Are you a traditional music lover and you want to have a real taste of it?
Well Mizizi Sounds of the Nile Festival is here to serve the purpose.
The festival is no ordinary event due to its unique vision of professionalizing and popularizing Uganda’s impressive cultural heritage in the world.
Organised by Mizizi Essemble, the second edition of the festival will run from November, 22-24 2019 at Mizizi Cultural Hub in Katurikire, Kiryandongo District.
The first edition took place in 2018 at the same venue.
The biggest three day cultural music event in Africa will feature top African musicians such as Habib Koite [Mali], Cheick Tidiane Seck [Mali], Cindy Sanyu, Lucky Dee, Odong Romeo, Cissy Gal, Namatovu Cissy among others.
Sam Okello-Kelo, the founder of Mizizi Essemble, also one of the festival organisers reveals that the he realized that there was a need to develop and redefine the East African music specifically the Ugandan cultural music so that it can compete favourably on the international market thus coming up with the festival.
Mr Okello also says on several occasions’ people always thought that Africa music was West African, a narrative he wanted to change.
“When I was at the University I was at the same time working with Ndere Troupe and here we always had discussions about popularizing the Ugandan art. Then we went to the Netherlands, while there, we performed on a number of festivals but for the first time the Dutch People realised that East African Music has more to offer than West Africa’s because in West Africa you hear sound from limited instruments but us here we have a wide selection [diverse] of instruments like nanga, adungu, several types of xylophones among others and so it was like a shock to them,” he says.
“So I started picking interest in making research into West Africa to the extent of travelling to the region to see what they do differently that makes their music popular so when I came back I realized that along River Nile, you can play thousands of musical instruments, and genres of musical sounds of Uganda so I decided then that we focus on developing the sounds around these great waters of the Nile because the water had an element of food, hunting , existence of people’s culture, it had a storage of system and everything. So a lot of our people whether the cattle keepers, the farmers or the hunters had their livelihood around this river and it kind touches everybody so that is why we said it should be called ‘Sounds of the Nile’.”
The popular performing artiste further states that he wants Ugandans to sing and phase out the perception among people that traditional music means primitive music because the judgment of locking Africans up.
“That is why we decide to redefine African traditional music. Traditional music is everywhere rock, pop, afro-pop are all traditional music. So we are creating a new resistance that you cannot say that all African music is traditional music because that is a way to say that you cannot grow. We have to reject that.”
“So we must have quality recordings of our music that is why we have people international mentors like Tidiane Seck who are more experienced to arrange our music we have here in Uganda remember with the digital era there are no more borders in the world no matter what you do, so how do we partake this market? We can only reach it once we obtain a certain standard that everybody can praise.”
On the other hand, mentees such as Busoga Sounds Xylophone Group, Mzee Ekuka, Mizizi Adungu Group, Mubako Local Group will just to mention but a few will also show what they have at the event.
“We train you for three years and we mentor artistes who are already talented. So to give a talented person three years means you can come out with something concrete,” Mr. Okello who is also a social entrepreneur discloses.
The festival will also be graced by popular DJs who will mix Uganda’s popular music with the cultural music which in return will be played in clubs around the country.
We should start dancing to what is ours and once the DJs appreciate it, we know it can go a long way. The music we have as Ugandans is enough for us to develop. We don’t have to sing like Nigerians or Jamaicans. Let us sing like Ugandans it will be okay. The philosophy behind Mizizi sounds is that ‘yes we can’, we have enough.
“Let us sell the best of our country. We don’t have to cry to get aid from donors to dig dams for our needy people.We should instead sell our music, get money and do the needful,” Mr Okello urges.
Choice of venue:
Mr Okello says they chose Kiryandongo because it is the navel of Uganda.
“We opted for Kiryandongo so that Ugandans can congregate at their centre and appreciate the country that they have as well as to build bridges with the world that is why we are bringing in international artistes.”
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