Wednesday, 28 Feb 2024
Year: 2011

Photo by Anne Kari Garberg

What is Original? Do-cultures and don’t-cultures

The current generation of recording artists and performers of Ugandan music is one that has not been talked about much. This could be in fact, that there is very little in terms of music to speak of. You could summarize an entire decade of music in just a few sentences; very little music has been produced in the last 20 or so years which has gotten the entire country talking about an issue, an epidemic or even a political regime. Serubiri Moses analyses originality.

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From the Geoffrey Mukasa-exhibition at AKA Gallery, Kampala, 2011.

Geoffrey Mukasa: The enduring painter

“As an artist Geoffrey Mukasa was never afraid to take on new challenges; he taught us to be bold and courageous. He straddled the past and the present and his contribution to the young subject of contemporary art in Uganda has been immense. Mukasa stretched the borders of painting beyond the expected, and deservedly; today he is celebrated as a leading Ugandan painter of the 20th century who was key in raising the profile of art in Uganda. Mukasa’s legacy will continue to reverberate across the country and beyond for many years to come.” Dr. George Kyeyune reviews the recent Mukasa-exhibition at AKA Gallery (Tulifanya).

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Maurice Kirya at This is Uganda, 2011. Photo by Will Boase (www.willboase.com). All rights reserved.

Is this really Uganda?

The idea of a festival of the arts in the Ugandan sun was welcomed. Like others themed alike, This Is Uganda was expected to celebrate the Uganda free spirit in all cultural senses. In its second year, TIU shows it has set out to celebrate a different culture. Even when the organisers expected the event to be endorsed by a big number of revelers, at the end they were not happy with the turnout. At this rate, TIU might need to change tack in the next edition.

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Participants at the East African Art Summit 2011.

East African Art Summit 2011: The coming together of creative minds

“The time has finally arrived that Africa begin to look to Africa for answers. We are starting to think about making East Africa our market place. But we can not go far without drastically improving the quality of our products. For too long we have made inefficient production schedules and products. On the other hand, a myriad of questions are raised to which answers cannot be immediately found. Still, these questions must be asked and answered if our art is to grow into the cultural void in which we find ourselves.” Ugandan visual artist SANE reflects on the East African Art Summit.

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Front cover of the collection "World of Our Own and other stories", published by Femrite Uganda, 2011.

A Writers’ Residency bearing fruits

This writers’ residency, organised by Femrite (Uganda Women Writers Association) in partnership with The Swedish Institute, is the first of its kind in Uganda. On the whole, it has been a successful endeavour. For the year 2010 it was held in Jinja. It attracted participants from Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, and of course Uganda. The fruits from the 2010-series are documented in a publication by Femrite: ”World of Our Own”. This short story collection was launched on November 24th 2011. Lillian A. Aujo reviews.

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One of Start's founding members, Henry Mzili Mujunga, at This is Uganda-festival

Startjournal.org’s hits and misses: Celebrating the one-year anniversary of being online

Start has succeeded in establishing an arts journal writing in-depth articles about the Ugandan art scene. We have kept our frequency and given around fifty independent writers a site to express themselves thoroughly about the arts. We have kept the variety in types of articles; the reviews, the interviews, the investigation and the more promotional story. But we still have a long way to go.

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Kyeyune’s The Kampala I Will Always Come Back To: Sanitised Economic Injustices and the Risk of Propaganda

In this article Angelo Kakande shows and argues that as representations of life in Kampala, Kyeyune’s paintings are not portraits of individuals or groups. They are in the first place art. In the second, they are sanitised versions of reality intended to suit middle class and tourist aesthetic tastes. In the third place, they carry the risks of pandering to state propaganda.

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Ssekibala Andrew, Fish as source of inspiration for the design of vases, 2011.

Great Achievements by Makerere Ceramists

Ceramics is a cultural tradition with millennia of history, and the ceramics show that opened on November 4th at the Makerere University Art gallery was about breaking old barriers and pushing back new ones. Combined with a flair for suspension, it was bolder and even more exciting than the last ceramics exhibition at the same venue.

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Design by Xenson (c) 2011.

Xenson’s Futuristic Past enthralls

With the likes of Xenson and his contemporaries like Stella Atal and Latif, the Uganda fashion flag is flying high and whoever thought the fashion boom in Uganda could end pretty soon, is in for a shocker. “Fashion is a journey. I wanted to create something and leave the interpretation to the people. I wanted my clothes to speak for themselves and I believe they did,” explained an exhausted Xenson after the show.

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Kiwewa’yimba: Ugandan art is booming! But where is the market?

“To stand out and become significantly successful, we need to step out of our comfort zones and question how much effort we are really making to help the creative arts industry boom. We all share the goal of developing the industry into one that truly represents Ugandan talent and makes everyone proud.” Startjournal.org has invited Kiwewa Faisal of Bayimba Cultural Foundation to write his opinions about Ugandan arts and culture.

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Dancer and performer Sam Ibanda.

Sam Ibanda: Spreading the passion for Ugandan contemporary dance

Uganda has more than 50 tribes. Each of these has a dance that defines them. It is from this rich pool that dancers like Sam Ibanda can create great dances to weave into contemporary routines. Other dancers have introduced traditional dance into their patterns to great effect. Ibanda has learnt well that when he travels out to present to an international audience, he will have to be original. Contemporary dance from Uganda must be truly an identity.

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Women’s Voices: A discussion on English literature in Uganda

“When women’s writing talks about sexuality, its accomplishment is twofold: it works at breaking down the silence around sexual taboos, as well as revealing ways in which women both lack and execute power within sexual and gendered experiences.” Canadian Jessica Veaudry has reviewed the Ugandan novels “The Official Wife”, “Cassandra”, and “Memoirs of a Mother”.

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Dancer Ken Sewanyana from the Ugandan group.

Umoja sets the bar for performance high

The first International Umoja Cultural Flying Carpet Show in Uganda was a phenomenal display of talents. New music, new choreography, new acrobats and circus, all pulled off with such admirable coordination and symbiosis that the audience didn’t have reason to yawn. The show was a success because Umoja’s overriding idea of creating together was fulfilled.

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Patronage, finesse and passion

Could the above be the ingredients that can be injected into Kampala’s visual arts scene to spice it up? It cannot be denied that the art industry has grown over the past ten years, but where should it go from here? Startjournal.org caught up with a few renowned artists to discover what they believed were the elements necessary for Kampala’s visual arts scene to be the best it can be.

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Vision for Africa Pottery Workshop: A case study for traditional African design

Carola Tengler is a ceramicist who spent her career making and teaching pottery in Austria, her home country. In 2003, she joined the Vision for Africa project in Mukono district, Uganda. Carola’s vision is to bring value and expertise to the traditional African forms and patterns as manifested in the field of pottery. She argues that there is a traditional African form and design that is unique to Africa, and therefore must be uplifted and used to create unique works and not works that are trying to copy other cultures’ ideals.

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B-boy .. and B-boy Abdul at the Raw Expression-event at Open House, September 30th 2011.

Where’s the real voice of Ugandan hip-hop?

Hooded teenagers in trainer sneakers stormed the “Raw Expression Party” organised by the Breakdance Project Uganda. Despite the success of the Raw Experience Party, the Breakdance Project Uganda should try to localize its content. The teenagers do not necessarily have to dress hip, talk slang and rhyme like the hip-hop celebrities in the U.S to garner attention and respect from other youth.

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The Butterfly Effect: An interview with Caine Prize-nominee Beatrice Lamwaka

The story Butterfly Effect was written by Beatrice Lamwaka, and was short-listed for the 2011 Caine Prize for African writing, a prize that many writers on the continent aspire to win. The nominaton has strengthened Beatrice’s belief in herself as a writer. However, when she writes, she says it is important she does it without the conscious nagging of being a short-listed winner of this prestigious prize.

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The Ennanga, a traditional arched harp played by the Ganda people.

Tracing the Life of a Song: Poetic Wisdom in Gganga Alula

Discovering accurate transcriptions of the Ganda standard tune, Gganga Alula, in the works of ethnomusicologist Peter Cooke spoke directly about the life of a song. If the true essence of our traditional culture is preserved, then we’re going to find better solutions to our problems, perhaps utilizing this very poetic wisdom. Serubiri Moses attempts to shed more light on preservation of the essential African arts.

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