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Makeba, Mtukudzi to fire up Kampala

By Vision Reporter

Added 2nd October 2008 03:00 AM

JAZZ fans will be treated to a fun-filled independence weekend. The Warid Kampala International Jazz Festival is scheduled for October 10 and October 12.

JAZZ fans will be treated to a fun-filled independence weekend. The Warid Kampala International Jazz Festival is scheduled for October 10 and October 12.

By Jude Katende

JAZZ fans will be treated to a fun-filled independence weekend. The Warid Kampala International Jazz Festival is scheduled for October 10 and October 12.

It will feature some of Africa’s greatest musicians like Miriam Makeba; Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi; Third World Love and Uganda’s Isaiah Katumwa, Joel Sebonju, Baxmba Waves, Godfrey Lubuulwa and Soul Beat Africa.

Dubbed Amani (peace in Kiswhahili), the festival is aimed at uplifting African music, especially jazz. Organisers say the festival is designed to promote African jazz in Uganda by showcasing Ugandan and African artistes and creating opportunities for African and international musicians to learn from each other.

The festival’s objectives include promoting Ugandan local and international jazz artistes and festivals in Uganda as a tourist activity as well as creating a tradition of jazz celebration in Kampala.

The leading team comprises Ugandans, Africans and international stars. The festival will include interactive workshops for young artistes, open jam sessions every evening after the shows and quality Jazz.

The concerts will be spread out each night during the event. Other activities will include jazz movies, meetings with artistes, traditional musical instruments and Afro-jazz. The workshops will be held at Ndere Centre in Ntinda.

Miriam Makeba
For many years, Miriam Makeba, popularly referred to as Mama Africa, has been a leading African jazz artiste who has promoted African jazz worldwide. In fact, her biography is the story of African jazz.

Makeba is not only a great musician and a symbol for African music, especially Jazz, but also a source of inspiration and hope. Her long musical career and struggle for freedom still motivates and directs young African artistes.

The upcoming jazz festival is dedicated to her. Makeba was born on March 4, 1932 in Johannesburg, South Africa. According to, her professional career began in the 1950s with the Manhattan Brothers, before she formed her own group, The Skylarks, singing a blend of jazz and traditional melodies of South Africa.

In 1959, she performed in the musical King Kong alongside Hugh Masekela. Her break came when she starred in the anti apartheid documentary Come Back, Africa in 1959.

Makeba travelled to London where she met Harry Belafonte, who assisted her in gaining fame in the US. She released many of her famous hits there, including Pata Pata, The Click Song (Qongqothwane in Xhosa) and Malaika.

In 1966, Makeba received the Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording together with Harry Belafonte for An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba. The album dealt with the political plight of black South Africans during apartheid.

In 1963, after testifying against apartheid before the United Nations, her South African citizenship and her right to return to the country were revoked. She has had nine passports, and was granted honourary citizenship by 10 countries.

Nelson Mandela persuaded her to return to South Africa in 1990. In 1992 she starred in the South African movie, Sarafina. The movie is about the 1976 Soweto youth uprisings. She acted as the mother, Angelina.

In 2001 she was awarded the Gold Otto Hahn Peace Medal by the United Nations Association of Germany in Berlin, for her outstanding contributions to peace and international understanding.

In 2002, she shared the Polar Music Prize with Sofia Gubaidulina. In 2004, Makeba was voted 38th in the Top 100 Great South Africans. She started a worldwide farewell tour in 2005, holding concerts in the countries that she had visited during her working life. Since 1960, she has recorded over 25 albums.

The upcoming jazz festival is sponsored by Warid Telecom, Uganda Breweries, the Uganda Wildlife Authority, Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort, Coca- Cola, the Ministry of Tourism, South African Airlines and Kobil.

Isaiah Katimwa
ISAIAH Katumwa no longer needs introduction after establishing himself since leaving his London base. With his saxophone, he reminds many of Kenny G and Dave Koz.

He has played at high-profile functions and international music festivals alongside Africa’s renowned saxophonist, Manu Dibango, The Flecktons and Phil Driscoll.

Katumwa was also among the first African artistes to perform at Concertgebouw, the renowned European classical temple in Amsterdam.

Sinza, his recent gospel album, is rich in smooth jazz and fine saxophone codes played in typical African style. Recorded in the United Kingdom, the six-track album is one of the most popular works among the African church community in the diaspora.

Third World Love
FROM Israel comes Third World Love. Many folks would usually associate Israel with war but the Israelites, too, have nice music and testimony is from this four-member band.

The band was born as a unique musical brotherhood that has resulted in numerous tours where tickets usually sell out. They have three successful recordings, Third World Love Songs, Avanim and Sketch of Tel Aviv.

Three of its members originate from Israel and one from New York (Daniel Freedman, a drummer). Others are Yonatan Avishai, a pianist, Avishai Cohen, trumpeter and Omer Avital, bass guitarist.

According to their website,, they will be performing after Miriam Makeba.

Godfrey Lubuulwa
LUBUULWA’S music is characteristically Ugandan, but it constantly grows, featuring a diverse cultures worldwide.

The result is a culturally rich, sophisticated and soulful world music fusion that captures the interest of a diverse audience.

Joel Sebonju
SEBONJU is one of Uganda’s young promising jazz artistes. He incorporates his original sound with traditional music to create soothing sounds. He recently had a show in Kampala and impressed revellers. His jazz is largely influenced by West African cultural music. When Sebonju plays the harp, he is as good as Salif Keita or Ismael Lo, while his vocals are like Youssou Ndour’s.

Oliver Mtukudzi
SINCE 1978 he has recorded over 45 albums including the anticipated 2008 release Dairai (Believe). Born in 1952 in Harare, Mtukudzi is perhaps the best thing to come out of Zimbabwe. He began performing in 1977 when he joined the Wagon Wheels, a band which featured Zimbabwean legend Thomas Mapfumo. He has five children and two grandchildren, two of whom are musicians. He enjoys swimming in his guitar-shaped swimming pool and cannot remember the number of awards he has won. His blending of Southern African music traditions, including Mbira, Mbaqanga, Jit and the traditional drumming styles of the korekore, has created such a unique sound that it has been dubbed Tuku Music. After his stint with Wagon Wheels, he formed a new group, the Black Spirits. Mtukudzi has consistently balanced his musical career with his passion for film and drama. He played a big role in the composition of the soundtrack for the film, Neria. Mtukudzi reached his commercial peak with the album Tuku Music, which lasted 11 weeks at the top of the CMJ New World Music Charts. This will not be the first time he is visiting Uganda. When he was here in 2006 at Sabrina’s Pub, he caused a stir with revellers shaking vigorously, especially to tunes Todii and Neria. It was also exciting to see the singer himself join in the fray and dance along with his Black Spirits Band. Then, he said he felt good being in Uganda for the first time. “We use music to diffuse tension and offload stress. In Africa, you don’t sing when you have nothing to say. We sing about frustrations, pain and joy,” he said. Mtukudzi said he was forced to study, but when it came to marriage, he realised the importance of school because he had to propose in English!

Soul Beat Africa
THE band has toured Africa and played at festivals in Europe and America as well. They have played at shows organised by Alliance Francaise and Uganda German Cultural Society.

Makeba, Mtukudzi to fire up Kampala

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