THE FUTURE OF FILM IN KENYA

Published on: May 31, 2019

 

Words by AMANDA OWINYA

Kenya has been on the verge of a creative boom over the past few years. This is evidenced by the many accolades the creative industry has been receiving over the past years. When it comes to film, Kenya has been showing a more out-of-the-box approach in terms of their production quality and the stories covered.

Nairobi Half Life is by far one of the most wildly successful films to have been locally produced in Kenya. Aside from being a continental sensation and being highly acclaimed by the many awards it received at some of Africa’s biggest film award shows, it managed to garner international recognition from the Oscar Academy by receiving a nomination in the international film category at the 85th Award show; a first for Kenya.

The film revolves around the many facets that surround survival in Nairobi. The movie brought into context the harsh realities of life in the city by exploring the underground network of criminals in the city by bringing to us their stories and circumstances. The film received much love and appreciation from diverse audiences because the story presented is one that many people could almost seem to relate to, not from a place of having directly been in the same situation as the actors but from the bare truth the film presented. The film found a way to tap into a topic that many would rather ignore and live in constant ignorance and oblivious to the reason behind society but also to help the audiences to look at themselves introspectively and show them the humanity that exists especially in those shunned by society as being evil. The director, David ‘Tosh’ Gitonga managed to find a gap that existed in society and built a bridge so as to allow for both sides of society to truly see each other’s stories.

This way of storytelling showing real people in real situations is a direction that has been a long time coming for the Kenyan film industry. Bringing audiences stories relevant to their demography is something that has definitely been lacking in the Kenyan Film industry for quite some time due to the heavy influence of Western Media. Nairobi Half Life is a film that dared to attempt to fill the void created by the creativity drain in the local industry not only in Kenya but Africa.

As a result of the sudden opening of a long-abandoned creative door in the Kenyan film industry achieved by the film Nairobi Half Life, creators became more courageous in being more diverse in their productions and coming up with out of the box content for their films. The bar of creativity was since raised with more creators choosing to feature topics that were not traditional in the sense of not sticking to a specific route.

Katikati is a film that can be attested to have been a product of the film revolution. For this particular film, the director, Mbithi Masya took a creative direction that is nothing like anything we have had in the Kenyan film industry. It revolves around the concept of souls in limbo. It explores the dynamic of the afterlife the fate of souls. The idea was something very new because it steps out of the norm and focuses on a subject that surrounds us as human beings that is Death but looks at it from a different point of view.

Such creativity in film production inspires not only in the sense of quality production but also in the sense of aesthetic. By exploring a subject that is very different from the norm, it opens discussions about more topics that can be delved into as well as challenges the creative direction of any future films.

Madaraka is a documentary that focuses on the creative industry in Kenya. The project is geared towards showcasing, discovering and developing talent in the fast-growing creative market in Kenya. It looks at industry players and their achievements as well as introspectively looks at the talent that exists in the country. It highlights the difficulties that the creative industry presents and focusses on grooming young talent on their way up.

 

The documentary gives an in-depth view of the creative industry in the country by giving audiences a glimpse of the diversity that Kenya and its youth have to offer. It looks at the Kenyan youth and highlights their concerns and the struggles they face in the Kenyan creative industry. Being a developing nation, Kenya has miles to go in terms of growing its creative space on a legislative level. With this documentary, audiences will be able to truly see the work that goes behind the creation of productions in the country from film to music to art.

The project has the contribution of major Kenyan industry players such as members of one of the top African bands and the pride of Kenya in the music industry. Their passion for Kenya and the creative industry is something that they have been very open about and worked hard towards promoting internationally.

Such productions represent the dawn of a new era in the Kenyan film industry because it marks a turn in the creativity seen in films. It shows a generation of creatives who refuse to accept the norm and playing it safe but rather chose to look for new ways to tell their story.  It captures the spirit of the new Africa that is not afraid of challenging its limits.

These are stories that are finally being told by Africans and for Africans.

 

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Meet Wilson, A Man in Woman’s World

Published on: May 31, 2019

  1. Tell us about yourself?

My name is Wilson, I work at Madora and I am a trained make-up artist and skin care consultant and above all I am a professional beauty advisor. I work with Madora and this is a French brand which came to Kenya and launched here at the beginning of 2016. It deals with make-up, skin care and fragrances. I see Madora as a little bit of France in Kenya.

I am a creative person and I love to write.

  1. People in your field that you admire?

I don’t say that I admire anyone, for me I am inspired by people. I look up to Chanel trainers because of their willingness to impart knowledge and their skills.

Being a man in a woman’s world is an opportunity from God. Sometimes it’s an overwhelming feeling. When I was at college 99% of pupils were women the rest were men with earrings and bangles. This was intimidating and this experience left me confused. I told myself I am going to be different.

Locally I have not found someone who inspires me as I said from the onset I was going to be different, and do things differently. Be my own person.

  1. Tell me about something you’ve created.

As a creative make-up artist, when we were doing Sense 8, I was part of the special effects make-up artists’ tea, and this was a very unique opportunity and cemented me for what I was doing and I knew this was for me. I was in the right place.

  1. How do you keep up with industry trends?

I read a lot of. If you look at my emails right now I receive almost 15 -20 updates on the beauty industry. This is how I keep my dream alive. 99% of what I follow are the make-up brands themselves. My sources for beauty is everywhere. I want beauty to be accessible for all. I’ve also benefitted from trainings from being a part of Madora and this is what has helped me keep up with international beauty trends.

  1. What is the biggest creative challenge you have faced in your career?

I am a very emotional person, and I get hurt easily. I have witnessed a lot of intimidation in this industry, more so being a man. Not everyone believes you can be a good make-up artist being a man.

  1. What are some of the projects you’re working on right now?

I am full time with Madora.

  1. How do you respond to criticism?

No one likes criticism.

I would start to complain, and now I have started to sit and reflect. Especially if its constructive criticism. But first I have to differentiate between a good and bad critic. Some people just want to be negative for the sake of throwing shade at you and try and bring you down.

  1. What makes you unique?

For me, it’s my signature; to be simple. Simplicity is in everything I do. As a make-up artist I am one person who believes in natural make up. I like to keep it natural unless at the client requests differently. I don’t want when you take off your make up you look different person. Being natural is key and this is what makes me a little different from the rest I don’t’ like extremes.

  1. What would you say to youth who want to be in your industry?

This is the right time. If you have the passion and the drive this is the time. The world is coming to Africa, to Kenya now. The cosmetic industry is going to be the largest soon. We need more artists from Kenya to come into the industry. Even if I had children and this was their dream I would encourage them.

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Discover Brian Babu, The man who makes Fashion Icons

Published on: May 31, 2019

 

“What is it that you do?” Brain Babu has heard that question one too many times before. In a society that fails to validate the creative industry as an economic sector, Brian is making his strides as a stylist. Creating identities and bring the glitz and glam to the red carpet, stylist to the stars, he is living his passion. Called the brains behind Sauti Sol’s polished and super stylish looks. Brian describes himself as a free thinker and lover of life. So ow did the financier step into the world of fashion? A favor for his sister, a favor that led his name to being attached to prestigious awards, Kenya Fashion Awards’s Stylist of the Year 2016, Abryanz Style & Fashion Awards 2016 East Africa Stylist of The Year, and nominee of Abrayanz Style and Fashion Awards 2017.

Be Afrika picked Brian Babu as our Mentor this month because of the lesson he teaches about being faithful to your passion. Here is what we asked him, from you the aspiring stylist to Brian Babu our mentor of the month.

How do you spend most of your time?

In between work, I love to travel and be with my family.

What do you wish you knew in your early twenties?

I wish I understood how money works, how to save and how to manage my money.

How can I work smarter?

Any aspiring stylist needs to identify what market works for you. What type of styling, is it personal styling, personality styling or is it styling for television. You need to find your niche and then improve and perfect what you do.

Is this where you thought you would end up?

I had not planned to be a stylist. It is something I had done individually for a while and then I started doing it as a profession when I was in campus. I don’t remember what I would have been before I found my passion in styling. I was school for economics and finance and I probably would have gotten an office job, probably work in a bank or a finance institute.

If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?

I wouldn’t have gone to economics and finance school in the first place. I think I would have gone straight to fashion and design school.

What used to be your biggest weaknesses?

Time. As a creative at times you end up doing things last minute. Or maybe the ideas come up last minute so you are pressed for time to execute what you wanted to do.

What are you most proud of? 

The things I have been able to accomplish in the first four years. And the consistency of my work throughout that period.

 “Am I being crazy?” Have you ever asked yourself that? What was the result?

Of course I did. At some point I quit school my family also thought I had lost my mind, so I thought I was actually crazy. But you know only crazy people dream.

What were your biggest failures?

I know there are projects that I have been able to do but they didn’t take off the way they were supposed to. Probably because I wasn’t keen enough or I hadn’t grown enough as a stylist to be able to handle such big projects. I think of those as failures and I got to learn from them, and I became a better stylist through that. There are project that you’d be given to handle and then you think you have the capacity to do that project but you actually don’t.

A piece of advice.

GO HARD OR GO HOME! You can’t be half assing things, taking issues with a pinch of salt. You just have to do the most when you want to do something. Go completely out of your way to do your best.

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THE MWELU FOUNDATION

Published on: May 30, 2019

The Mwelu Foundation is a registered Trust founded in 2007. We are working with a group of approximately 80 ambitious, positive and talented young people to help them realize their potential through photography, film production and the building of life skills. The young members are fitted in two different programs. One is for the children up to 17 years old and the other is for the young adults up to 25 years old.

The Mwelu Foundation was founded by born-and-raised Mathare resident Julius Mwelu. Julius continues to run the organization as a member of the board. With help from local people who are determined to make a positive change within their own community the foundation wants to achieve the goal of a better future and building up the local youth for a bright future.

Our Vision

Our vision is of a peaceful world in which all children realize their full potential in societies that provide hope, opportunity and respect.

Our Mission

Our mission is to nurture the talent of children in the poorest communities of Nairobi by providing training in creative arts and essential life skills. By providing children with a voice and promoting education we hope to break the cycle of poverty and violence that exists in our communities

The images attached show the activities running at the foundation, the school outreach program that reaches to kids in primary schools and teaching them basic Photography and Filming as they finish their primary level of education in the kenyan system. and as well some of their work that is printed and mounted and then an exhibition is done to show such Potential in the young creatives.

Our Projects are;

Photography

Filming and

Creative

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Life As A Nomad; Alick Chingapi’s Backpacking Journey Across Africa

Published on: May 30, 2019

 

What did I find in Africa ?

“There is no definitive answer, I experienced a lot but one emotion that resonates is thankfulness / gratitude. I found humanity, ‘ubuntu’, people’s kindness when meeting a stranger. I found the African hustle, the entrepreneurial spirit on the streets of Kampala, Aswan and Nairobi. People pushing by all means necessary to make it happen.
One of the most important lessons I learnt, is that you will find what you are looking for when you are traveling. It might not be in the way , shape or form that you expect it, but it was deeply satisfying to be on this trip.” ~Alick Chingapi

 

Get to Know our Nomad:

Where are you from?

I was born in Zimbabwe to Malawian parents, so I identify as both.

Where have you been?

Egypt, Ghana, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia and Democratic Republic of Congo.

What’s been your favorite place?

I will be biased towards Kenya cause of the vibrancy and having friends who are as good as family. However, Uganda struck a chord with me. The streets of Kampala, the markets, the helpfulness of the people all resonated with me. I enjoyed my time on one of the islands on Lake Bunyonyi in the South of Uganda, it was serenely peaceful.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

I found myself heading to a refugee camp in Rwanda. I intended to volunteer only to get a rude awakening when I arrived at the camp, when the authorities told me that I needed clearance to be able to volunteer. I don’t know why I had thought I would be able to arrive at a refugee camp and help out. It was an intense couple of hours with my passport circulating different hands, bag searched thoroughly, every photo in my camera examined. I realized the gravity of my situation as I was being questioned by a third individual and it sounded like I was a spy.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Don’t really have, I have eaten a lot of food that in some people’s cultures are crazy. I eat amacimbi (mopane worms), mbeva (a form of field mouse) and some people think that it is crazy.

How long had you been traveling for on your last trip?

I traveled for nearly 5 months before I returned home

How much longer will you be traveling for?

I intend to get back to traveling soon across West Africa once I have my planned out my next trip and hopefully attained sponsorships.

What were you doing before you left on your last trip?

I used to work at a consulting firm as a lead consultant, managing teams on projects in client environments.

Did you ever miss home?

Initially, I missed the familiarity of home comforts such as my bed but after a while, it is a memory of something I can look forward to and appreciate a bit more

We all want to travel around the world, but few of us are brave enough to do. In his book, Through A Black Iris, Alick Chingapi brings us along his journey across Africa. Get your copy here!

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Q&A WITH MUMBI

Published on: May 30, 2019

USA-based Kenyan songstress, Mumbi, is back to Kenya and launched her debut EP “For The Culture” – 30th of April 2018 from East Africa, in a worldwide release. Known for her diverse sound that blends afro-house, soul, R&B and hip hop, Mumbi is set for her biggest career move that has now birthed the 5– track EP featuring the singles: “Yours”, “Intro”, “Soweto”, “Good Enough” and “Too Much”.

Speaking to her Kenyan fans, Mumbi says: “At this point my fans and I are technically dating. My music is my diary. So if you love my music we’re pretty much together. Can’t wait to see you all!” Speaking on “For The Culture” EP and her return to Kenya, Mumbi says: “I chose to launch the EP in Kenya because everything begins at home. Kenya is my home and what better way to launch something than at home first. I wrote most of the songs on the EP at a time in my life where I had taken some time off to regroup,” hinting on her future plans: “I plan on moving back to home and definitely working on a new album from Kenya.”

Watch Senses on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyTe65L8smc

Even before the EP was ready for release, Mumbi was concurrently working on her debut album, which is expected to be ready by September 2018. While in Kenya, she intends to collaborate with top Kenyan acts including Khaligraph Jones, Steph Kapela, Xtatic and Camp Mulla. Her passion is to continue raising her profile and that of Kenya. She says, “As a brand, I will continue to represent Kenya on a bigger platform. I would like to introduce the world to all the amazing talent we have in Kenya because we are really underrated. I am happy to strongly represent of our beautiful country, musically speaking.”

 

  1. People in your field that you admire? Lauryn hill Miriam makeba

Beyoncé Rihanna

  1. How do you incorporate creativity in your free time?

I usually just listen to a lot of different types of music to keep my mind fresh when it comes to creativity

  1. What is your perspective on the music industry?

Right now is the best time in the music industry in Kenya because we are on the peak of change

  1. Do you think there are enough youth opportunities?

No but all it does is make us grind harder

  1. What is your creative process like when you are working?

I usually write a song beforehand create a bass line then go to the producer with it and we build around that

  1. Tell me about something you’ve created.

My whole ep 😊

  1. How do you keep up with industry trends?

I don’t. I just choose to be me that way there’s no pressure. It can be challenging for a young Kenyan to balance local identity with international influence. How do you think we can best keep and promote the Kenyan brand?

  1. How did your family react to your career choice?

At first it was hard but now it’s gotten a lot better

  1. Tell us about your new Music?

Each song on my FOR THE CULTURE Ep is my favorite song. Expect the unexpected and lots of amazing vibes.

  1. Which track best represents you?

Definitely Good Enough

  1. What’s next for you?

My album!!

  1. Any advice for the youth?

Be you. That is your power. Also, don’t be afraid of the struggle

it’s only for a season. Put In work and you WILL succeed

FOR MORE:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/OfficialMumbi

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Official.Mumbi/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mumbi_music/

 

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TRENDS FOR THE GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Published on: May 29, 2019

The Creative Blog, took stock of the current graphic design trends by asking some of the leading designers and studio head to identify the biggest movements of 201 and what they think will be in trend this year.

  1. The ‘Little Big Idea’

2017 design theme was big impact with simple ideas, executed with intelligence and insight to create real, radical impact. It’s predicted that in 2018, elegant logic will be the only way to cut through, if it is as chaotic, channel-hopping and crazy as 2017 was.

  1. Braver Colours

2017 can be categorised as a year of colour, with graphic designers making big and bold choices. In an effort to inspire positivity, there has been an influx of bright colours, often with flat graphics and only one or two colours used at any one time. This trend is predicted to hold strong this year, as bright colours help content to stand out from the meme-filled social media.

  1. Hyper brand distillation

Throughout 2017, design has been getting simpler and yet richer. In a world where user experience is king, complex brand systems get in the way of the content. Function overrides superfluous design details, and every brand asset needs to earn its place. So brands are striving to streamline their core assets, but looking to pack more meaning and distinctiveness into each element. This often starts with the name.

  1. Flat Graphics in Packaging

Packaging design has made a move towards simplicity in 2017. Simplicity through the use of flat graphics can be seen across all packaging categories. This does not necessarily mean minimalism but instead a stripping back of layers, detailing, text and tone to hone in on the core information and graphics. These are then treated in a simple, deconstructed manner. Featuring just the core information and intriguing illustrations, the contrast of its simplicity with the complexity of its competitors’ designs has ensured both distinctiveness and standout.

  1. 3D Modelling in Typography

3D modelling is the new frontier of graphic design. This has especially been seen in type design, but also in pattern generation. A potential future trend, One-colour 3D design is growing in popularity. There has been more and more product marketing that uses the same bold background colour as the featured product itself: the product leaps off the screen thanks to the volume created by the 3D techniques.

  1. Hand-drawn Elements Continue

Hand-drawn images have been particularly big in 2017, and the rise of black and white lettering is not surprising. The personal touch that they provide to branding and marketing is undeniable. In a world ever-more dominated by screens, there is just something appealing about the hand-drawn that resonates with many. There is a movement away from the very technical and a return to an artisan approach, which is seen across everything. There has also been a move away from polished photography to more gritty, real-world photographs. This may all stems from the Millennial generation looking for design that has a bit more integrity, and the manifestation of physical art in graphic design has really struck a chord.

http://www.sanjaywebdesigner.com

 

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THE GODOWN ART CENTER

Published on: May 29, 2019

The GoDown grew out of a need articulated by a wide range of artists in the late 1990’s for provide a space holding the vested interests of Kenyan and East African artists in a cross section of disciplines. Notwithstanding the energy behind this exciting new initiative, the search for space lasted nearly three years as potential spaces were identified, reviewed and pursued without closure.

However, determination culminated in the identification and later development of the current physical site, which combines inexpensive, wide-open spaces, in an accessible and appropriate location with basic facilities for performances, studios, rehearsals and exhibitions. The GoDown Arts Centre, the first of its kind in East Africa, is a not-for-profit entity that now has a number of residential visual and performing artists groups, all occupying a common space.

It serves as a place where creative ideas can be generated, mingled and cross-referenced. The GoDown Arts Centre promotes professional development through training workshops that are held throughout the year, while creating an environment for innovation and collaboration between artists. The present space occupied by the GoDown is a renovated 10,000 sq meters warehouse with studios, rehearsal and performance spaces. The GoDown also has an exhibition gallery where exhibitions can be shown, and meetings or performances held.

The Centre provides the first Kenyan multi-disciplinary space for arts and host organizations representing a variety of art-form and also residence programs. The Godown Art Centre brings artists and audiences together in ways that refresh, challenge and inspire. It is fast becoming a focal point in East Africa for innovation, creativity and performance. Since the Go Down’s inception, it has initiated and hosted many exciting art residencies, workshops, performances, exhibitions and discussion forums.

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DISCOVER MUSIC WITH AISHA POPAT

Published on: May 29, 2019

I am a singer/songwriter and YouTuber born and raised here in Kenya. I am an absolute travel and food enthusiast and an incredibly family orientated individual. I will try everything once and love a challenge. Anyone who knows me well will tell you that my big loves in this world are; family, friends (building relationships) music, dancing, travel, cheese and wine! I love the outdoors and especially enjoy pushing myself out of my comfort zone to see what I can achieve…in a nutshell

  1. People in your field that you admire?

Locally the musicians I admire are Tetu Shani, Yellow Light Machine and Sauti Sol.  I love Tetu especially because to me he isn’t just a great singer and musician but a storyteller. It is incredibly hard to write good songs and take people on a journey through lyrics and performance, but he does this effortlessly.

  1. What is your perspective on the creative industry?

The creative industry has grown leaps and bounds in the last few years. Away with the traditional and conservative ways of doing things and onto exploration and innovation.

  1. Do you think the government supports the creative industry?

I don’t think the government supports creativity the way they should. If they could only realize the creative potential we have in this Country, creativity and especially the music industry would be a higher priority. Our youth are bursting with talent and ideas and unfortunately we don’t have enough resources to nurture and give them enough air to breathe life into these opportunities. They need the knowledge and guidance, companies to organize platforms for learning and experimentation.

  1. What is your creative process like when you are working?

My creative process when trying to write a song actually starts where most good music starts… in the shower. Somehow it is where most melodies or ideas of lyrics begin. I’ll come up with something, jump out to record it on my phone and then I’ll sit down and try write something from those beginning ideas. Once the lyrics are down then I try matching it up with a feel and a melody. Strangely though my mind works more visually than anything else. The idea sets in motion visuals and I’ll see an idea of a story and video and then write lyrics and a melody to match it.

 5.It can be challenging for a young Kenyan to balance local identity with international influence. How do you think we can best keep and promote the Kenyan brand?

I feel we need an entire article to go through this subject. The challenges of being an artist are similar across the international board. Artists struggle financially because not a big enough importance is put on what we do. Unless you are one of the biggest performing artists in your Country, you don’t make enough from live performances and you definitely can’t make enough through downloads and now everybody streams so you need to keep up with the trends and keep up the marketing to make a decent living. Secondly we don’t have enough platforms here in Kenya to educate artists on copyright laws, distribution services and how to make your music a business. Thirdly I feel we don’t support each other enough and our media doesn’t support their artists enough. We should be predominantly playing out local artists’ music as they do in Nigeria. As well as give younger upcoming artists a leg up at any opportunity. This is the only way we can build the industry and show the world what we have got.

I have battled with this myself. Having an ‘international’ sound but trying to ‘bring it home’ and package it for the local market isn’t easy.  It’s difficult to form our own identity when most of the music we have grown up with and listening to through our media airwaves has an international influence. Mostly from the US or Nigeria. I definitely feel that we have a distinct style here in Kenya and the best way to promote it is to keep churning it out, to merge our sounds with international influences and push hard to get exposure internationally. We need to create a Kenyan identity through music.

  1. What are the benefits of collaborating?

As you may know, I am BIG on collaborations and there are business and personal reasons why I choose to collaborate so much. Firstly, we are always progressing and can always learn more. With every new artist you work with you learn more about particular genres, industry trends and tricks of the trade in different countries. A bounty of new knowledge awaits you.

  1. Any advice to youth interested in the industry?

From a business perspective, lets parallel collaboration to the idea of ‘twitter’. With each new collaboration you are increasing your spider web of networks and fan base. You get in front of different audiences and you never know how far your collaborator will go in the industry. It is also incredibly humbling and challenging as you see how incredible other artist are and so you strive to be better in your field yourself.

 

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ART IN UGANDA

Published on: May 28, 2019

 

Art Gallery

Umoja Art Gallery is one of the major art hubs in Uganda. The main objective of this gallery is to enable national and international visitors to revive Uganda’s cultural heritage and to become enamored with multi-centralism, so as to stimulate potential in the artists living in Uganda, to encourage the exchange of artists work through exhibitions and finally to foster the development of art in Uganda.

Music

Uganda has a vibrant music industry that plays a fundamental role in the social and economic lives of many. Uganda, is now ranked number three in Africa as far as music and entertainment is concerned. Uganda is home to over 65 different ethnic groups and tribes, and they form the basis of all indigenous music. The Baganda, being the most prominent tribe in the country, have dominated the culture and music of Uganda over the last two centuries. The first form of popular music to arise out of traditional