Tag Archives: Qwela

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

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Giving Back

Projects that Inspire

This week I’d like to focus on a project that you will find on my side bar for the next 30 days or so.  Ever since becoming involved with PDMI Publishing I have met some of the most interesting, energetic and creative people I have ever known.  Last year PDMI Publishing produced a book of poetry written by students in Kampala, Uganda.  I reviewed the work here.   That was only the beginning.

This year a number of us decided we would do something a bit more, well, a lot more extravagant.  This year we are printing a whole new volume and reprinting the first volume.  We are also putting together a DVD of the students reading their poetry along with some footage from the school.  The whole thing will be backed with the truly talented Qwela band, also of Kampala.

Qwela has an amazing sound of a “unique Afro-fusion flavor of music.”  Qwela means ‘pure’ in Rukiga.  Their lyrics speak of family, current events, a love of their tradition.  The pieces selected for the DVD include Mwana Wanji, Okello, and Mama tokaaba.  Okello is the story of a child kidnapped by the rebel armies after his village is burned to the ground.  After being trained as a child warrior, the memory of his mother still calls him to his childhood dreams.  He runs away from his abductors to find the life he really wanted.  Mama tokaaba is a beautiful song sung almost entirely in African dialect.  It is about family, reassurance, and the promise that “everything’s gonna be alright.”  Mwana Wanji, which is also on the trailer, means My Child.   The words of the song are quite powerful in the context of the country today.

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

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

I’d like to note that the link I provided for Qwela states that 50% of all sales go to World Vision.  These people are serious about building a different future.

That brings me to these enterprising young people.  Their volunteer teacher, Philip Matogo teaches them social sciences, English and journalism.  The poetry produced in this classroom indicates that these children are well aware of the Geo-political and local socioeconomic and political circumstances they live in.

It is our hope that this little project can give these students a very real way to impact their world, their education and their future.  Come check it all out and help us meet a rather modest fundraising goal.

2013 – Songs of Kiguli

 

1 Comment

Filed under Giving Back

The Songs of Kiguli Return

The countdown begins. In one week, August 3, 2013, we will launch a fundraiser to help us publish and market The Songs of Kiguli – 2013. We will also be reissuing the first volume and adding a DVD. This DVD will be something special as it includes footage from the school and of the students reading their poetry. As a special treat, the DVD will include three pieces for Qwela, a jazz and traditional band from Kampala, Uganda. The campaign will be hosted on Indiegogo – stay tuned for the link. And just to tease you? Here is the trailer.

This will be the second year PDMI Publishing has produced a book of poetry written by the students of the Ugandan Kiguli Army School under the direction of their volunteer teacher, Philip Matogo. Last year we sent each student a copy and spread the word through newspapers and Amazon. This year we are organizing a much larger effort. We are adding a DVD with footage of the students reading their poetry backed by the Kampala band, Qwela. We are also developing a marketing campaign to turn their hard work into dollars for their school. Help fund the future by supporting these talented young people.

By going to the public (including our friends and acquaintances) for funding, we will be able to expand the marketing reach of both last year’s and this year’s publication. We will also be sending extra copies to the school so they can add them to their new library and to sell them locally to raise funds for other needed books. We have developed personal relationships with the teacher and his charges and we want to accomplish something financially effective for them. We also want to support the students that work so hard to pour out their hearts and give voice to their lives. We’d love to have you on board!

The school has a number of items on their wish list and proceeds from the sale of these publications could help in a very real way. They need reliable transportation, renovation of current buildings and additional class rooms. Sales of the books and DVDs will help them reach these goals and does so in a way that involves the students themselves.

You can help by spreading the word of this fund raiser, the books, and the DVDs. You can also help by contacting Africa heritage museums, cultural centers and art centers to see if they would be willing to stock the books in their gift shops.

1 Comment

Filed under Giving Back