Vision Group, in association with Twaweza Initiative and Buzz Events, is seeking to recognise artistes whose compositions advance society. Today, Caroline Ariba profiles Mark Paul Ikwap, who is popular for ‘Aingina’ song.
To tell of the hypocrisy many of our politicians exude, would be to tell a story known to all. It is no wonder; everyone somewhere has a question to ask the local leaders. For singer Mark Paul Ikwap better known as Mark P, there was no tougher way than in song.
Aingina a song sung in both Ateso and English is what the youthful Mark P created to ask the Members of Parliament where they have gone. Calling the legislators to task, the song demands to know where all the promises that were made during campaigns have been gone. “You promised me roads… You promised me water,” are some of the lines in the song.
The singer demands to know why such politicians have the audacity to show face again begging for his vote yet none of what was previously promised had delivered. “Aingina lem ijai ijo!” (Where have you been all this while), he demands to know in Ateso from those politicians that are said to emerge from nowhere with a batch of empty promises. “Lolo ana acaki eong a cho-ot ...” is a line in the song where Mark P promises that this time he will vote with caution.
Therein, he calls on voters to be careful not to fall prey to the sugar-coated words in every campaign speech. A string of concern pulling through his every word, the singer tells of how he created Aigina. “I thought of this song while driving on a road in a bad state.
The road was so bad and the village looked deserted. I kept wondering whether those people had any leaders,” he narrates of the origin of Aigina.
Who is Mark P?
In 2003, the region awoke to an urban song by Mark P with lyrics in the local dialect and there was no going back.
The lad, who hails from the family of re-known agriculturalist Charles and Jennifer Aben had opened the door to a contemporary Teso music. “His music came at a time when radio stations in Teso were taking to the airwaves yet they almost had no playlist the urban youth could relate to,” says Simon Illakut, a Mark P fan.
Indeed, in his music, Mark P seemed to say that it was okay to embrace your mother tongue and speak English at the same time. And as such, many also believe that he was the musical voice that called to attention sa new generation of youth with a foot on their roots. After winning the Eastern Artiste of the year in the Pearl of Africa Music awards, it is also said that he set a benchmark for which many talented voices sprung up.
Mark P sat his Primary Leaving Examinations at Madera Boys School in Soroti. He then joined Masaba Boys School in Mable for his O’ level. After, he went on to join Tororo Progressive School for his A’ level. Upon completion of secondary education, Mark P took time off to do music with a promise to return to school, which he honoured.
He has a certificate in business administration, a diploma in human resource management and plans on studying for a degree soon. “Education alone creates unseen opportunities for people and, therefore, music should never be the reason one does not go to school,” he speaks of his decision to return to school.
Of the many songs he has sung, it goes without saying that the song titled Mama Kelele with comedian Jimmy Okot, better known as Oulanya Columbus is one not to be ignored. Using satire, the comedian laments about his wife’s loud mouth, and is harmonised by Mark P in the end sounding drums to the reality of a typical domestic quarrel. In 2008, Mark P had a song that graced many radio stations titled Eong.
“It is a song about how you help many, but they do not help you when you need them,” Mark P explains. He believes that a good deed deserves another. Ocoite a new creation of the singer although only one month old dispenses a good deal of advice. In a society littered with ill-intentioned people, Mark P believes that one ought to watch their back and thus the title Ocoite loosely translated as be careful!
The power of music
“Music has the power to make or break society,” Mark P easily states. He says it is the voice of comfort that soothes the depressed, or motions the wandering to the right direction amid tough times. “We should never take the power of music for granted because it is one of those forces that reaches all,” he firmly says.
Despite the passion he has for music and his perseverance in the industry, the biggest challenge Mark P has had in his career is marketing. “One needs a trustworthy management team to handle marketing, which is quite hard to find,” he says.
The late DJ Ronnie had promised to take on his management, but fate had other plans and before ink could find paper, Ronnie Sempagi’s passed on. Despite these challenges, Mark P’s satisfaction in the music career stems from putting a smile on someone’s face.
Inspired by Mark P
John Oumo, a telecom engineer
Mark P motivates the youth in Teso. He developed what he already had and shared it with others and that is what really calls my attention to him. He changed the face of Teso music from only traditional to also contemporary which the youth can relate with.
Cathy Ajilong an artsite
He has inspired the youth in Teso to follow their dreams and use their talents. It is, therefore, right to say that Mark P is the reason a lot of young talent sprung up in the region.