During the first session facilitator Alai K. gave practical demonstrations and hands-on insight into recording traditional instruments. For this session a musician was present to play in the instruments to be recorded. In the following sessions on music production, these recordings were used as samples.
The second session gave an overview on available modern production tools, such as production software, hardware and main production techniques as well as of current African music landscapes. These included the role and place of pop music vs niche/ alternative scenes, including folklore and its modern manifestations. Participants explored techniques of how to use machines to express originality and depth on the one hand and a more uniform sound on the other hand (autotune, compression and sound quality, song writing and song structure). Following up on the previous section, participants were guided into sharpening basic production techniques. Together with the facilitators, participants also looked into creative roles of artists and producers, how to get the best out of this interaction, especially in terms of differentiation. An important question to be tackled eventually was how these blocks fit in with local sounds, traditions, and public expectations.
Facilitators of the Workshop
Alai K is a Kenyan music producer, musician, songwriter, and the creator of Disco Vumbi. He has been part of the Kenyan music industry since 1995, starting out with the Hip Hop collective Ukoo Flani and afterwards pursuing his solo career as a singer and songwriter. Later on he ventured into music production and that is when Disco Vumbi emerged. The name Disco Vumbi refers to a saying from the 1970s when people would go out to a dance in the streets and came home covered in dust (Kiswahili: vumbi). His musical style is inspired by East African music from the 1950s to 1990s and mixes traditional and modern instruments that feature Mijikenda (Bantu people at the Kenyan coast), Chakacha and Benga rhythms. Alai K produced the first EP “Boutiq Electroniq“ of Kampala based label Nyege Nyege Tapes that was released in January 2017. The EP features the Ugandan instrumentalists Martin Juicy Fonkodi and the Nilotica Drum Ensemble and was sold out two weeks after its release.
Alai K is well experienced in collaborating with international musicians and producers. Between 2009 and 2010 he was part of BLNRB, a collaborative project by Goethe-Institut Kenya and Gebrüder Teichmann. Musicians and producers from Berlin and Nairobi such as Jahcoozi, Modeselektor, Ukoo Flani, Nazizi, and Just A Band lived, produced and performed together in Nairobi and Berlin. In 2016, Alai K worked together with Santuri East Africa on a project called “Bridging the Gap” as artist coordinator and producer. He assisted Emile Hoogenhout (aka Behr) from South Africa with his recording of traditional East African instruments that were eventually developed into the unique Ableton Live Racks.
Benjamin is the CEO of Akwaaba Music, an Accra based label and agency connecting African artists with global audiences and opportunities. Akwaaba’s work places Benjamin at the nexus of the Ghanaian music industry and the global music business. He has been living in Ghana for the past 6 years, and has traveled to 23 African countries to scout for artists, to perform as DJ BBRAVE, to take part in workshops and conferences, and more generally to collaborate with cultural institutions. As such Benjamin has hosted DJ workshops for the Institut Français du Burundi, Institut Français du Rwanda, and the Nafasi Art Space organization in Tanzania. Benjamin has also participated in panels at renowned music conferences such as WOMEX, Atlantic Music Expo, where he also took part in a one-on-one mentoring program. Recently Lebrave also founded the Power Play music symposium in Accra, which gathered a wide range of industry professionals, to provide much needed advice to artists and their teams. Benjamin is also a well-established DJ, having performed in over 40 countries across 4 continents, as the dance-floor ambassador for Akwaaba Music.
Michael Dela Gafatchi
Michael is one of the pioneers of Ghana’s azonto sound, a dance and musical genre, which reached unprecedented global audiences in 2012. At home in Ghana, he has produced songs for some of the biggest names in the industry, including acclaimed artists Sarkodie, Samini, Edem, D-Black and countless others. More recently his electronic project Jowaa has seen him collaborating with international artists and media outlets, including influential Lisbon-based label Enchufada, and equally influential London-based BBC 1xtra and NTS radios. Michael has intimate knowledge of FL Studio and Cubase, the most widespread music production software in most of Africa. Using these tools, he has become an expert at translating his vast rhythmic heritage into effective, yet highly localized beats for pop artists.
With Jowaa, Michael has taken a step away from the mainstream to come closer to his own musical aspiration. The project has also allowed him to go from studio to stage, an extremely rare feat for an African producer. Today Michael is able to carry his studio work to the stage, using Ableton Live along with affordable music controllers. By doing so, Michael goes full circle by taking the music back to its performing roots.
The Jalada is a full month festival in which the bus travels through different places in east Africa and each stop is accompanied by activities like panel discussions, readings, and master class trainings. The festival’s major aim is to celebrate diversity and create living connections between writers, artists, and diverse audiences in the big cities and small towns across East Africa.
The first day had workshop comprising of 15 participants who responded to an open call by Jalada. The workshop was majorly teaching about translations and was facilitated by Nanfuka Margaret a lecturer at Makerere University. The workshop was followed by a panel discussion about dispelling the language of silence moderated by Hilda Twongyeirwe, the director of FEMRITE.
The second day also had a panel discussion about Modern Folk lore: social change reflected I oral literarure, with Richard Oduor and Tibasiima Isaac moderated by Peter Kagayi.
Both days were wrapped up with spoken word and poetry by Mwanaweika, lule Raymond, Omara Daniel and Rushongoza.
from Zimbabwe (Outspoken),Tanzania (Nash Mc), Kenya (Juma), Rwanda (Eric 1Key) and Germany (Megaloh and Ghanaian Stallion). The two collaborative songs that emerged from the project reflect the great positive energy of the group and bear the message that music has to be more than entertainment.
On the 18th of September, Goethe-Zentrum Kampala with the help of the Goethe Institut brought to the gifted wordsmith, rapper and poet Akua Naru to the Bayimba International Festival of the Arts 2016. Her performance turned out to be the most highlighted shows at the festival.
Akua Naru, who lives in Germany and released her debut album “The Journey Aflame” in 2011, has solidified herself in short time on the scene as a model for what women can be in hip hop. Her latest release “The Miner’s Canary” (2015) has been recorded live over a two year period featuring various talented musicians from around the globe. With classic ‘boom bap’ influenced hip-hop sounds, socially conscious rhymes and elements of jazz and soul, Akua Naru has been associated with key hip-hop figures such as Lauryn Hill and The Roots.
Akua Naru has performed with the world renowned Afro Beat pioneer and Fela Kuti drummer Tony Allen, toured with classic Hip Hop group Lords Of The Underground, & shared the stage/collaborated with artists Patrice, Tete, Ursula Rucker, Blitz The Ambassador, German production powerhouse JR &Ph7, Detroit emcee Elzhi, Wax Tailor, Uk rapper TY, Voice Of Germany soul singer, Mic Donet, and recently featured on a new Red Hot release along side Tuneyards and legends Angelique Kidjo and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of the legendary Roots crew.
The band arrived right on time on Saturday 17th September at Entebbe and didn’t waste time as they got busy; eager to meet the other artistes and producers they were to work with during their stay. Akua Naru went to the National Theatre that very evening; meeting with Sandra Suubi and the O’flynn (Blip Discs ) – one of the producers. The chemistry between the artistes during this meet led to more people were suggest for this session (including MoRoots and Giovanni Kiyingi)
The morning before the show Akua and her guitarist were picked up and taken to the National Theatre studio (Little Penny Studios) for the scheduled jam / recording studio session. This session would give an insight in the chemistry among all the artistes and yes it was spot on magical as the participants produced 2 tracks with the local acts.
Akua Naru ensured that music fans had something to talk about beyond the festival. Her eclectic performance presented hip hop in a light many have not witnessed in Uganda. She performed with authority. Backed by a wealth of experience, she struck a strong relationship with the crowd.
She rapped her lines, blending a contemporary diction with poetry. The thematic variety of her music was wide-ranging. From romance to political activism, Naru’s music wowed the crowd even as her song ‘Africa Unite’ was probably received with mixed feelings. Her unapologetic, brutally honest messages about colonialism, slave trade, racism and black power might have rubbed a few the wrong way but the music did not stop.
The crowd showered her with love. At one point one reveler beat security and got that dream handshake on stage with the singer.
Some of the links about her performance;
Femme Electronic is a platform to encourage women in the field of electronic music, to create a network, to connect and to exchange experiences. Femme Electronic organizes workshops for female participants with experienced DJs and Producers from Uganda and abroad. In 2016 we have been running three workshops with international guests such as Ena Lind (Berlin), Black Madonna (USA).
The immediate association one has in relation to a red line is a line whose function is to divide, to mark territories, to separate.
ASINGLELINE wants to look at this basic, generic entity of a line and look at it simply from another point of view: a line’s function is also to connect, to link, to bring things which are far from each other geographically or mentally closer together.
ASINGLELINE is a straight line drawn from one point which is the city center all the way to a second point which is a cultural center building: a theater, a museum or other. The line is neither a performance, nor an installation, it is a thought put into action, meant to connect, almost literally, the public – society and their art – choreography and performance, driving MAMAZA and the local team who collaborates with them on the project, to cross the city through its public spaces – squares, streets, parks – and its private ones – domestic houses, shops, restaurants – in order to accomplish the drawing the line. The action of drawing the line is based on the collaboration with the local team as well as with different people who come across the line. It is therefore a process which occurs through negotiation and the constant search for possible communication.
After its initial realization of ASINGLELINE in Antwerp/Belgium in 2011, MAMAZA has been invited to realize the project in Burkina Faso, South Africa and Nigeria (by the Goethe-Institute), as well as in Lausanne, Switzerland, Jerusalem, Petach Tikva and Haifa in Israel, Maputo in Mozambique and in Venice, Italy. MAMAZA is now continuing their tour through sub-Saharan Africa by visiting Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya.
In cooperation with the local ecoartist Bruno Ruganzo and Desire MAMAZA have been also to Uganda.
On Saturday 16th May, Goethe-Zentrum Kampala/UGCS organized an event so full of internationally minded as well as locally influenced music that was just right for the taste of the Ugandan night folk. SCHLACHTHOFBRONX came to visit the city and stir the night up with their innovative mix of styles.
Schlachthofbronx, is the unofficial name of their district in Munich, Germany. With a smirk Benedikt admits that when children used to call this name that it really used to be funny. Their sense of humor and their relaxed way of dealing with any kind of environment is surely a bonus in their constant travels around the world. However, the DJ-Duo says that the concept of their music was never made to remain local; influenced by all kinds of genres and people the two started deejaying at the ages of 12 and 14 and remember back to the times of Myspace, when people all over the world started inviting them to play. “From there it just happened”, Jakob says. Their international success is related to the fact that they committed to producing and mainly playing “their own stuff”, which makes them unique as well as unpredictable musically. “In Europe you have to produce yourself to be successful”. A night with those two on stage promises to be fun. They both love what they do and show it by actively participating in the party when on stage. “I believe when people see how much we really enjoy this it washes over them too.”
The variety of musical styles on stage, from Reggae to Hip-Hop and traditional African percussions, reflects the diversity of the people dancing to the tunes. Many known faces are skimming through; having come out for an event that is special in Kampala city. Some of Uganda’s known B-girls and -boys are showing their skills in a spontaneous cypher on the dance floor while outside someone is spraying graffiti on the wall.
The main act of the night, the guys from Schlachthofbronx, is mingling with the people around the stage. In seemingly similar enthusiasm they are videotaping the other acts as well as their audience.
At promptly 1:00pm the lights go off, the music stops and a voice resonates through the microphone: “How are you doing tonight?” The crowd responds as if with one gigantic voice in a shout. The music starts as the two DJs finally put their hands to their equipment. Light effects make the room sparkle and absolutely everybody starts jumping. “I want everybody’s hands up”, it echoes through the hall and everybody’s hands go up. It’s like someone just flipped a switch and turned this laid-back party into a boiling cauldron. The volume rises, everybody who’s been standing outside seems to be rushing in, you can feel your heartbeat synchronize with the promised mix of Dancehall/Reggae, Hip-Hop, Booty Bass, Techno, Cumbia, UK Bass and many more. The party has begun and won’t stop until almost sunrise.
Only a few hours after said sunrise occurred Benedikt and Jakob stroll into the foyer of the National Theatre Kampala and sit down at the bar. They have come to conduct a workshop with a number of Ugandan artists this afternoon before they head off to their next destination: Nairobi.
While waiting for the workshop participants they recollect their experiences in Kampala with a contented and slightly exhausted demeanor concluding that the people here have been really friendly and much less distanced than they have experienced in other cities. They particularly enjoy the memory of having tattooed (they carry washable tattoo stickers with their logo around with them) most of the audience last night.
In preparation for their workshop they reminisce on their favorite aspects and most important habits of a DJ’s life. “Travel experience”, contents Benedikt and in unison they both add “food” as their favorite parts of their job. In that regard Jakob remembers that he still has to eat Rolex before he leaves. To young people acquiring a career in their footsteps the two agree: “Keep going! Think bigger than is realistic and work for it. Never forget to put style above success – stay true to yourself.” And “It really doesn’t matter what you have or what you don’t have as long as you do your best with it.”
With these wise words they welcome the eight participants of their workshop at the recording studio at National Theatre for a session of collaboration and creative work. The theme of the workshop is open and so is the outcome. Benedikt is of the view that a really good musical piece of completion won’t come out of the studio in less than five days. The participants, however, seem not only to agree, but to be eager to make this afternoon a time of sharing, learning from each other and building networks for the future.
Schlachthofbronx is currently traveling the globe. To their own account one third of their gigs are within Germany, another third within Europe and the rest in areas beyond that. The two released an album available on raveandromance.com.
© Christin Figueira
Burnt Friedman has been in the music business for over 30 years – still, his name wasn’t familiar to us when the Goethe-Institut in Munich approached us to become one of the locations for his Sub-Sahara Africa tour. The first impression of a “German electronic music” turned out to be a fallacy, after realising that the cooperation with a local artist would become an electronic-acoustic music experience.
In years of collaboration with his fellow musician Yaki Liebezeit, Burnt Friedman has learned to break down rhythms to their basic patterns and to divide them into cyclic rhythms. He plays these basic rhythms on different instruments and records them, creating tracks that he can program and play from his laptop. So, to come back to the fallacy – Friedman’s music is electronic in as much as it depends on speakers in order to be heard. However it neither fits in the electronic music genre, nor can be characterized as “German” music.
Equipped with his laptop and a mixer Burnt Friedman arrived in Kampala on 8th October2013 to rehearse seven of his tracks with Hakim Kiwanuka to put together a live concert that would take place two days later. Hakim Kiwanuka as percussionist and multi-instrumentalist mainly supports other musicians on stage, but has also just started his solo carrier. He plays nearly every Ugandan traditional instrument, from drums over flutes to the Dingidi (tube fiddle).
During the first workshop day Burnt Friedman and Hakim Kiwanuka approached slowly and shared their understanding of music.Friedman’s experience and Kiwanuka’s openness led to an incredibly fast understanding for the unfamiliar rhythm patterns that Friedman had brought. Despite of the national holiday – the 9th of October is Uganda’s Independence Day – a small group of journalists showed up for the announced press conference. The fusion of Kiwanuka’s traditional instruments and the sound patterns of Friedman’s mixer, that to inexperienced ears might sound somehow syncopated, convinced the journalists to return for the concert on the following evening.
The second day was dedicated to the fine-tuning and the sound check. On October 10th at 7pm the gates to the GZK/UGCS garden opened. About the same time a rain shower threatened to ruin the evening for organisers, musicians, sound team and audience. But the rain paused and allowed the two musicians to come on stage and create a one hour sound experience that was unfamiliar and pleasant at the same time.
It is fascinating how two musicians from different backgrounds are able to bring up such an impressive concert within a very short time, building a new bridge between Germany and Uganda and showing that Friedman’s “non-place” music concept does indeed work.
by Katharina Neidhardt
BLU UGA stands for „Blue Uganda“ – and blue stands for water. Under this theme 14 dedicated people from Germany travelled to Uganda with the charitable organization Viva con Agua St. Pauli and the German broadcasting company ZDF.
Viva con Agua (VcA) is a German charitable organization that promotes clean drinking water all over the world. VcA is supported by musicians, artists, football players and others through different activities that do not only create awareness on the topic, but also raise funds – for example on festivals through the donation of the cup deposit by the fans. These funds enable their cooperation partner Welthungerhilfe to finance projects related to water problems. Thanks to the dedication of VcA several wells have already been built all over Uganda. It was for the second time now, that VcA travelled to Uganda to visit some of their projects and to encourage a cultural exchange. The travelling group consisted of 14 people, among them the ZDF Kultur camera team, TV presenter Rainer Maria Jilg, Michael Fritz as a founding member of VcA, former football professional Marcel Eger – foundation member of VcA, photographer Paul Ripke, the musicians Marteria and Maeckes and street artist Loz Piratoz.
On Saturday 16th February the crew arrived at the Goethe-Zentrum Kampala. Together we made the cultural exchange reality: Maeckes and Marteria not only wrote a song with the Ugandan musicians Sylvester, Abramz, Lady Slyke and Bris Jean, they also recorded the song and performed it live on stage in front of 300 people during a touching concert on that same day. While the musicians got together at the Infinite 3 music studio, Loz Piratoz spent the afternoon with Ugandan graffiti artists Spoken Word and Kibuuka Oscar. Together they redesigned the GZK Kunst-Container – now the exhibition container is to be recognized as art also from the outside.
At 6pm the gates of GZK opened for the public. While the musicians were getting ready for the stage in the studio, the visitors could already take a look at the Kunst-Container. Loz Piratoz from the outside, photography from the inside: Viva con Agua exhibited selected pictures from some Welthungerhilfe projects taken by Paul Ripke. Next to them there was an exhibition of pictures from the water projects of the German development agency GIZ which made this concert and exchange on the 16th February possible. The Ugandan photographers Abdul Kinyenya, Rumanzi Canon and Arthur Conrad Kisitu visited the GIZ water projects in Kampala and its surroundings to document them through artistic captures.
A few minutes to 8pm it was finally time to start. The cheerful audience was guided through the evening by Michael Fritz and Rainer Maria Jilg, sharing their good vibes with the six musicians. Eleven year old Ugandan rapper MC Flower made a spontaneous guest appearance on stage. Each of the six musicians had an own slot on stage, crowned by the joint song “Blue Uganda”.
Around midnight the 14 travelers and the four Ugandan musicians got together happy, satisfied and a bit tired at our offices to touch glasses on this successful day. On Sunday they already continued with a common football match and on Monday with shooting the music video…
We want to thank Viva con Agua St. Pauli for this wonderful cooperation, the great concert and the amazing artwork on our container – and of course for all their dedication for clean drinking water worldwide.
Please visit for more information about Viva con Agua their official Homepage VIVACONAGUA
On 9th February 2012, on invitation of the Goethe-Zentrum Kampala/UGCS, the German-Nigerian singer Nneka performed together with the finest female voices of Uganda – Ife Piankhi, Tshila, Irene Ntale, Keko and the nine years old Hip-Hopper MC Flower – at the Goethe-Zentrum Kampala.
Press voices about Nneka:
„One of the best soul singers to emerge in the past few years“
The Times „Our girl Nneka is the greatest … this afro-soul rump-shaker is pure hotness“ Rolling Stone
„Girl power at Nneka conert“ – The Daily Monitor Kampala describes the show of as „a boundlessly energetic performance over three hours“
More than 1200 visitors celebrated a sweeping festival of music Since 2005 Nneka became a familiar name in the international music scene. As soon as she appears on stage she surprises the people with her unique fusion of soul, afro, reggae, R&B and hip-hop as well as her galvanic stage presence and depth.
Nneka Egbuna grew up in the Delta Region of Nigeria and relocated to Hamburg at the age of nineteen, but last year she decided to return to Nigeria. She put out her first album Victim of truth in 2005 followed by her second album No longer at Ease in 2008. Her third album, Soul is heavy (2011) which was produced in a flat in Nigeria`s bustling metropolis Lagos, is multi-faceted and “politically conscious”.
After her extensive Soul is heavy tour in Europe, Nneka is back on the road – this time bound for her native continent. Her East Africa tour took her to Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Zanzibar.
From 7th February Nnneka and her diverse, international band spend three intense days in Kampala. In a workshop at the National Theater in Kampala they worked together with Keko, Tshila, Ife, Irene and MC Flower. It was a wonderful atmosphere of exchange, inspiration and creativity. At the end of this day a new collaboration song and a powerful version of the song WAR from Bob Marleyemerged – combining the so different styles of all participating musicians into something sui generis!
On the evening of 9th February 2012 the results of the workshop were brought to the big stage in the Garden of the Goethe-Zentrum Kampala. And the atmosphere was truly thrilling. As many described it the term “girl power” was redefined at that evening. MC Flower rocked the house, followed by Ife, Irene, Tshila, Keko and – of course – Nneka, who carried the 1200 spectators off into her own unique world of a soulful and sweeping music that made all those who were present think, feel – and hopefully act.
At midnight people silently left the garden, carrying with them the melodies of an evening which will be remembered for at least the remaining months of this year!
Irene Ntale is an Ugandan singer-songwriter. She went to Kitante Primary School and Kitante High School, there after she went to Kyambogo University. Irene started singing at a very early age of 10 years in Sunday School an later she continued singing in the Church choir. The musician had always been fascinated by guitars, so she started to play some years ago. Irene is also the lead vocalist for The Uneven rock band. Her inspiration for writing her music comes from the fact that she wants to have a positive impact on people’s lives.
Jocelyn Tracy Keko is a Ugandan artist who comes from Tororo. After her Bachelor of Commerce at Makerere University, she decided to be a musician… with success: Her three singles are fast receiving regional approval. Keko’s passion for music and her beautiful charisma let her be one of the most impressive female hip-hop artists of Uganda.
Ife Piankhi has been an educator and trainer for 20 years. Her experience has seen her facilitating youth at festivals (Tribe of Doris, Ancestral Gathering) in schools and youth clubs pan London with organizations such as Learning through the Arts, Toynbee Hall and Insight Arts to name but a few. Ife is passionate about leadership, the environment and health. She is a graduate of the Interaction Leadership Program (British Council) and Eco Villages Training (Findhorn Foundation Scotland).
Born in June 1983 in Kampala, Uganda, Tshila didn’t grow up among musicians, neither was she taught music in school or while growing up. After a bachelors degree in software engineering in the US she used her talent to develop her musical skills. Tshilas acoustic-driven songs have strong traditional music undertones, which she blends beautifully with her hip-hop background.
MC Flower was born in 1998 and surprised the audience as opening act with her fresh attitude.
CNIRBS, this is the name of a Jazzband from Hamburg, composed of the keyboarder and composer Matthäus Winnitzki, the drummer Konrad Ullrich and the euphonist and trumpeter Stephan Meinberg. In collaboration with the Goethe-Institut München, CNIRBS toured with their new album ‘Hey Kollege’ through the African continent for 3 weeks. After shows in Maputo/Mozambique, Antananarivo/Madagascar, Johannesburg/South Africa and Kigali/Rwanda they presented their musical arrangements in Kampala, whereby some songs were fused with the input of the Ugandan musicians Joel Sebunjo and Lawrence Okello. This was followed by performances in Nairobi/Kenya and Addis Ababa/Ethiopia.
A one day workshop with the two Ugandan musicians preceded their show on 15th October 2014 at the National Theatre. The five musicians used the collaboration at the Pearl Rhythm Studio in Mengo to prepare the next day’s joint concert, in which traditional African instruments and the distinctive Jazz sound of CNIRBS were brought together.
Joel Sebunjo is a Ugandan singer and instrumentalist, who plays very successful the local Endongo and Endere, but especially the West African Kora. The young artist is known far beyond national borders and was already on stage with great musicians like Yossou N’dour, Salif Keita and Miriam Makeba. Lawrence Okello is a professional percussionist and multi-instrumentalist. From 1997 till 2012, Okello was part of the famous Ndere Troup, whereupon he became the musical director of Sosolya Ugundu Dance Academy in 2013. He has also performed on large stages and internationally.
Although the musicians didn’t know each other their musical background and skills nourished the common jam session, which led to a fruitful cooperation. The symbiosis of the different music styles resulted in an experimental and unique sound. At the end of the workshop they created four songs being a fusion of their music and which have been put together out of two CNIRBS songs and each one song of Okello and Sebunjo.
In the first half of the concert CNIRBS performed the songs Segou, Murray Bozinski, Pioselinka Dla, Multiple Pain and Palinka Polkapop of their current album. After a short break, Joel Sebunjo and Lawrence Okello joined CNIRBS on stage and they performed the four songs which arose during the workshop. Among others they played the song Kyandi from Lawrence Okello, which has become through the vocals of Okello, the jazz sound of CNIRBS and the Endongo of Sebunjo an experimental composition. The song tells the story of a boy, who can’t marry because of his financial situation. This results in a humorous demand to work hard so that he can marry his love one day.
The song Disco Girl, of the CNIRBS album ‘Hey Kollege’ with the powerful vocals by Joel Sebunjo and the flute by Lawrence Okello became an extraordinary experience which caught the audience in the well-filled auditorium. This was followed by two other songs which demonstrated also the intensive and creative collaboration of the artists and which were rewarded with great applause from the audience.
The workshop and the concert were a big success for the musicians, organizer and the audience. Many thanks goes at this point to the Goethe-Institut in Munich, which made this musical adventure possible.
by Sarah Schmoll
Facilitated by Jonas Hummel, a German sound technician and musician, the GZK/UGCS organized a 10 day workshop leading to the 7th Bayimba international Festival of the Arts. In those 10 days 9 participants from 5 different countries (Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and Germany) met to create new music instruments out of old electronic devices. The electronic scrap consisted of things like old computer keyboards, radios, CD players, sound cards, and a variety of different cables and much more – even an Adungo (a Ugandan traditional harp like instrument) was re-used.
How can those common, but also useless electronic devices be brought back to life, or even transformed into music instruments or – even more – used to compose and rehearse music pieces? And that in only 10 days? With a lot of creativity, devotion, a good mixture of electronic and musical understanding and the right set of tools. And with Jonas Hummel, who is co-founder of the “translokales Rundfunkorchester” (TRFO), an ensemble based in Düsseldorf that works with manipulated radios. He not only came with a big bag full of electronic devices of all kinds, he also initiated the participants into a field that none of them had known before.
After an introduction into the theoretic basics the participants discussed what music actually meant to them. In a mixture of physics lessons, sound examples and a lot of practical crafting the devices brought partially from Germany and partially sourced locally were dissected, inspected and re-connected with different wires and 9 V batteries. Self made speakers and the first sounds were the result. To assure that the sounds remain exact and could be reproduced for music pieces cables and complicated electronic circuits had to be connected to the sound sources. Instead of buying speakers to amplify the instruments on stage they were crafted out of different electronic materials. Connected to the modified radios, CD players and all the other devices those self-made speakers became hybrid instruments.
As diverse as the hybrid instruments were the workshop participants. The different professional backgrounds – musicians, creative designers, DJs, music producers and artists, even electricians and IT-specialists – and the different ideas of music itself and creating music had to be put together.
Next to the live performances during the festival there was a studio recording with the DJs of Santuri Safari, a project that puts DJs and musicians together to create unique tracks in studio.
“Your Radio, your Voice, your Instrument” performed on the Upper Garden Stage of the National Theatre on three evenings during the Bayimba Festival. Next to the musical performance the audience was invited to try out those hybrid instruments themselves.
We would like to take the opportunity to thank the Bayimba Foundation, the German Embassy to Uganda, Santuri Safari and Hivos for their support and collaboration. Without them the project would not have been possible.
And of course we would like to thank the participants: Jonas Hummel, Semeko Kumade, Timothy Nabulwa, Virgil Acheta, Gisa Brian, Ken Mvvalye, Jimmy John Ogwang, Ryan M. Njumwa, Munir Suat and Nicole Schnathmann.
In recent years, the Spoken Word has gained great popularity in Germany – the biggest Poetry Slam of Europe, the Bunkerslam, takes place annually in different German cities. But also in bars, museums and coffee shops of Kampala and other African cities a Spoken Word and Poetry Scene has gradually developed. Until now it has mainly been acting in small groupings and without further public impact.
As a reaction to this situation the Goethe-Institute South Africa initiated ‘The Spoken Word Project’. With the aim of developing a panafrican network and increasing the visibility of this art form the project is currently touring through eight African countries (South Africa, Madagascar, Cameroon, Angola, Uganda, Kenya, Mali and Ivory Coast) organizing a Poetry Slam with ten participants in each place. The winner of a country has the possibility to travel to the next destination and learn more about the local Spoken Word Scene.On Tuesday, the 24th of September 2013, this Poetry Slam took place at the GZK/UGCS.
Roshan Karmali, curator of the project and organizer of the monthly “Poetry in Session”, had selected ten talented Ugandan artists in advance: Natasha Emilly Nakke, Namulondo Rashida, Tinah P’Ochan, Rehema Nanfuka, Maritza, Slam Poet Mark Gordon, Slim Emcee (UG) the Poet, Black Poet, Apio Winnie and Shan.
Already two hours before the event started the garden of GZK/UGCZ was filled with nervous artists searching for a silent corner to practice their texts. Tension was in the air, for many of the poets it was the first big performance on a stage with spotlight and all the trimmings. After the table of the jury was brought in position, the curious audience had taken place and every artist had drawn a lottery number, Roshan Karmali opened the evening with charm and esprit as our MC.
The first performance of the evening was reserved for the winner from Angola, Ermildo Saraiva Panzo. His Portuguese verses presented with passion and ease convinced the English speaking audience from the first sentence on regardless of the language barrier. After this rousing opening it was up to the ten Ugandan artists to take up the challenge of round one of the Poetry Slam. Each of them had five minutes to perform a poem of their own repertoire. The presented texts showed a big variety of content: Love, childhood experiences, Africa, recent political issues,….
But the three-headed jury not only judged the finesse of the content. Acaye Elizabeth Pamela, Peter Kagayi and Beverly Nambozo also took into account the stage presence of the artists, their interaction with the audience and the linguistic presentation of their poems. The loud and quiet, sad and funny, energetic and soft words put the audience in silent, devoted fascination, triggered loud laughter and aroused cheers and enthusiasm at the same time. The atmosphere increased during the evening and couldn’t be tarnished by the short rain shower just before the break.
We were fortunate to also host Kgafela oa Magogodi, patron of the project from South Africa. With his guitar sounds and convincing poetry lyric he made sure that the clouds disappeared again and round two of the evening could be ringed in. In the second round of the evening the artists were supposed to refer to the content of the two poems performed at the previous stage of the Spoken Word Project. The performances passed in no time and at the end of a colorful and eloquent evening the jury was left with the task to choose the best presentation.
With a short gap to Slim Emcee (UG) the Poet (2nd place) and Maritza (3rd place) Rehema Nanfuka was the winner of the Spoken Word Project in Uganda. As such she will continue the journey to Nairobi (Kenya) in October. The many creative texts, the motivated and rain proofed audience and the entertaining moderation of Roshan Karmali let „The Spoken Word Project“ at GZK/UGCS become an unforgettable, impressive evening. We thank the Goethe-Institute South Africa for the Africa wide coordination and organization of the event.
by Friederike Hochstein