering through the skies.
“We had earlier been advised by the rebels to leave spaces between each other as we slept as a means of eschewing death in the event of a government helicopter attack,” Andrew Yawe, one of the old boys tells Masaabachronicle.
Rather ill-advisedly the next day, the students were given the cue to head back to the college. It was a false dawn. A few kilometers into their trek back, sounds of heavy gunfire rang out as government forces fired on fleeing rebels. The rebels met up with the students.
“The rebels were making a tactical withdrawal. There was pell-mell as we took to our heels. Everyone ran. That day was a far cry from the previous day when we calmly walked and reached the Primary school without much incident. In the process of fleeing however a stray bullet ripped through a shoe of one of our colleagues who has since passed on. The bullet grazed his ankle, causing even more panic,” Magona recalls.
Reliving the experience
On Saturday 7th March, about 55 of the College’s old boys, who lived through the chilling scare gathered to relieve the experience, principally reenacting the grueling 25km trek they made as they sought to reach Buddo in 1986.
It wasn’t just walking however for the students, most of whom were teenagers then. On occasion, they ran especially when they had gunshots.
At the crack of dawn, as glints of sunshine penetrated the school horizon, the nostalgic jaunty trekkers were flagged off from the College’s football pitch by Kazzekulya.
Dressed in tracksuits, custom made t-shirts, sneakers and shorts, the trekkers who included Fabian Kasi-the Centenary Bank Managing Director of, Brother Francis Aganze-deputy headteacher of SMACK then, Eng. Godfrey Kaaya, Godber Tumushabe- the Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies-Associate Director, Nick Mujira- the Inspecta Africa managing director, Charles Odaga-the Finance Trust Customer Service Manager and also the President of the SMACK old boys association seemed buoyed as we approached Kawuku.
Have a listen here to Linambo [Lumasaaba for Nation]; a narrative and message-driven Lumasaba Hip Hop song-which speaks to the pressing issues in our country, in your home town, village, etc
It's off the album-Bityabirye [How are things going]
The bloom has steadily been falling off the rose of Uganda's oldest musical genre-Is Kadongo Kamu dying a slow death?
Have a listen here to the last edition of my Kadongo Kamu Podcast
Kadongo Kamu music, which ostensibly is Uganda’s oldest musical genre, is what many people in the country like to call-thought-provoking music. A far cry from today’s afro-beat/pop sounds, it is in many ways, Uganda’s equivalent of America’s country music.
While growing at a much slower rate, compared to that of countries like Kenya, Uganda’s male grooming industry has steadily been making inroads.
Several estheticians in Kampala contend that the industry will likely bask in more glows, as more Ugandan men, strive to look good in the New Year.
In many of the country’s urban centers, facial moisturizing, pedicure and manicure parlours are now, not just exclusive to women. Gender barriers are increasing being broken as more upper-class and middle-class men frequent them to keep their nails, beards, teeth, skin, hair, and toes in mint condition.
“Increasingly, more Ugandan men are embracing grooming and self-care [regular facials, trimming of beards, keeping hair neat, trimming of finger and toenails, skincare, etc].
A smart preened and polished outward appearance is what every man should strive for in this New Year,” Catherine Onyait of the Ntinda Unisex salon and cosmetics clinic, told Masaabachronicle.
One of the first grooming basics, men should live by this New Year, according to Onyait, is to regularly shave and keep their beads clean. The disheveled and rugged look should be a thing of the past.
“Beards grow rather fast so shaving once every week is advisable. It is important to wash your beard daily, with a gentle beard shampoo using a cloth or sponge, because they easily pick up dust, food and other particles throughout the day,” Abdullah Ali Halage, a lecturer at Makerere’s School of Public Health, says.
“If you experience beard dandruff, use a dandruff specific product like gentle Vikings beard or beard wash. If you struggle with skin irritant razor bumps, which usually occur when inflamed hair follicles become infected by fungus or bacteria, ditch the razor. Use it only when you have some good pre-shave creams or oil.”
Ostensibly, using a shaving cream ensures a smoother shave and lubricates your skin, making it easier for the razor's edge to glide across the skin surface.
“The best bet; however, is to buy an electric clipper/trimmer for oneself or to go to the salon. Clippers are the best for grooming the beard, stubbles and mustache area,” Halage says.
To steer clear of razor bumps as well, do not stretch your skin when shaving, and at all times, shave in the direction your beard grows. After shaving, press a cold, wet cloth against your face for five minutes,” Onyait advises.
By all accounts, shaving pubic hair is also a good hygiene practice; men should embrace in the New Year.
“Electric clippers and disposable cartridge safety razor blades usually do the job, well, though the cartridge safety razor blades get clogged with hair, as one trims,” Dermatologist Dennis Wandukwa of Mukhuwa health center in Mbale, says.
Like any other ardent basketball acolyte, NBA fan and erstwhile basketball player, I was crushed upon hearing of Kobe Bryant’s death at the crack of dawn, today.
Bryant was a larger than life basketball icon, who made many people fall in love with the sport; on account of his relentless competitive drive and zeal to win. In the early days of his career, he made scoring in a basketball game look easy like shooting fish in a barrel but he was no easy act to follow.
You had to have some extraordinary flair to be on the level of Bryant.
BBC radio rang the knell of Bryant’s demise in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California as I was going through my daily early morning 100 push-ups regime. I was 56 pushups in and once I heard the sad news, it just put a huge damper on me that I couldn’t continue.
The fact that he died with Gianna Bryant-his 13-year-old daughter, just exacerbated the sadness. Gianna was a budding basketball player herself, who had dreams of playing in America’s top women’s basketball league-the WNBA.
Like many basketball acolytes across the globe, I am still in shock.
Upon hearing the news, my mind was cast back to the depressing day, last year, when the devastating news of my 17-year-old nephew’s death reached me. Roy Madete was a student at SMACK and he also passed on unexpectedly. I was devastated beyond measure, just like I am today.
I did not know Bryant personally but because he was somebody my teammates and I really admired, venerated and looked up to, and because he was a very supportive family man and supporter of global projects aimed at popularizing the game of basketball, it just seemed as if we knew him.
The basketball world is beholden to Bryant. The glowing tributes that are still flowing in from players in the NBA, from Africa, Europe, Asia, etc; in the wake of his death speak to that fact.
The tributes have come from across the spectrum, including from prominent people like President Donald Trump, his Los Angeles teammate-Shaquille Oneal, from the National Catholic Register, among others.
In Uganda, there are glowing tributes on the Federation of Uganda Basketball Association Facebook page and the page of the National Champions-the City Oilers.
One of my erstwhile teammates [Danny Miles] who I played the game with in High school, at University, and club level admired Kobe so much that he wore his number 8 and 24 jerseys, every time we trained and for good measure, he played Kobe’s music every time we trained. Yes, Kobe did some music too.
Bryant was a joy to watch when he stepped on the basketball court. He wore his heart on his sleeve and brought down the house every time he played, whether it was in guarding opponents, shooting threes or dunking the ball on an offensive play. Many of my teammates mirrored their games on Bryant’s game.
I was not the biggest fan of Bryant’s team-the Los Angeles Lakers, like most of my friends, but there is no way, you could gloss over his peerless skills on the basketball court, even though, on occasion, he seemed selfish with the ball.
Bryant was, in many ways, basketball’s poster Child after Michael Jordon’s retirement. Though he had to deal with a lot of blowback and criticism, earlier on in his career, principally that he had mirrored his game, to that of Jordon, he, at length, carved out his niche and went on to win five NBA Championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and two gold medals for Team USA.
Bryant will be dearly missed by the world of Basketball and of course by his family. One can only imagine the grief, his wife is going through. May God strengthen her. Bryant inspired many across the globe to play the game with a passion.
In Abraham’s bosom, he will still play with his daughter.
His death reminds us that tomorrow is not promised to any of us. In our own country, we dice with death every day, given our lifestyles, state of our roads, etc.
Bryant has gone the way of all flesh but his legacy as one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball will forever be illuminated.
In this podcast, below, I make a case for Kadongo Kamu music as Uganda's best music genre ever, given its pedigree of delivering message-driven and proverb-filled-educative music.