Serukenya wrote various popular folk classics, secular and church music for artistes such as Eclas Kawalya and Jimmy Katumba; groups like Nyonza Singers, and church choirs like St. Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe.
As the casket that held celebrated composer Wassanyi Serukenya's body laid on the stage in the National Theatre auditorium on Monday, performing artistes expressed their adoration of his talent.
Veteran and young artistes paid tribute to the composer, playwright and singer whose music partly shaped the sound in 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
Engineer Henry Wassanyi Serukenya, aged 81 years, died on Saturday of a kidney failure. Mourners said by the time of his death, Serukenya was one of the industry's strong pillars, given the mentorship he lent various artistes.
But what stood prominent in the eulogises was the artistes' admiration for his ingenuity in writing songs. Serukenya composed over 100 songs.
Serukenya wrote various popular folk classics, secular and church music for artistes such as Eclas Kawalya and Jimmy Katumba; groups like Nyonza Singers, and church choirs like St. Paul's Cathedral Namirembe.
The event was part of the activities to send off Serukenya, who will be laid to rest on Wednesday at 4:00pm at his ancestral home in Bugoye, Kyaggwe, Mukono district.
What some of them said
Phillip Luswata, actor and playwright
Wassanyi Serukenya to me is a mentor. These are the people we found at theatre and shaped us into what we are today. He inspired us, motivated, judged and made us produce the good work we do today. He was such as an icon.
It is sad that they are rarely any such big to bring young people up. His passing on is another wakeup call to reflect on the prosperity of the industry.
Robert Kawadwa, artist and son to late Bryon Kawadwa
He was the dad after our dad (Bryon Kawadwa) passed on. He gave me hope, grooming me into a performing artist. But most important, he brought the new feel in the theatre industry in Uganda. He was a big asset to the industry.
Diplock Ssegawa, singer
We enjoyed his music and started following his works. He inspired us into music and striving to do good art. He was so organic. The fact that he has put his music on paper, it gives his music an edge to living for a long time and go far. He has trained many singers.
Juliet Sessanga, songstress
He was our dad in the Musician Club of national Theatre. He groomed us. I request that National Curriculum to include Wassanyi Sserukenya's music into the music teaching curriculum. His music is so authentic. Instead of singing recitals that are foreign, why don't we do music for such artists that are original and which we can relate to.
Sam Bagenda, actor with Ebonies
He is a paternal uncle first. A very good friend close. He gave me the first job and groomed me into what I am. But in the field of art, he was incomparable. He is the original crème del' crème. That he is gone is sad, but we can borrow a leaf.
Paul Jingo, actor with Ebonies
I didn't know him on personal level, but I followed his works to the dot. As a kid, I loved his music that played on UTV. We grow up inspired by him. My mother who was in Nyonza Singers used to talk a lot about Serukenya's talent, and thus I grew up adoring his creativity.
Prossy Migadde Nampiima, artist of defunct Kampala City Players
When we sang you made a mistake, he would request you to first relax for some time. He was a perfectionist. He pushed you to be the best you can be as a musician.
Musisi Mukalazi, formerly with Kampala City Players.
Serukenya trained us to sing. He always made us strive for perfection in singing. He is a hero in our field. He was very talented and knowledgeable in music, and music came from within.
Jack Kinobe Sserukuma, performing artist
I learned Serukenya as a young boy. He cared for and groomed me into a mature artist. We have worked with him in the musician club and he has been that person you would reach for guidance at any time.
But I adored his skill of writing. We grew up listening to interesting folk songs we didn't know he had created. We rarely have such talent these days. The good thing is, he left them written and the generations to come will sing them in their right beautiful style.
Joel Sebunjo, musician
I have known him for at least 15 years. With his big profile as an artist, he was one of the few we have in Uganda who could document their music with professionally because he was well-versed with the techniques. He has been one of our local composers, in the real sense of composer and he was a must of choral music.
Sarah Nalunkuma, former singer, actor of defunct Kampala City Players
Serukenya was so passionate to the extent of sacrificing his money to see that an artist is around for rehearsals. He was so social and a friend of everyone. His art practice was not about money; it was at his heart.
Julius Lugaaju, arts entrepreneur
My major interaction with Eng. Serukenya was when I was managing Theatre Factory. He was one of our patrons and he believed in us. He would critique our work and provide guidance on what to do to produce good art. He was a mentor who is needed for one to traverse the artistic world