Qwela ~ The Rhythm of Uganda

Here we go with another article in my series about the 2013 Songs of Kiguli project.

The 2013 edition of Songs of Kiguli will be released by PDMI Publishing early this fall. There will also be a DVD with footage of the school and of the students reading their own poetry.  In addition, Qwela has graciously agreed to support the project with their music.  Qwela is a band from Kampala, Uganda with a “unique afro-fusion flavor of music.”  Qwela means pure in rukiga, which is one of Uganda’s ethnic languages.

Although influenced by western culture, members of the band were raised in traditional African families.  Their work is original and it fuses the traditions of their culture with western styles such a jazz and reggae. The mix is their own special interpretation of Uganda and its people.

Qwela small

Qwela formed in 2007 and started their career by producing their own versions of popular contemporary music.  As they grew in their art, so did their repertoire.  Now they produce their own music and are a featured act with a following.  In addition to the influence of jazz and reggae, the band draws on inspiration from rumba, blues, gospel and afro-soul rhythms and sounds.  The band’s music blends African rhythms and melodies with socially conscious lyrics that support and illuminate stories with a message.

Qwela’s mission is to help bring about positive change in the hearts of those living in Uganda and those around the world.  When you visit their page on Reverbnation you should note that 50% of the proceeds from their music go to World Vision.  For these reasons, and many others, they made a perfect match for the Songs of Kiguli project.  Their music speaks directly to the lives, dreams, hopes, and needs of the children in the Kiguli Army School.  They express the heart of the project in song.  Selected music, lyrics and videos can be found on Reverbnation, Qwela.

The trailer for the 2013 Songs of Kijuli uses a clip from Mwana Wangye, “My Child,” the DVD will contain the cut in its entirety:

They say that we can’t make it
but they don’t know who we are
they say that we can’t do it
but they don’t know where we’re from

Iwe mwana wanje we
iwe mwana wanje
Iwe mwana wanje

When I was young my daddy taught me
he said son, here’s the secret to success in life
he said find that thing which you can do best
and just give it your very best shot

Qwela and The Songs of Kiguli are doing just that.

Another piece that will be on the DVD is the story of Okello, a child kidnapped from a burning village to become a warrior in war that is not his.  The tale and the music are haunting.

His little feet are burning
On the hot desert soil
barely hours since the village burnt down
and now he’s taken prisoner
this little dreamer village boy
dreamt of being a football star
now marched by army rebels
to fight a war that is not his

Okello Okello
Imitu bedingo
Okello Okello

Forced into brutality
He was a child no more
He learnt to kill
learnt how to fight
learnt how to survive
but deep in his heart remains
the dream that would not die
and every day he went to sleep at night
he could hear the voices in his mind
they’re saying

First chance to be free
should I run or should I stay
but his little feet start running
cuz he can hear his mama say

“Ati na ba
wi pe wiliba
Akaniyo diluni
dwong pachuba

Okello Okello
Running through the night
Okello Okello
Oh he ran with all his might
Okello Okello
running for his life
Okello Okello
and now he’s free
Okello Okello
free to run
Okello Okello
free to live
Okello Okello
to live his dream

The last piece is a beautiful song written in the native tongue. The video shows a family day of being together, enjoying the outdoors, a picnic, just being family.  The chorus soothes with the sounds of a lullaby,

Don’t you cry, Mama tokaaba saying, everything is gonna be alright, it’s gonna be alright, it’s gonna be okay.

For the DVD , PDMI Publishing will wrap these beautiful pieces around the vision of primary school students who are doing their best to change their lives, their community, and someday their country.  Won’t you help us?  Donations can be as low as $1.00 and all of the perks carry the theme of Africa and education. Learn more about the power of poetry at the links below:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/2013-edition-of-songs-of-kiguli

https://www.facebook.com/SongsofKiguli

https://www.facebook.com/events/338374329634484/

https://www.facebook.com/PDMIPublishing

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1 Comment

Filed under Giving Back

One response to “Qwela ~ The Rhythm of Uganda

  1. Reblogged this on Lenora's Culture Center and Foray into History and commented:
    This is an awesome project that could use everyone’s help.

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