Kakoma composed the anthem in a day

Apr 08, 2012

Whenever the national anthem is played, people wonder how it was composed. Admittedly, it is a catchy tune.

By Charles Musisi

WHENEVER the national anthem is played, people wonder how it was composed. Admittedly, it is a catchy tune. And the melody is popular, even beyond our borders.

But how was it composed? Prior to independence, a subcommittee for the creation of national anthem was set up. It was one of the three sub-committees established to deal with Uganda's national symbols.

Professor Senteza Kajubi was the chairman of the committees. The sub-committee organised a country-wide publicity campaign for original compositions. Ugandans were encouraged to submit their pieces.

"The compositions had to be short, original, solemn, praising and looking forward to the future. They had to be harmonised in the usual four parts-soprano, alto, tenor and ass," says Kakoma.

Many people participated in the music competition.

"Nevertheless the committee was not satis-fied with the compositions. At 10 pm there was an announcement on Radio Uganda that the subcom¬mittee for the national anthem had received several compositions but none was satisfactory. Therefore more entries were required and time was running out," recalls Kakoma."
I went to bed with a saddened heart but deeply thinking about what to offer the commit¬tee."

Prof. Senteza Kajubi says he contacted Kakoma and asked him to "save" the committee because they did not have a national anthem.

According to Kakoma, a strange tune rang continuously in his head at night, disrupting his sleep. He decided to wake up and put pen to paper.

"There was complete darkness in the room I was occupying. I courageously jumped out of bed, fumbled with the bag and got out what I had wanted.

I scribbled just a few words of the text, as the inspiration dictated. I got back into bed, but having already provoked my intellect. I was left rehearsing inwardly what I had already committed to paper and went on adding a few details a few details until daybreak."

In the morning, Kakoma pursued his dream.

"I sat down and looked through what I had ciphered during the night hours. I worked on those ideas till midday."

The next day he travelled to Kampala to meet Kajubi. He advised him to train a choir, and then record the song on a magnetic tape.
Kakoma says he consulted his friend, Peter Wingard, then a lecturer at Makerere Institute of Education.
They analysed and discussed the music, and agreed on the beat.

"There was nothing to change in as far as the music transcription was concerned in all the four stanzas of harmony. The next step was to visit King's College Budo choir. When all this was accomplished, I rushed to the chairman and handed him the required recording," Kakoma says.

"Kakoza's tune was good but long. Kakoma's had one advantage, it was short and easy to learn," says Prof. Kajubi.

"Some members thought it was too short, so we sent the two anthems to the Cabinet. Kakoma's was selected as the national anthem."

Kakoma's tune was just one of the many entries. Other composers included the late Canon Polycarp Kakooza and Prof. Mbabi Katana.
In July 1962 , Kakoma was declared the winner. It was too good to be true.

"I was sceptical and couldn't believe my ears until my friends rang me and some came to con¬gratulate me."

Prof. Kakoma, 80, a graduate of Trinity College of Music and Durham University in London, complains about the reward for his effort. "My royalties have been infringed upon for 41 years."

This article was first published in the New Vision newspaper of October 9, 2003


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