and Joseph Batte
TWO untimely factors conspired to try to mar the western Uganda launch of the PAM Awards in Mbarara yesterday â€“â€“ heavy downpour and load shedding.
They managed to menace the jam-packed crowd in the street outside Vision Empire DiscothÃ¨que, which had been cordoned off to create an arena.
But it was not just the fans, who were affected, when they scampered for dear life to the verandahs of Vision Empire.
The artistes too could not perform to an empty arena despite MC Dennis Mawandaâ€™s persistent pleas. Then there was the equipment, which had to covered with kaveera. As for the power, Celtel and Bell, the major sponsors, provided a generator.
The sporadic rains meant that the show, which was supposed to have kicked off at 8:00pm, did so a little later than 9:00pm and ended past 2:00am! Not to mention the multitudes of Western-based artistes, who failed to get a chance to perform.
However, when things settled down, it was all-good. By 1:00am, crowds were still queuing to pay at the entrance. Like the Jinja-based artistes, western artistes tried to put on a good show.
But, we were under the distinct impression that most of them, predominantly young people, were competing amongst themselves to see who sounded better than either Jose Chameloene, Bobi Wine or Bebe Cool.
There was that lack of cultural finesse embodied by the regionâ€™s ekitagururo.
There was also a conspicuous shortage of Runyakitara lyrics, with most of these young artistes preferring to do either R&B, zouk, dancehall or kidandali in English or Luganda with only a smattering of their local dialect.
But some shone above the rest. Agatha Kaffoko, the wife to the owner of Vision Empire, with a little help from DJ Frank, a dancehall dynamo, effortlessly rocked the crowd with Heart Breaker.
She later did Owembe, which addressed the cultural decay among the Ankole youth.
Real A, Rasta Charz, Pop Star (who sings with Ma Africa Band) and Dr Shy are the other Mbarara-based singers who merit mention here.
However, Innomex & Jones, who took the PAM award for the regionâ€™s best artiste last year, failed to rise to the occasion.
But the second part of the show had more surprises than had been anticipated. There was an influx of too many Kampala-based artistes, you would think you were attending a kivulu in Nakivubo.
Ronald Mayinja, who rarely steps out, was at hand to rock the crowd with his Obasinga Nyo, a reggae-infused jam and Doreen, which attracted quite a following.
The toast of the night, however, were Blu*3, who appeared in gleaming black outfits. As they went through a string of their hit singles from Hitaji, Kanchanchanche, Tomalako to Frisky it was hard to control the sheer euphoria that swept across the audience.
Steve Jean, on his maiden performance in Masaka, gave us a taste of his Osobola Otya. Winnie Munyenga, who wowed the audience with her Kinyakore, performed three song, paving the way for the nightâ€™s last performer - Ragga Dee.
Other performers included Jungle Beat crew, which comprises Sweet Kid, Mosh and Rocky Giant. Akiiki Romeo also did a medley of popular songs - Genda Mpora, Sure Deal and No Parking, among others.
Rain disrupts Mbarara show