New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Fr. Anthony Musaala

Love him or hate him, Rev. Fr. Anthony Aliddeki Musaala, 55, is one of the most popular priests of the Roman Catholic Church. Musaala is known not only in the Catholic Church, but also in the secular arena. But why the fame?

Musaala was the first Roman Catholic priest to storm the local realm of modern gospel music in Uganda. Before 2002, no Catholic priest had staged a public musical concert, let alone sharing a stage with secular artistes in pop music.

But Musaala dismissed this stereotype when he did gospel songs in modern styles like afro dance-hall, reggae, ragga, techno, R&B. The songs, which were of the gospel gene, got a lot of airplay on radio, TV as well as making it into various night clubs.

Musaala's dynamic entry into modern gospel music saw him scooping the award of Best Gospel Artiste of the year, during the PAM Awards of 2005. His song, Tusimbe mu Kisinde (off 'Katonda Taata' album) was voted best song of the year while his ensemble, the Gospel Groovers, was voted the best gospel group of the year.

Musaala's name again featured in the media when his song, Koona endongo ya Yezu, was declared as the best gospel hit in the 2006 PAM Awards.

Musaala continued to write songs as he also ventured into gospel crusades in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia.

Musaala currently has nine music albums, with songs are in Luganda, English, Swahili, Runyakitara and Bemba, a Zambian dialect.

Of course, Musaala's achievements were met with mixed feelings. Many conservative Catholics, some of whom were his brother-priests, criticized him for 'desecrating' the holy robes, whose use, they argued, was restricted to the altar.

Such criticisms notwithstanding, Musaala successfully opened the gates of the modern gospel musical arena to Catholic artistes, many of whom he also helped to identify their musical talents.

Some of the popular Catholic Gospel crooners include Fr. Michael Ssenfuma/anawim (urban contemporary gospel music), Bro. Robert Mukasa, Divine Love (gospel reggae ensemble), Richard Masembe, Jude Byansi, Fr. Gerald Wamala and the Agape Stars.

"Society has changed drastically, which is why we must devise unconventional means of evangelising.

"I do what I do, not because I am crazy, but because it is the appropriate thing I must do as a minister of the Church in a modern world," he says.

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