What you need to know:
Songs have been part of Uganda, even before it became independent, but while some have graced the airwaves and ‘died’ shortly after their release, others have just been unforgettable. Abdu Kiyaga brings 50 most memorable and timeless songs [in no particular order].
[Philly Bongole Lutaaya]
Christmas Day is one of the most celebrated days in the country. Since the late 1980’s when this song was first played, it remains the theme song for festivities through December 31.
[Philly Bongole Lutaaya]
He was the first person to publicly declare his HIV status. During the production of this song in 1986, he said: “I wanted to declare my feelings and the feelings of other patients.” The song called for non-discrimination of people living with HIV/Aids.
Before his death in 2004, Wamala had been dubbed as “ever green” a title that was given to him as an artiste whose music and style never faded. In this song, he described the social life and the favorite hang outs back then.
At every end of the month, it was time for Local Government officials to crack down on all Graduated Tax defaulters. It is at this point that the veteran musician composed this song in the 1960s. Until the tax was abolished, this song was usually played to remind people to clear dues.
On their maiden album “Volume 8” this song is about HIV spead in the late 1980's. A contrinution to the anti-HIV fight.
Nyongera ku laavu
[By Peterson Tusubira Mutebi]
The veteran musician in this song was asking for more love from his wife.
Recorded in the 1970s, the late Wamala in this called calls for trust and patience from his wife he had left in Uganda as he had travelled to Europe.
When it first played on the then Radio Uganda, it got him recognition, especially among Luganda speaking audiences. In this song, he sends a message that his love should be brought because life was no longer the same while she was away.
This song congratulates all the people that stayed alive in the past year as well as thanking different bodies for the services they provided to citizens.
Kimuli kya Rose
As one of the pioneer members of Eagles Production band, Maiso released this song in praise of a lady whose beauty he equated to that of red-rose flowers.
Known for his vocals, Katumba who was also the lead music composer for the Ebonies drama group had this one with a message to appreciate what we have before we lose it.
Released in 1994, Mp’eddembe (give me freedom) album’s lead song was against jealousy and insecurity in relationships.
This was debut song for the Three Beautiful Ladies of Uganda (Blu*3) in 2003. The girls who included Cinderella Sanyu, Jackie Chandiru and Lillian Mbabazi graduated from Coca-Cola stars competition.
Olupapula si mupiira
[Frida Ssonko and Charles Ssonko]
This classic remains a people’s favorite because of the courtship theme it has as Frida Sonko recalls when her partner proposed to her.
This was the hit single that put Juliana’s music career on the path to stardom. Juliana (pictured below) has since recorded several top hit songs.
Mundeke mbeere n’ono
With Joanita Kawalya as lead singer, this track dominated the air waves in the late 90’s. Ms Kawalya talked about the need to be around the love of her life.
The motor-bike theme was pivotal in promoting the mode of transport which began from Malaba border town. It was one of the last hits of Elly Wamala.
In this song, Mr Wamala (pictured above) talks about a lady, Emilina, who lives in Nsambya and with whom he’s deeply in love with.
[Lord Fred Ssebatta]
This was a hit song done in collaboration with Sarah Nabiryo. The song draws a debate on balancing work and family
[Paul Job Kafeero]
Known as “Prince” of Kadongo kamu (single instrument) music, Kafeero in this song showed his frustration to the God of death “Walumbe”, saying that he does not discriminate. He takes the young, old, sick, healthy, clean and dirty.
[Peterson Tusubira Mutebi]
In this song, Mutebi talks about a beautiful lady with a nice body.
This was the first and last song that Bebe Cool (pictured below) and Bobi Wine did together as members of the Fire Base crew. However, the two fell out shortly and to date they are not friends.
The year was 2000 when the lady from the East had just joined Afrigo Band. Due to the flavor of the music and typically a new dialect in music and to that, it picked up the best song of the year.
Chameleon remained unrated on the Ugandan scene until this hit in 2001. This was on his return from Nairobi where he had collaborated with Kenyan artiste Redsan on his Bageya hit.
[Milly Makumbi & Walukagga]
This 14-minute song talks about a man (Walukegga) who ignored his wife (Milly) because he was always occupied with work. Instead, a male house help (Kayanda) takes over the family responsibility and fathers one of the children in the family.
The song is dubbed the epitome of a metaphor master class. In this song Basudde compared the earth to a travelling bus, the people as passengers and God the driver. He also explained the problems faced while we live.
This was also another hit song for many a generations until music went modern.
[Navio, Peter Miles and 2Face Idibia]
On his visit to Uganda, the sensational Nigerian artiste 2Face found some time to record a remix to the song Rakas originally done by Navio and Peter Miles.
[Paul Job Kafeero]
A hit from Kafeero this time round with lyrics that encourage people to have discipline and accord respect to all kinds of people.
This song condemned gender-based domestic violence in families. It won the artiste of the year award at the Pearl of Africa Music Awards in 2005.
[By Radio, Weasel ft Omulangira Ssuuna]
This was the last song that Radio and Weasel did before they the group- Leone Island. Today they have produced different back-to-back songs making them the most successful duo.
In this epic track on Afrigo Band’s (pictured above) 90s album was about the pressures in marriage, Joanita Kawalya praises her husband- Jimmy.
Daniel Kazibwe alias Ragga Dee is known in the entertainment industry as one of the people who have changed with music. This song off his 2004 album made it a hit around the country and dominated countdown charts.
In 1993, Ragga Dee released his groups’ [Da Hommies] maiden hit talking about a promiscuous girl who was beaten by one of the men she was cheating with.
Mu Ndeeba oyitangayo
This is still a hit song despite even after these many years. Ssensuwa urges his ex-girlfriend to pass by his place (Ndeeba) and say hello.
The year was 2004 when this song hit the airwaves and dominated charts on Channel 5 (East African Television).
Yet another hit from the single instrument music maestro, but this time round he comes with a wife who poisons her husband to death to walk away with a new man.
Paul Kafeero (pictured above) was well known for his love for alcohol. However, he explained why he had quit drinking through this song. It became a popular hit.
This is probably the first and last we heard of Lady Mariam’s tracks. The Song that took Uganda’s airwaves by storm remains popular though.
This track was a 2006 release by Sematimba who made different stage performances for his Kampala fans until he was deported from Europe.
[Mega Dee Ft Menton Crono]
As one of the top songs of the duo, it talks about one of the boys meeting the love of his life while he was sent to the market by his parent.
On a normal Sunday, many a people tune into Capital FM’s morning show and this gospel song will be played. The US- based group’s song remains a hit.
Emitima egilwadde okwagala
It was inspired by Whitney Houston’s “Where do broken hearts go?” It has been redone by various artistes such Sarah Nanteza and The Ebonies as a tribute to Katumba.
Agawalaggana mu nkola
The song was released only months after National Resistance Army took up arms against Dr Milton Obote’s government. This called for the banning of the song until Obote’s government was toppled.
Formerly of I-JAY with Juliana Kanyomozi, Iryn had barely any recognition in a solo music career until this hit. She has since then had an famed career.
Charity Kobutungi was spotted by Charles Lwanga alias Rasta Charz while performing in Train the Youth Effort band. The song, released in 2003, became a hit on many radio stations.
Lowooza ku nze
The classical ever green “Elishama” will forever be remembered for the art he contained in his lyrics and this was not any different
[Uganda All Stars]
In 1999, the fuss was all around ushering in the Y2K generation. In the music industry, Steve Jean, Juliana Kanyomozi, Paul Kafeero, Kid Fox, Jimmy Katumba, Emperor Orlando, Menton Krono, Gentle P, Mulindwa Muwonge, teamed up to pull this one off.
Taata wa Baana
[Bobi Wine Ft Juliana Kanyomozi]
The song was accompanied by rumours that Juliana and Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine were in a relationship since she had just separated with longtime boyfriend Amon. The song called for cooperation in families.
[East African Bashment Crew]
Bebe Cool, Nazizi and Wyre [formerly of Necessary Noize] paired to form the East African Bashment Crew in 2006. The maiden song by the group still rings in people’s minds.
Did we leave out any song that should have been on this list? Let us know by writing to [email protected]
I was there on October 9 1962
Leaving wife for fete. My wife went into labour on October, 9, 1962. We were expecting our first son but that never deterred me from attending the celebrations of Uganda’s independence.Although my wife needed urgent attention, the anxiety, never let me stay, instead, I left her in the hands of a local birth attendant.
Announcements. On the eve of Independence, sub-county and county chiefs traversed villages informing people about the event and announcements were also being made on Radio Uganda.
Chiefs and a few selected locals used cow horns at around mid night to wake up people who were still in the villages to move to Soroti town as the ecstasy to attend the celebrations outwitted the urge for any other work.
Work halted. Schools and offices were closed and all roads led to Soroti Boma ground where celebrations for Teso local government were held.
Wearing the best. All that one could see were thousands of people heading to Soroti Town on the eve of Independence. Women wore their best attires while men made a haircut fashion call Enyasa.
Drinks and eats. Drinking sprees kicked off as early as 5am. Several animals and birds were slaughtered, rituals were performed to bid farewell to British rule.
Dancing. Days before the big day, each village had held celebrations with young girls and boys engaged in a dance called Ebimone-- a night dance meant for courtship. Though it was meant to be closely monitored by elderly women and men this time, round it wasn’t because everyone was feasting.
Relief. As soon as the Union jack was lowered, people bust into slogans of “no more Shs6 for taxes to the Whiteman.