Sammy Kasule: A music legend goes to rest

Sunday May 02 2021
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In studio: Sammy Kasule with Philly Bongoley Lutaaya in a studio. The two are now no more. PHOTO/FILE

By Gabriel Buule

At the mention of the name Sammy Kasule, anyone in the music industry would simply think about the six-stringed music instrument (the bass) an instrument he had mastered thought his entire music career. Kasule was best known for his prowess as a bass guitar player, and as the musician who sang Ekitoobero, a household anthem of the 1980s.

Although not a common face in the mainstream, Kasule’s music resonated with many on the local scene, with songs such as Ekitobero and Oze Munange.

His friend Nuwa Wamala Nyanzi, a renowned batik artist, reveals that Kasule rose to music in the late 1960s in Vipers Band led by the late Raphael Kawumba.

Unique
Muserebende Ssali, a musician,  notes that in his early days, Kasule performed alongside the late Swisseman Ngoy,  a vocalist and dancer. He says this made Kasule a special character  who was among the few nonCongolese to be included in a first class Congolese band at the time.

Nyanzi adds that Kasule was also favoured to have got a chance to go international as early as  the1980s performing alongside Kenya’s Vundumuna Band and other Congolese music establishments that were popular at the time.

Muserebende says for about 30 years, Kasule lived in Sweden where he has been leading Makonde Band together with Swedish musicians and another Ugandan, Gerald Naddibanga.

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It was in 1969 that Kasule took to stage, when he joined Kawumba Band then a regular band in Mengo’s New Life Bar.  Kasule left the band during Amin’s regime  in 1970.

“He told us that he left to seek refuge in Kenya where he joined several Congolese bands that included the Orchestra Les Kinois and Liwanza,” says Muserebende.

In 1977 Kasule recorded his first single, Maria Wandaka followed by Shauri Yako (English version) then Ekitoobero that became a household song in Uganda.

Together with guitarist Frantal Tabu and keyboardist Botango Bedjil, Kasule founded the famous Vundumuna Band that later evolved into Makonde band where he was joined by Philly Bongoley Lutaaya in 1979.  

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In memoriam: On the evening of April 27, musician and bassist Sammy Kasule Kibirige was pronounced dead in Amsterdam. PHOTO/FILE

It is said that when Lutaaya moved to Sweden in 1983 he invited Kasule and the two teamed up with Ugandan musicians Frank Mbalire, Hope Mukasa, Joseph Nsubuga, Richard Mudungu, Fred Ssemwogerere and Shem Makanga to form Savanna.

The music inspiration
His inspiration came from listening to Congolese music played on radio, and Ugandan musicians Christopher Ssebaduka and Rosia Nyogo from whom he learnt the Ekitoobero song.

The self-nurtured musician has been known for blending his voice with instruments to create music with a touch of Ugandan folk with rhythms based on Soukous.

Kasule worked with Philly Bongoley Lutaaya  to release the famous album titled Born in Africa and he then moved to Japan in 1989 where he worked with  African Jambo Jambo Band alongside Uganda’s  Meddie Matovu. 

In 1991, he moved back to Sweden and re-formed Makonde Band, and they  recorded songs such as Njabala, Seyeeya and Ziwuuna.

Back home
Kasule returned to Uganda in 2014 where he has been occasionally performing with Afrigo Band and Ziwuuna, a band he co-founded with his friend veteran musician Frank Mbalire.

Kasule who has been working on his new Album Bantumye  at Jude Mugerwa’s studio at National Theatre has recorded songs including; Mvua ya Amani, Ziwuuna, Sina, Makondere, Makosa, Oze, Njabala and Twejukanye.
Health
In the 1990s,  Kasule was diagnosed with a heart disease, requiring him to have a pacemaker, which he received in 2015. 

In 2020, he had to change it but could not go back to Sweden due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown. In December 2020, he developed an enlarged prostate and was given a catheter, which impaired his ability to walk, so he developed sores on his legs that were to be dressed daily for a month.  

On March 29, he developed a breathing problem for which he was admitted to Rubaga Hospital for a week. On April 22, he was cleared to travel to Sweden accompanied by a nurse for further review.  

On arrival at Amsterdam, his condition worsened and he was admitted to intensive care at a hospital. On April 27, Sammy passed away at 8.30pm, Ugandan time.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com 

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