by Haruna Walusimbi, Director
Nile Beat Artists
from Jumbie Journal, April 2006
I must say thank you very much Jumbie Records for your noble cause of supporting one of Uganda's threatened treasures- Uganda's indigenous music, particularly the Embaire (xylophone) music. Special thanks to Mark Stone, known in Uganda as "Kakaire", who fell in love with Uganda's Indigenous music, especially the Embaire, and has continued to be our strongest ambassador. "Webale nyo Kakaire!" (Thanks very much Mark!)
The xylophone section in our festival was one of the most exciting and it captured a lot of peoples' attention. The 21-slab instrument is very unique, the players are so gifted, and the dancers are extraordinary. By the end of the festival, the xylophone had become the talk of everyone and most importantly our local sponsors, Uganda Breweries Limited. There were four very strong xylophone groups in the festival but three got eliminated at the district and regional levels leaving only one, the Muwewesi Xylophone Group from Iganga District, to represent them all at the national level.
The Muwewesi Xylophone Group was one of eight music ensembles from all the regions of Uganda to go to the National music competition and there they emerged as the overall winner. It's rare in our local music competitions for other groups to accept defeat, but at the end of the festival the other seven groups came and shook hands with the xylophone group leader. "You were too strong for us, how do you do it?" asked the group leader from the Northern region. They had a party together because all the groups stayed for that night. "When I saw your dance, I knew we were finished, actually all of us started competing only for the second position." said the leader of the group from the West Nile Region.
The winners— Muwewesi xylophone Group— walked away with 6 million Uganda Shillings (approx. $3500) and a huge trophy that they will defend this year.
We are very grateful to Jumbie Records who extended their helping hand to the xylophone groups. Costumes and the quality of instruments are very crucial to these groups. However, because of Jumbie Records' support, this is one of the areas where the Muwewesi Xylophone Group scored highly at the national competition. They used Jumbie Records' donation to buy very good costumes including bikoyis, kanzus and dancing skins.
We are already planning the festival for 2006. This year's festival is going to be much bigger because it will involve 800 groups across the country compared to these past years, which had 320 groups. This year's competitions will start on June 2nd at the county levels and the finals will take place on December 9th.
Thank you very much Jumbie Records for your timely support and we look forward to working with you in this exciting field of indigenous music.
Director, Nile Beat Artists
(organizers of the Senator National Cultural Festival)
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