Special Features
69-year-old Atude saves generation from illiteracy
Publish Date: Feb 03, 2014
69-year-old Atude saves generation from illiteracy
Atude composed Emaali during the 80s. Photos by Caroline Ariba
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Vision Group, in association with Twaweza Initiative and Buzz Events, is seeking to recognise artistes whose compositions advance society. Today, Caroline Ariba pro les 69-year-old Atude, who has fought illiteracy through musicVision Group, in association with Twaweza Initiative and Buzz Events, is seeking to recognise artistes whose compositions advance society. Today, Caroline Ariba pro les 69-year-old Atude, who has fought illiteracy through music

The mid 80s were magical years indeed. See, it was then that the song Emaali burst onto the airwaves in Teso gripping many and eventually traversing the country. Unknown to those outside Teso is that the voice behind this celebratory song is a partially blind 69-year-old Patrick Atude who hails from Kelim village in Atutur sub-county, Kumi district. Emaali, a song initially thought to be one to celebrate marriage and receipt of dowry broke wide open the dialogue of how child neglect is a time bomb to any parent. “Emaali means wealth and in the early 90s, if you wanted to get a parent to look after their child, you would just mention that,” says Kokas Aryong, an elderly.

He says it was one of the songs the local leaders used to get parents to take their daughters to school. “Many people would look after their girls until they were of child-bearing age and then marry them off for a cow or two,” Aryong says. When it came to the boys, they were given a piece of land and set them off into the world. “Eyayaya, ejok awarudi ikon koku eyauni emaali…wulululu emaali, wululu emotoka, wululu edabada!” Aryong happily belts out the famous Emaali chorus sung in Ateso, which is loosely translated as “it is good to have children for they will bring you wealth, a car and trousers,”.

Atude says this was incentive enough to get parents to raise their children right and educate them because then the cars and clothes did not only come from marriage, but at graduation parties too. “Who wanted to miss out on emaali,The mid 80s were magical years indeed. See, it was then that the song Emaali burst onto the airwaves in Teso gripping many and eventually traversing the country. Unknown to those outside Teso is that the voice behind this celebratory song is a partially blind 69-year-old Patrick Atude who hails from Kelim village in Atutur sub-county, Kumi district.

Emaali, a song initially thought to be one to celebrate marriage and receipt of dowry broke wide open the dialogue of how child neglect is a time bomb to any parent. “Emaali means wealth and in the early 90s, if you wanted to get a parent to look after their child, you would just mention that,” says Kokas Aryong, an elderly. He says it was one of the songs the local leaders used to get parents to take their daughters to school. “Many people would look after their girls until they were of child-bearing age and then marry them off for a cow or two,” Aryong says. When it came to the boys, they were given a piece of land and set them off into the world.

“Eyayaya, ejok awarudi ikon koku eyauni emaali…wulululu emaali, wululu emotoka, wululu edabada!” Aryong happily belts out the famous Emaali chorus sung in Ateso, which is loosely translated as “it is good to have children for they will bring you wealth, a car and trousers,”. Atude says this was incentive enough to get parents to raise their children right and educate them because then the cars and clothes did not only come from marriage, but at graduation parties too. “Who wanted to miss out on emaali,if you abandoned your child, the tougher your old age,” says Agnes Akwii who hails from Teso and now lives in Luzira with her child.

She says she and her husband were peasants, but because of the debate that this song raised in Teso, they knew they had to take the children to school. “Ebaala ekosio emaali, ngaibo mam ekoto iboro lu ajokak?” Akwii says in Ateso meaning that the song says Emaali and who would not want good things? “Just like that, a song that was for marriage and graduation ceremonies now became a song that reminded parents of what they would miss out on if they neglected their children,” Akwii explains. She remembers Atude moving from village to village singing his song and his message was loud and clear.

“It is not good for parents to raise children only for the future benefi ts, but how were you going to convince them to start, if it was not through a promise of future gains?” she asks. For her it was a start because after that, many songs telling parents to take their children to school came up, to back-up Emaali.

Atude speaks out While many might need a microphone and improved sound system, all Atude needs is a day’s meal and his 27-yearold thumb piano locally known as the akogo to get started. In a sharp but fi rm musical note he begins, “eong Atude, lo Kelim, Kumi district oyeh….oyeh!” (I am called Atude, from Kelim, Kumi district oh yes, oh yes), he calls out. Right after that, he grips his piano, pinching andif you abandoned your child, the tougher your old age,” says Agnes Akwii who hails from Teso and now lives in Luzira with her child.

She says she and her husband were peasants, but because of the debate that this song raised in Teso, they knew they had to take the children to school. “Ebaala ekosio emaali, ngaibo mam ekoto iboro lu ajokak?” Akwii says in Ateso meaning that the song says Emaali and who would not want good things? “Just like that, a song that was for marriage and graduation ceremonies now became a song that reminded parents of what they would miss out on if they neglected their children,” Akwii explains.

She remembers Atude moving from village to village singing his song and his message was loud and clear. “It is not good for parents to raise children only for the future benefi ts, but how were you going to convince them to start, if it was not through a promise of future gains?” she asks. For her it was a start because after that, many songs telling parents to take their children to school came up, to back-up Emaali.

Atude speaks out While many might need a microphone and improved sound system, all Atude needs is a day’s meal and his 27-yearold thumb piano locally known as the akogo to get started. In a sharp but fi rm musical note he begins, “eong Atude, lo Kelim, Kumi district oyeh….oyeh!” (I am called Atude, from Kelim, Kumi district oh yes, oh yes), he calls out. Right after that, he grips his piano, pinching andif you abandoned your child, the tougher your old age,” says Agnes Akwii who hails from Teso and now lives in Luzira with her child. She says she and her husband were peasants, but because of the debate that this song raised in Teso, they knew they had to take the children to school.

“Ebaala ekosio emaali, ngaibo mam ekoto iboro lu ajokak?” Akwii says in Ateso meaning that the song says Emaali and who would not want good things? “Just like that, a song that was for marriage and graduation ceremonies now became a song that reminded parents of what they would miss out on if they neglected their children,” Akwii explains. She remembers Atude moving from village to village singing his song and his message was loud and clear. “It is not good for parents to raise children only for the future benefi ts, but how were you going to convince them to start, if it was not through a promise of future gains?” she asks.

For her it was a start because after that, many songs telling parents to take their children to school came up, to back-up Emaali. Atude speaks out While many might need a microphone and improved sound system, all Atude needs is a day’s meal and his 27-yearold thumb piano locally known as the akogo to get started. In a sharp but fi rm musical note he begins, “eong Atude, lo Kelim, Kumi district oyeh….oyeh!” (I am called Atude, from Kelim, Kumi district oh yes, oh yes), he calls out. Right after that, he grips his piano, pinching andif you abandoned your child, the tougher your old age,” says Agnes Akwii who hails from Teso and now lives in Luzira with her child.

She says she and her husband were peasants, but because of the debate that this song raised in Teso, they knew they had to take the children to school. “Ebaala ekosio emaali, ngaibo mam ekoto iboro lu ajokak?” Akwii says in Ateso meaning that the song says Emaali and who would not want good things? “Just like that, a song that was for marriage and graduation ceremonies now became a song that reminded parents of what they would miss out on if they neglected their children,” Akwii explains.

She remembers Atude moving from village to village singing his song and his message was loud and clear. “It is not good for parents to raise children only for the future benefi ts, but how were you going to convince them to start, if it was not through a promise of future gains?” she asks. For her it was a start because after that, many songs telling parents to take their children to school came up, to back-up Emaali.

Atude speaks out

While many might need a microphone and improved sound system, all Atude needs is a day’s meal and his 27-yearold thumb piano locally known as the akogo to get started. In a sharp but fi rm musical note he begins, “eong Atude, lo Kelim, Kumi district oyeh….oyeh!” (I am called Atude, from Kelim, Kumi district oh yes, oh yes), he calls out. Right after that, he grips his piano, pinching and clipping it as he melts into the song. “Eyayaya ejok awurida ekon koku eyauni emaali,” he sings to mean it is good to have children for they will give you wealth.

The words are perfect, but the state of euphoria that this talented old man lays around is phenomenal. “This song was inspired by the words of a childless couple that used to call raising children a burden,” Atude tells of the origin of Emaali. This couple was left jaws wide open when they attended a marriage ceremony of an educated girl and the in-laws brought a car, gomesi, trousers and much more on top of the dowry. “Opotu itunga nu iteykisi iboro lu do ateyar ebe, eh, konye ejok teni awurida,” he narrates in Ateso to mean that the childless couple were envious of all that was brought and said it is really good to have children.”

It was then that words lingered in his mind and up came a tune, aided by his akogo and boom, the Emaali song was birthed.

Other songs

In the famous ‘California’ trading centre in Kelim village, you will fi nd him trotting the village in song and the latest to his collection is Ochadula.

This song hits at the lazy man who is to blame for the famine in his home and in turn blames the Government and roams from home to home begging. “Isomaite luche ilodai jo alosit… ebe isomaite luche ilodai jo alosit ….ochadula, emamete imumwa ochadula…emamete alosi da.. ochadula…do alosit makach makach.. makach makach,” he passionately springs out in the song. He says that while others work, the lazy man roams around, yet he has not a grain of sorghum or millet in his granary.

The words ‘Makach… makach’ are a purely comical way of describing a walk and the people in the California trading centre in Kumi nod in approval.

Challenges

In the early 90s, Emaali was re-done without his permission by a re-known artiste and Atude was robbed of the chance to own it. Last year, the artiste came up to say that she thought it was a folk song and admitted that it was a great song and that was why she took it on.

As if that was enough, Warid, a telecom company (now merged with Airtel) used the Emaali song in an advert and gave no appreciation to its creator. “I would like to sing much more but as a poor old man, I cannot do much,’ he says. Music no doubt is Atude’s passion, but unlike his fellow talented lot, he has been squeezed to the core and has almost nothing to show for it, as he heads for tougher days.

INSPIRED BY ATUDE

Jonathan Ekochu, a journalist and political activist

Patrick Atude is one of the biggest voices we have in Teso. His song Emaali gives a clear picture of what a parent and the community would feel on the day of their child’s marriage or graduation. It is some sort of accountability as to how you raised your child, which is done communally in Teso

Patrick Ojilong, a social worker

Definitely, the song Emaali is a source of motivation to parents that by raising their children right, they will reap in the future. It seeks to maintain family continuity through grand children.

Paul Odong, a researcher

The Emaali song has not only motivated the people of Teso to educate their children, but also to raise them in a morally upright way. A girl, who is raised morally, gets married and brings home emaali, as is the Teso tradition

 

 

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