MBALE – For some of us who lived in the 1980s, we know how long Congolese and South African music dominated Ugandan airwaves.
It took real balls, guts and gnashing of the teeth to elevate Ugandan music and musicians to where they are today. The likes of Philly Lutaaya sacrificed their youthful time and resources to place their mark on the music scene where others had failed.
For many years past and many years to come, Christmas is nothing without listening to Philly Lutaaya “Katujaguze” among others. It is therefore an insult to Philly, his family and Ugandans for a one Eddy Kenzo to say what he said against a legendary. Pride always goes before a fall.
In a March 1966 interview, a one John Lennon of the Beatles music group uttered something that slowly but surely destroyed their image for life.
Lennon claimed that the public were more infatuated with his band than with Jesus and the Christian faith. Initially, the remarks were taken lightly until when the story was republished in one of the newspapers in the United States. Thus, a silly comment such as the one Kenzo made can destroy a whole label.
Lennon’s comments incited protests and threats to the extent that some radio stations stopped playing Beatles songs, records were publicly burned, and press conferences were cancelled. The controversy coincided with the band’s 1966 American tour and overshadowed press coverage of their newest album called revolver. Lennon apologized repeatedly at a series of press conferences and explained that he was not comparing himself or the band to Christ.
The controversy exacerbated the band’s unhappiness with touring, which they never undertook again before their break-up in 1970; Lennon also refrained from touring in his solo career. Some Christian critics also found Lennon’s 1971 song “images” offensive. In 1980, Lennon was murdered by Mark David Chapman, a Christian-raised fan of the Beatles who had been alienated by Lennon’s quote and lyrics from “Imagine”.
Personally, I had heard of the name Eddy Kenzo but did not know who he was. I had no idea he was in the music industry until last weekend when I watched the video in which he was belittling Philly Lutaaya and his legendary song’s “Born in Africa” Out of curiosity, I took to Google and managed to listen to ten of Kenzo’s songs. A new week had began but am still trying to identify any song of his to compare to Philly’s worst song. This Kenzo man has also insinuated that he did Philly Lutaaya a favour to re-do his song to give it mileage. Kenzo believes numbers don’t lie and since he has more views to his songs, he is more popular than Philly Lutaaya.
Shame on you Kenzo, getting a few awards which did not exist in the 1980s is not a basis to compare yourself to a legendary who gave a human face to Ugandan music. Your comparison is out of order and certainly out of range. A statue or a mirage of a dead Philly Bongole Lutaaya planted somewhere would attract more attention than you who is still alive. Looking at you in front of Lutaaya is like looking at a dog barking at an elephant. You may have no option but to visit Philly Lutaaya’s grave to apologize lest your days in the music industry are numbered.
To rely on social media views to determine your fame is obviously a wrong yard stick. Some people don’t view your music because they like it; others go there to laugh at the quality of the audio while others go there to watch the scenes or the dances in the videos. That does not necessarily make one famous or popular. Philly Lutaaya lived in a different generation where there was no internet or social media. If you resurrected the late Philly Lutaya, gave him the platforms that this generation has enjoyed, no one will compete with him or even come half way the name and quality of music that he created.
Somebody needs to remind the jokers of this generation that Philly Lutaaya was born in 1951 and died on December, 15, 1989. Eddy Kenzo was only born on the 25th December, 1989 about ten days after the death of Philly. In other words, this boy is trying to insult and or compete with a man who lived and died before he-Kenzo’s birth. Be that as it may, Philly Lutaaya’s music shoes were and are still too big to fit any one in this generation; not even Chameleon, Bebe Cool, Ragga Dee and Bobi Wine can dare launch an attack on their predecessor in the industry.
To educate Kenzo, there is a clear difference between a star and a celebrity. A Star is born; a Celebrity is made or created. Philly Lutaya was two in one. Eddy Kenzo is just a social media celebrity who rose to fame because of employing the services of unique dancers and producing nature friendly videos. During the 1980s, the awards that are making Kenzo proud did not exist and if they did, they were not reserved for Africans like Philly Lutaaya.
I personally had no idea somebody had given permission to another to reproduce Philly Lutaaya’s songs. Listening to Kenzo’s version of “Born in Africa, I was short of throwing up and so I decided to mute my laptop. Lutaaya was a multi-talented guy. The original version made in the early 1980s still stands out of the crowd. Unlike the majority of the people who call themselves musicians, Philly Lutaaya was all round; he would compose music, dance, play musical instruments, writer songs, produce his own music and above all he was a musician.
The likes of Philly Bongole Lataaya, Fred Masagazi, Herman Basudde, Job Paul Kafeero, Elly Wamala, Fred Sebatta, Afrigo Band, Livingstone Kasozi, Christopher Ssebaduka and other uncelebrated musicians of the 60s, 70s and the 80s who relied on a piano, a guitar and local drums to produce music are not comparable to anyone else in this generation. They lived during unique hard times and they laid a foundation upon which the likes of Kenzo are flourishing. For some of us who read between lines, Kenzo is not getting foreign awards because he is good at what he does, some people are promoting him as a role model for a different agenda.
The recording studios of the time were relying on rudimentary equipments to produce and store music. There were no computers to enhance the voices or to correct mistakes that were made during recording. At times they had to cut a portion of the tape that had an error and used gum to glue it together. There was no auto-tune that is used in this age to turn terrible voices into something that comes close to a good voice. No wonder most of them cannot do a cappella of their own songs. After the Lutaaya’s of this world, there came another category of musicians whose music appealed to the youth of the late 1980s and 1990s.
If it were Raggae Dee, Rasta Rob, Emperor Orlando, Jimmy Katumba, Jose Chameleon, Fred Maiso, Bebe Cool, Menton Summer, Shanks Vivid, Juliana Kanyomozi, Kezia Nambi, Bobi Wine, Kads band, Nubian Lee, Jingo Show among talking, we would listen. We all know how hard it was to penetrate the music industry in the 1990s more at a time when the likes Puff Daddy, Eminem, Tupac Shakur were producing high quality music.
Some times when you have nothing to talk about, say nothing or even cry if you must. Silence helps you express yourself without uttering a single word. No one can deny the power of silence in this world because it helps deal with the most complex people and situations. Most people find it beneficial to be silent rather than shouting or arguing or saying things that will embarrass them. Kenzo, it is high time you consider silence as a sign of wisdom instead of weakness. Respect can diminish when you speak nonsense to the public.
The auther, Wadada Rogers is a commentator on political, legal and social issues. Wadroger @yahoo.ca
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