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‘Brown envelope’ eroding our dignity– sings AraaliPublish Date: Jan 03, 2014
‘Brown envelope’ eroding our dignity– sings Araali
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Araali with the awards he won in 2011 as the best cultural artiste of the year

Vision Group, in association with Twaweza Initiative and Buzz Events, is seeking to recognise artistes whose compositions advance society. Today, Gloria Nakajubi brings you Araali Kigambo, a musician who has picked up interest in singing about corruption– a vice eroding the country

When he was nominated, I didn’t have any idea who Moses Araali Kigambo was; I had never heard about his name let alone his music. So I decided to Google to find out who this guy was. Well the leads I found were sad stories published around 2010 of a young man in his 30s who was seeking financial help for an operation in India after being diagnosed with paraplegia, a condition that had affected his spinal cord and he was now confi ned to a wheelchair.

I got a little sceptical and wondered how I was going to approach him, whether he was still in hospital or had given up on singing, but all the same I went on to engage him.

As it turned out, he had the operation and continues to sing though now he does it in the wheelchair as he has not fully recovered. Kigambo was nominated for his song Ebahasa (envelope) that was released in 2009. As he explains the song highlights the dangers of taking and receiving bribes that always come sealed in envelopes and people have come to associate this with brown envelopes. He says the moment you take a bribe, you have given away your rights and you are now at the mercy of the one who has bribed you. In one of the stanzas he talks of how politicians use simple gifts like a kilo of sugar, salt, a glass of ‘waragi’ or just sh500 to buy their way to leadership and after getting there, they will work to get back whatever they spent during the campaigns and not to serve the people.

“What do you expect if someone bought your vote, it actually means they are no longer entitled to you and there is no way you will ask for accountability,” he explains. Kigambo further explains that this song was intended to sensitise the community on the value of their vote so that they can learn to choose leaders based on capability to deliver and not because they gave them something during the campaigns

 “I am very glad that the Batooro can no longer be taken up by cheap items during elections and maybe that is why Fort Portal, for example, is one of the fastest growing towns in the country because we vote for capable leaders,” he says. Kigambo’s music is done in the traditional western Uganda style with the beats of the cultural instruments playing in the background.

Who is Araali Kigambo

Moses Kigambo Araali, a father of four was born 36 years ago to the late Gideon Rwakijuma and the late Joan Matama in Nyakabara, Kyenjojo district. Kigambo didn’t go far with education, having dropped out in primary school and joined his father in the bicycle repairing business in 1999. After saving some money,he paid to be taught motor vehicle repairing at a nearby garage. He was a mechanic for about four years and later got fully involved with the Engabu Za Toro a non governmental organisation that was running a youth entrepreneurship project, where his music talent was groomed and developed.

Kigambo says in 2005 he was recruited as a staff member at the NGO and he quit the mechanic business.

His other songs and inspiration

Eitaka Kintu Kikuru (land is a great asset), which he says was written after he realised that many of his peers were selling off their land in rural areas to go to urban centres.

Kigambo says this song was intended to create awareness among the young people especially not to trade their family’s land for perishable assets, but rather use the land to engage in constructive projects. The other song Ekirale, which he produced in 2007 was an award winner. He was named the 2011 PAM awards Best Cultural Artiste of the Year.

He says in this song he was trying to remind people of the lost glory of their Kingdom and calling upon them to work towards reviving that legacy. “We were being looked up to by other regions in such aspects as education, cultural heritage among others, but all this has perished,” he says.

Culika Buculika’ is the other song that highlights the different forms in which corruption is manifesting itself such as drugs missing in hospitals, civil servants leaving their jackets on office chairs to disguise their absence, roads breaking down after a few months, among others. He says he was calling upon the community to rise up and fi ght against these ills that eventually put them at a disadvantage with only a few benefi tting.

What others say about Kigambo’s songs

Eng. Dr. Vincent Atenyi Kasangaki, a consulting engineer, IMK Engineering Company Ltd says through his music, Kigambo has promoted the culture of the Kingdom of Toro because the beats in the songs are those of traditional music. “I fi nd his song Ebahasa quite inspiring ,especially in this time and age when the evil of corruption is at its peak because it highlights the dangers of giving and taking a bribe.

Mary Karugaba, a journalist, says she invited Kigambo to sing during her introduction ceremony and was amazed at how inspiring his music is. “All his songs are inspirational and the fact that the Government is increasingly coming up with new ways of fi ghting corruption, Kigambo’s song Ebahasa comes in handy because it clearly tackles this evil,” she says.

Anthony Magara also says that Kigambo’s song Ebahasa has helped him to value his rights as a citizen and demand what is rightfully his. “I determine who I vote without any one infl uencing me and even if you gave me money, if I don’t like you then I won’t vote for you,” Magara says.

Patrick Kagenda, a pastor in Fort Portal, says Ebahasa is a very good song that has empowered the community to demand accountability from their leaders and empowered them to know their rights as citizens. Patrick Bamanyisa, a resident of Fort Portal, says though people tend to enjoy strange music that glorifies evil, Kigambo’s songs have had a good following and many have been inspired to change their actions for the better.

Power of music

Kigambo says because his songs are done in his native language, Rutoro, the community easily understands the message and many have been able to change their perception to life. “

Just a phrase in the song can become a part of communication in society and when someone says it, everyone understands what they mean and this in a way keeps people on track,” he says.


Every artiste who has been profi led so far highlights the failure of the copyright law as their major setback and Kigambo is not any different. He also notes that initially he had to pay up to be allowed to perform at ceremonies or he would not be allowed to


Engineer Vincent Kasangaki

Through his song you get to understand that to get something you have to offer something, but we can’t continue like this. So it’s a reminder to fight the evil of

Kenneth Mukama

Ebahasa always reminds me of my responsibility in the fight against corruption, for example, if I don’t give or take a bribe I will have done my part

To Nominate

Write to features@newvision.co.ug You can also nominate via SMS type MUSIC (leave space) name of artiste (space) song and send to 8338. Alternatively, write to the Features Editor, P.O. Box 9815, Kampala or drop your nominations at any of the Vision Group bureau offices countrywide. Nominations close on January 15, 2014

To qualify for nomination, the musician should meet the following requirements;
❑ Be Ugandan
❑ The composition must be original and not pirated
❑ Have innovatively used their musical composition to convey deliberate messages advocating for positive change
❑ Have used their music to mobilise the masses to demand for accountability or for a community cause.
❑ Used their music to highlight societal ills like corruption, poor governance, poor service delivery, oppression and human rights abuses

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

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