Down the memory lane with Kadongo kamu greats

Tuesday October 2 2012

Willy Mukabya (above), being held by the collar. Left is Lord Fred Ssebatta.

Willy Mukabya (above), being held by the collar. Left is Lord Fred Ssebatta. PHOTOS BY EDGAR R. BATTE 

By EDGAR R. BATTE

When you bring names like Matia Luyima, Matia Kakumirizi, Dan Mugula, Harriet Nabitaka, Deo Sebuguzi, Betty Nabulya, Harriet Sanyu, Lord Fred Ssebatta, Sauda Batenda alias Nakakaawa, David Kizito alias Koloneeri and Willy Mukabya together then it is a musical walk back to the good old Kadongo Kamu days.

This was the experience for the revellers that braved the cold to be part of the all-Kadongo Kamu music fete dubbed Buganda ne Kadongo Kamu, at Kyaddondo Rugby grounds.

The listed artistes are not the usual on the average music shows in town yet their names are familiar, not just to the young but their parents too. So if there is one thing that bridges generations, then it is these artistes, excuse the fact that a few of us do not like to proudly identify with Kadongo Kamu, which is viewed as less funky and hip or in todays speak, has no swag.
It is the genre of music, which takes its name from the way it was originally delivery as musicians accompanied their long narratives with one guitar.

Each song as artiste after another came on stage, took averagely 10 minutes as they shared messages through deep lyrics and emphatic verbal, melodic expression, dealing with subjects like love, politics, woman emancipation, history among other topics.

From Matia Luyima’s Ssepiriya, there was evidence of good poetry and diction all fused well in 23 minutes, making it one of the longest and most dramatic local songs ever recorded. Just as portrayed in the music video, all four performers of the song, including Luyima acting as Ssepiriya, his elder wife Kadulubale, his newly-wed Nakakawa and bossom friend Koloneri were on stage putting actions to the lyrics of the hilarious wedding song.

But the emotion was not lost as Fred Ssebatta crowned it all with good and moving lyrics from some of his songs before he called on Fred Ssebale whom he helped nurture. The two buried their hatchet on stage and performed a song together to ululations from the audience.

The venue did not work in favour of most revellers who would have done better and perhaps come in more numbers if the music fete had been hosted at, say Nakivubo Stadium. The Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi who was expected to grace the fete did not turn up, perhaps owing to the heavy downpour that made navigating the Friday afternoon traffic a menace.

One of the organisers, Mark Makumbi kept profiling the genre which dates as far back as the late 1940s when the late Elly Wamala and Eclas Kawalya were starting out as artistes through to the likes of the Herman Basudde (R.I.P), Livingstone Kasozi (R.I.P), Ssebatta and Paul Job Kafeero (R.I.P) who remains one of the most outstanding artistes this land has seen.

This flavour of music, perhaps Uganda’s only unadulterated music genre is still on the rise and has this year seen some good productions like Bakoowu by Mathias Walukaga and Gundi Okuze, a cheeky one by Gerald Kiweewa. Mainstream artistes like Bobi Wine have borrowed greatly from Kadongo Kamu’s narrative style though their beats are more upbeat.

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Rich History
Decades of a genre. Perhaps the first well known artist of the genre was Fred Masagazi (R.I.P) in the 60s. Masagazi is considered by many as the God father of Kadongo Kamu. His brand of educative singing won him many fans and he is one of the few musicians who was involved with Uganda’s independence in 1962. Herman Basudde (R.I.P) was a very popular Kadongo Kamu musician in the 80s and 90s. Dan Mugula is one of the few surviving pioneers of the genre. Fred Sebatta and Paul Kafeero made their mark in the 90s. Kafeero is also revered as one of the most skillful Kadongo Kamu musicians ever and his song Walumbe Zaaya is one of the most popular Ugandan songs ever. Today, the likes of Fred Sebaale, Gerald Kiweewa and Mathias Walukagga are enjoying success in the genre.

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