Stripping the emperor naked

Saturday October 17 2015

A poet recites a poem at the Uganda Museum.

A poet recites a poem at the Uganda Museum. courtesy photo 

By Douglas D. Sebamala

While the nation marked her 53rd Independence celebrations, a group of poets met at the Uganda Museum to muse about this journey to independence in a themed night “Who Broke the Emperor’s Testicles?”
Whether they painted how the Union Jack came falling down for our own black-yellow-red or pined about pseudo independence that has got this nation begging from the same colonial masters we sought freedom, these revolutionaries spoke with passion.
To answer the question in the theme, more than 10 poets performed around a bonfire with artistic backdrop from graffiti.

The fires scorched and the wood smoked but the intensity of the word of these young creative left one pondering over the state of this nation. Perhaps the emperor could be signaled in mention of names like Idi Amin, Museveni, or Obote, but judgment was left to the ear.
Sighs of emotional resonance trickled through Rehema Nanfuka’s delivery which told of the cloud of despair hovering over this country, unfulfilled dreams after independence, recounting past presidents, their failures, blood shed, pain and misery, vis-à-vis the infinite possibilities, quizzing “What is the use of getting independence when the country does not belong to us?”

Cry for freedom
The eloquent Norah Namara, in artistic dress swayed with words of sermon (as pastor) about “the land where everyone is free” yet street vendors are dragged by chains, the mighty crash the weak...She resonated with an infuriated Ibrahim Balumwa who, costumed with a bandanna across his mouth spoke as a “political degenerate” ready to “kidnap the president”; pouring out his dissatisfaction with this nation’s failed leadership.

Peter Kagayi punched the country as one that “bought her virginity from a supermarket across Temptation Street” and spoke of colonial tools that left us to compete and whether we’ll ever learn to table defeat in his piece How I grew up, that wittily and sarcastically recounts tales like a failed education system, the plight of teachers and children. Edwin Ruyonga impressed with lyrical flow in a poetic betrayal of Christ and the cross and also made chorus with his piece, Jobs.

Love that never was
But there was a luscious side to the story. Mark Gordon pinched the listeners’ hearts with a true life’s tale of his love for Angel, a girl who “friend-zoned’ him despite his undying love for her. The mellow sweetness reckoned Anena’s “The ball in my hands” which had sexual innuendos, and Rashida Namulondo’s chant of Stella Nyanzi’s “Making love to the president”, who is “ too used to only screwing our nation and its systems and public institutions”.
Pieces were crafted for culture and nature such as Balunwa’s “Is this what you want?” where he quizzes our negligence for climate change and a future where our daughters will only know of flowers like Roses and Tullips in their names and none to see.

Ernest Sesanga brought back Uganda’s rich ancestral heritage in Nalubaale is Dying which cleverly records spiritual storages in names like Kibuuka, Sekiliba, Kyattaka, Nakayima. Other poets included Fahima Kimbugwe, Derrick Rushongoza, MC Curious, Slim Mc and Haawa Kimbugwe.
These poets manifested wise imagery, tailored irony and sarcasm and have a response to everything. They will speak of what several Ugandans are afraid to, in clever ways as “My country is a badly taken selfie”.

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