Traditional / folk music of Uganda
Uganda is a country with over 30 different ethnic groups. These ethnic groups shape the folk music of Uganda which is based on various rhythms and drumming music style. Before European arrives to Uganda on 1800, Uganda was mostly occupied by bushmen and there was no united kingdom or government. The search for the sources of Nile river, brought European explorers to Uganda. For a period Uganda was under the control of Egyptian government but later British took control of the region. Protestant and Catholic missionaries in the late 1800s came to Uganda and in the collide with Islam leaded to a pattern of murders in Uganda for a century. Uganda got its independence on 1961, but after became republic suffered from dictatorships and many people got murdered by the government.
In the 21th century, with the growth of globalization, Uganda has been experienced the economical growth and people are having more freedom. After a long period of disasters, they started to feel a better life in Uganda.
The traditional music of Uganda and its ethnic groups, mostly based on drumming, There are many types of rhythms for different events and situations. The Baganda people are the most dominant ethnic group on music and culture in Uganda and they have their own special way of folk music. Traditional music is an important part in daily life of Ugandan people. The folk music starts with the birth of child and it also continues with his/her death. Women also have a big part in the folk music. Games are played in order to prepare children, young men or girls to participate in all areas of life – to be a man, mother, for their work, including fishing, hunting, farming, grinding maize, attending weddings and funerals or dances. Most of the folk music genres in Uganda are pentatonic. Most of these rituals and ceremonies accompanied by a dance.
This type of folk music is one of the most astonishing and amazing music genre in Uganda. It is traditional music of Baganda people. Mostly they live in central part of Uganda and they are largest ethnic group. This traditional music is heavily based on different type of drums and percussions. Other than rhythmic section, the Akadinda xylophones, the Ennanga harp, the Etongoli lyre and the Kadongo lamellophone are used in this type of folk music. The musical scales are almost pentatonics.
This type of folk music is music of Jewish people in Uganda. They are about 600 communities who lives in small villages near the eastern Ugandan town of Mbale. In the beginning of 20th century, there were thousands of Jewish people in Uganda but many of them forced to convert to Islam or Christian-ism. Recent contact with and economic aid from Israel has bolstered the entire region near Mbale. Traditional music has a big role in their life and they keep and maintain their religion through their music. The music is Jewish but at the same time African. The lyrics are in Hebrew and also Luganda (one of the main languages between them).
Kadongo Kamu is the most popular music genre in Uganda. It was the first mainstream music in Uganda. Kadongo Kamu means “one little guitar”. The original versions of this music was performed by just one guitar although later other instruments also involved. The music is originated from the Baganda music and the ideas of guitar playing and singing comes from some of drumming style and dances in Baganda music. Fred Masagazi is considered as father of Kadongo Kamu. Also Elly Wamala is one of the founders of this music although later he abandoned performing it as he believed many uneducated musicians play Kadongo Kamu. Paulo Kafeero is the most celebrated composer and singer in the Ugandan tradition of Kadongo Kamu.
Kidandali is another type of popular music in Uganda. In local language it means “local party” or “celebration”. As it is obvious, it is the music in parties, weddings and these type of ceremonies.
There are many type of folk music instruments which are used in Uganda. Other than those which mentioned above these instruments can be named:
- Adungu: bow harped string instruments
- Berimbeau bow string instrument. It is also one of the most important folk music instruments in Brazil which went there through slavery era.
- Endingidi : one string fiddle style instrument
- Endere : type of flute
- Enkwanzi : panpipe wind instrument
- Akogo or Akadongo or Mbira : thumb piano and percussion instrument
- Engalabi, Engoma , Embuutu , Namunjoloba : Different types of drums.
- Akacence : shaker/percussion instrument
If you have more information about the folk music of Uganda, please kindly let us know through the contact us page. If you know some traditional songs from Uganda, you can send it from “Post a song” link in the top menu. If you see something wrong in the tags of list below, please kindly let us know.
Traditional / folk songs for Uganda
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