Ugandan choir promoting African culture, heritage through music

The choir was founded with a belief that music is the greatest tool to bring diverse communities together, and is therefore dedicated to connecting diverse cultures through choral music with the goal of fostering global understanding, goodwill and peace building. PHOTO/ COURTESY 

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  • According to Francisca Nakachwa, a veteran singer with the choir, she is happy to be part of the growth journey of the entity from a simple choir which started with ordinary music lovers to a professional choir which now has several professional choristers. 

“As a person who has watched Pan African Choir Uganda (PACU) perform, I must say the skills they exhibit on stage and the fact that the Choristers demonstrate a sense of naturalness in their performance makes music lovers yearn for more every time the choir appears on stage,” testifies Dorothy Nalubega.
As a member of the choir whose musicality is anchored on African culture and heritage, Nalubega adds that her experience in being a member of this choir has been and still is the positivity towards and appreciation of African Choral music.
Nalubega, an administrator/chairperson emeritus PACU observes, “I have enjoyed singing the songs from all over Africa. I have met and connected with other African Choristers and composers since the choir is a member of a wider association of African Union Choirs, and the fact that we have travelled and performed at international music festivals like Africa Sings France, Africa Sings Burundi and Angoli Segreti in Italy.”
The choir was founded with a belief that music is the greatest tool to bring diverse communities together, and is therefore dedicated to connecting diverse cultures through choral music with the goal of fostering global understanding, goodwill and peace building.
According to Francisca Nakachwa, a veteran singer with the choir, she is happy to be part of the growth journey of the entity from a simple choir which started with ordinary music lovers to a professional choir which now has several professional choristers. 
“We have also built our dance motifs and instrumental capacity from simple dances to partnerships with professional dancers and instrumentalists,” she adds.
The choir comprises of members, namely Natume Witness Teddy, Kirabo Agnes, Nakabanda Winnie, Nakivumbi Mary, Nabisaso Joan, Nalule Winnie,Kalungi Yudayah, Nalubowa Grace Shavie, Nabbanja Renah Mutesti, Concy Lawino, Nakabiito Maria, Nakachwa Francisca, Nsambu Rose Mary, Ikilai Judith, Kyokunda Jennifer Nanyonjo. Dorothy Nalubega, Nassaazi Bona Paula, Alioru Doreen Hope, Kebirungi Mary Frankline, Ssenyonga Charles Njuba, Kusiima Julius, Anthony Buyambi, Senyonga Benard, Mulindwa George William, Zizinga Phillip, Mensah Gerald Kisa, Molla Hussayn, Omenya Anthony, Isaac Tamukedde, Bernard Kiweewa, Jonathan Ssengooba, Samuel Matovu. Ayesiga Isaac, Segembe Tonny, Simon Peter Mbulamukago and Stephen Oloka who is the current director.

Bernard Kiweewa notes that PACU’s members deliver a repertoire of music pieces from across Sub-Saharan Africa put together with an aim of showing Africa's unique rhythms, melodies, genres and culture portrayed in music to the rest of the world. 
He adds, “The Choir's stage delivery is orchestrated with a depiction of authentic African culture and discussion and percussion of harmonized African melodies and instruments that blend with the western music instruments. This enables the international community to internalize the mood, taste and tone embedded in both the thrilling and melancholic African music pieces.”

Many times, the directors on stage engage the audience to depict the enjoyment experienced as that of the African family fireplace. There is an audience eager to see the choir perform on a forthcoming USA TOUR starting February 2023 to celebrate the Black History month with visits of up to five states during which PACU will engage and immerse the host communities with a choral afro buffet.

The choir is also scheduled to participate at the Kathaumixw in Canada in July 2023. Nakachwa cannot wait to be part of the musical delivery, adding that patrons are in for a musical treat that represents and presents songs from all over Africa, and considering that every country in Africa has varied though sometimes related music, PACU’s repertoire has dialects that mean different things in different countries. 

“For instance, one of our songs has the lyrics, "bantama" which in the Luganda language is translated "i hate them" yet the composer was talking about a place in West Africa called Bantama in Kumasi. So the lyrics make the songs intriguing, comical, entertaining or therapeutic which is pretty much what most African music is meant to do, be it lullabies or play songs or war songs. PACU therefore is a pathway to the recall of what Africa stands for through the messages that its music communicates,” the choir member elaborates.

As a member of the choir, Nalubega hopes to achieve her dream of making people love their own music by performing excellently. 
The chairperson emeritus also adds, “Our repertoire is the most unique and richest a music lover could ever think of. We have got songs from at least every region in Uganda and in addition every region in Africa has a place or two in our wealthy repertoire. No one spices African music the same way PACU does.”
 
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