Saturday, 13 Jul 2024
Year: 2013

Producing Culture on Twitter: Is it Ugandan?

From the exposure many Ugandan musicians such as Navio, The Mith, Keko, Lillian Mbabazi and Maurice Kirya are receiving on Twitter, it would not be inappropriate to say that popular Ugandan music is experiencing a boom in Africa. Unfortunately, this has exposed their largely Western aspirations, creating the daunting questions such as: Who is the audience on Twitter? Which culture does one produce for? And, is it possible to produce a cultural following on Twitter?

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Collin Sekajugo's Secolliville Project in Kampala 2013.

Secolliville: An imaginary city in the public space

Secolliville is an imaginary city created by artist Collin Sekajugo and is much inspired by the philosophy of Albert Einstein—“Imagination is better than knowledge”. Backed with the motto “Where things are as they could be” the artist is the performer in this city—the public space—where he’s conveying a particular message depending on the theme he has chosen for the morning. His performances are interactive, intelligent and creative.

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Saint Nelly Sade. Photo by courtesy of the artist.

St. Nelly-sade: Luga-flo lyricist, emcee, poet and thinker

“When I listen to the latest album of St. Nelly-sade, I can’t stop but muse that, by and by, future hip-hop critiques, collectors, practitioners, etc will reflect upon his music as a one of a kind archetype, and use it to school and inspire the coming hip-hop generations in Uganda.” Lutakome ‘Felix’ Fidelis has met the Ugandan underground rapper.

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Celebrating 50 years of Independence at International Women's Day Uganda 2013. Photo by Petra Behnsen.

The International Women’s day Festival

On March 8th, one couldn’t help but wonder how art would be used to celebrate such an interesting phenomenon of the human race. Would it call for a sculpture of the woman in all her glory, a painting of her most-prized assets? Or how she embraces art in her day-to-day life to make it comfortable for herself and her loved ones? Certainly for the international celebrations of the Women’s day at the Sheraton, the answer lay in this last one. The theme of the festival was how independent is the Ugandan Woman? A retrospect of the past 50 years, present and future perspectives.

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Angella Emurwon and David Cecil at WAZO Talking Arts, Kampala Feb 5 2013.

Censorship and the Arts in Uganda

“As the eighth edition of the Wazo Talking Arts proved, while the expectation is of artists to be at the forefront of debate and to challenge the status quo, artists are also a product of their culture, religion, and politics; their work cannot be separated from their experience. In other words artists are human beings, artists can be frightened, and artists can be ideologically conservative or liberal. If there is one attribute that artists need to create meaningful, challenging, even great work in the face of possible censorship, then that attribute is courage.” Farida Nabalozi reflects on Censorship and the Arts in Uganda.

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Ugandan visual artist Edison Mugalu, at Umoja Art Gallery, Kampala, February 2013. Photo by Thomas Bjørnskau.

Talking happiness in love with Edison Mugalu

“This exhibition at Umoja Art Gallery in Kamwokya was Mugalu’s clear and heartfelt contribution to a day some people love to love and others love to hate: Valentine’s Day. The reason why some people love to hate the day is not hard to fathom. It’s the high expectations and demands that lovers place on each other which are rarely meant. … This is why Mugalu’s message was all the more relevant.” Elizabeth Namakula reviews.

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From the Alfajiri Productions premiere of "Silent Voices" at National Theatre in Kampala 2012.

The harsh rebirth of professional theatre in Uganda

“The 1970s were for Uganda the years when the lights started to go out. In the ranks of Ugandans who had fled the country, and who never made it out of the decade, and a big rank it was, dramatists were among the number. Soldiers appeared at the National Theatre in 1977 and dragged then director of the National Theatre, Byron Kawadwa from rehearsals. A military tribunal had in secret passed a death sentence on him and five of his colleagues.” AK Kaiza reflects on the recent history of theatres in Uganda.

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Brian Magoba. Photo by courtesy of Brian Magoba's Facebook-page.

The influence of ancient drum practices on contemporary music

African societies, since time immemorial, have always been moved by the sound of the drum. Communication and celebration with percussions were norms within our numerous cultural contexts. Drums in African traditional societies were sources of identity that distinguished various social groupings. Samuel Lutaaya has interviewed Brian Magoba to learn how drums have been used in contemporary pop music compared to traditional music.

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Anna Kucma visiting the Kenyan visual artist Peterson Kamwahti at his studio in Nairobi.

The Collection Bug

As the global economy goes through turbulent times, it is becoming clear that art is regarded as one of the few investments which people regard as a safe bet. But, there’s more to art than money, despite the relationship the two are often seen as having. Local art collections and sales are on the rise, and with an increasing population of young, upwardly-mobile people looking to culture as a hobby, Anna Kućma sets out to discover the motivations driving several local collectors.

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Ugandan visual artist Henry Mzili Mujunga

Free Expression by Mzili: For the love of a nation

“Politicians in the developed world understand the importance of culture in defining a people. So they support the museums, galleries, theatres and the other public cultural institutions. In Uganda, it is the opposite. The musicians, artists, playwrights and comedians are on their own. They work tirelessly propagating what is unique and definitive about their country.” Henry Mzili Mujunga speaks out.

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Ugandan artist Godfrey Banadda in his office/studio at Makerere University, 2013. (Photo by Thomas Bjørnskau, startjournal.org)

Banadda’s Marriage of Philosophy and Aesthetics

He takes no less than four months to conceive and develop an idea in his head, a process he refers to as mental sketching. It takes him a minimum of another four weeks to actualize the idea on canvas to his satisfaction. Meet Godfrey Banadda, a second-generation modern artist that has led a distinguished career in painting, exploring a diversity of themes that essentially question the mysteries of nature and culture.

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On Cultural Destiny: The Klaus Wachsmann Music Archive

(As a society), we are responsible for documenting, studying and understanding the musical heritage that is available. Many contemporary musicians are looking for avenues to make their work more authentic. … The Klaus Wachsmann Music Archive would be the perfect place to establish more accurate study by those same musicians who are searching for ‘authenticity’ to research on various instrument, and to hear recordings of the canons of master players in Uganda’s cultural legacy.

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Qwela Band, Uganda. Band photo 2012.

Qwela’s Afrotopia album

“What I like about Afrotopia is the assertively used indigenous instruments like the akogo, the nanga and the tube fiddle. When I compare Afrotopia, though, to another Ugandan album; Sipping From the River Nile by Tshila from 2008; it falls short. In this album by Tshila, being very similar in style to Afrotopia, the wealth of syncopation, rhythm and sound is consistent within every individual song. This quality is especially lacking in Afrotopia.” Pamela Acaye reviews.

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Artwork by Ronex. Exhibited at Fasfas Art Cafe, Kampala, January 2013. Image modified by Thomas Bjørnskau, startjournal.org.

The many faces of ART

There are many new ways for Ugandans to be exposed to the arts. Startjournal wanted to find out if all the art that is permeating the air had actually seeped through the skins of the people. We posed the following question to working class Ugandans: Please tell us — what is ART to you?

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Lillian and Pragmo at Serena Kampala, 18.12.12.

Pragmo and Lillian Mbabazi’s danger concert

“Serena swimming pool area was the venue for this unlikely musical pairing, Pragmo and Lillian Mbabazi, even though as it turned out, they were not so different after all. The deemed lights, sound of the waterfall and even that of the frogs formed the perfect background for a quiet night out and a premonition of the style of music to expect: Jazz and soul.” Elizabeth Namakula reviews.

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Kapchorwa District

Using art to help communities: The Benet Story

What do you do as a minority community in a greater Uganda when you find yourself landless and your heritage about to be extinguished? The Benet people, high up on mount Elgon in the district of Kapchorwa, have chosen to tackle their fight for recognition and preservation of culture through art, being helped by two Dutch artists, Arno Peeters and Iris Honderdos. The exhibition ROOTED opens at Makerere Art Gallery Jan 18 2013.

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