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Exploring the popular Music Genres of Uganda with Emmanuel Katto (Local Ugandan Journalist)

The music industry of Uganda is quite vibrant, diverse and colorful and it also plays a significant role in the social and economic lives of people. I'm Emmanuel Katto a Uganda based local journalist. My day to day work includes the collection of news and headlines about Uganda and Africa as a whole. I keep track of all the bulletins, headlines, and latest happening in Africa. Today, I will tell you some of the interesting things regarding the popular music genres of Uganda.

By Emmanuel KattoPublished 8 months ago 3 min read

Uganda comprises more than 30 different ethnicities and tribes, and these tribes are the foundation of all the country's original music. For the past 200 years, the Baganda tribe has been the main driving force behind the country's culture and music. But all the other tribes have their own unique styles of music that have been passed down from one generation to the next since the 1800s. This diversity has led to a great mix of music and culture. In my (Emmanuel Katto) view, music is an essential element of a country’s culture which the citizens are proud of. Below are the popular music genres of Uganda.

The Popular Music Genres of Uganda

Kadongo Kamu- A very popular Ugandan music genre is Kadongo kamu. It is recognizable by its dense storytelling lyrics in the Luganda language. The name itself means 'one guitar', with its prefix 'ka' meaning 'one little guitar' or 'single (lone) guitar'. The bass guitar is the primary instrument used in the creation of this kind of music. The cultural loyalists in the Buganda region enjoy this kind of music a lot. The style of music of this genre always surrounds you with the audience, as the music is quite melodious, engaging, and appealing.

Kidandali- The Kidandali music genre is one of Uganda's most popular genres of music, having its origins in the independence of the country in 1962. Drawing upon the influences of Soukous, as well as Congolese musicians such as Franco, Kidandali has evolved over the years. One of the most prominent groups of the genre is the Cranes Band (which later spawned the Afrigo band), who is credited as the first band to release their self-titled album in 1994. Kidandali has been a major influence on the music industry in Uganda from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, and other bands such as the Rwenzori band, Big Five band, and Simaba Ngoma Band have also contributed to the genre's development.

Dancehall- Jamaican Dancehall is one of the main influences on dancehall music in Uganda. It was first released in the early 90s and influenced many of the country’s most influential dancehall artists such as Shabba ranks, Buju banton, shanks vivi d, ragga dee, menton krono, and rasta rob. Shabba ranks’ signature beat, the Dem bow, laid the foundations for all of Uganda’s dancehall musicians. The development of dancehall in Jamaica began with DJ’s such as vvbz kartel and busy signal. The new generation of dancehall artists in Uganda are Rabadaba, Sizza, Fidempa.

Hip-Hop- Hip-hop culture has widely impacted Ugandan youth, influenced by American hip-hop and American fashion. Initially challenging to accept, artists like Navio and Babaluku continued to adapt the genre. The popularity of hip-hop in Uganda increased in 2008 with the release of GNL Zamba. The term 'Lugaflow' refers to the music's ability to flow and be entertaining in languages other than English. Influential artists include Keko and Navio, who often perform alongside The Myth.

Gospel- Gospel music has been around for a while, but it's only recently that it's become quite popular in Uganda. It started as praise and worship towards God and music played in churches and bands, but since the 90s, some of the most famous gospel artists have become national stars. Judith Babirye, Wilson Bugembe, and Exodus are some of the most well-known groups that play gospel music outside of the church. Meanwhile, hip-hop is still popular in Uganda.

R&B- The last musical genre in Uganda is R&B, which is also relatively popular, and is composed of artists such as Irinya Namubiru (a.k.a. "Irinya"), Julianna Kanyaomozi ("Julianna") and Naava Grey ("Naava Grey", "Maurice Kirya"), whose music is resonated with the population of Uganda in both the Swahili language and the English language, and which has produced some well-known songs, such as "Naboikowa" and "Nkwagula Kufa".


About the Creator

Emmanuel Katto

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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