20 December 2012

Uganda: Afrigo Wash Away Grief At Beach

With the death of Don Kanta, their band mate and one of the founder members, still reeling in their heads, Afrigo band headed to Entebbe last Sunday to compare notes with their rivals Fusion band.

In a concert dubbed Lukoba ku Lukoba: Wire to Wire, Afrigo, Uganda's oldest and most seminal band, played alongside Fusion, another powerhouse band famed for breeding the likes of Iryn Namubiru and Maureen Kabasita at the latter's home- Water Front Beach Club.

By 7pm, guests were already struggling to find parking space yet the show didn't kick off until an hour later. With the stage finely set with Christmas lights and a giant screen that ran Fusion's ads, the hosts took the lead. Their performance was a stark contrast from recent tabloid reports about how the band is falling apart. I personally had come to believe the reports, even when I had never watched the band live.

Fusion band is in fact brimming with raw talent. Its plus-size dancers, pretty vocalists and skilled instrumentalists thrilled the audience, most of them women dressed in gomesi, with a range of music from across the world.

But it was perhaps their dancer/singer Shingo King who stole the show. The Congolese-styled fella is a great entertainer. His acrobatic performance and distinctively husky voice is reminiscent of the great Kanta. Though Kabasita was a no-show, Iryn and the other band members rocked.

Accompanying artistes, Bobi Wine and Phina Mugerwa provided the breather before mighty Afrigo hit stage at about 11pm. Led by frontman Moses Matovu, the band got everyone on their feet with their popular tune Afrigo Batuuse.

Then, Rachel Magoola backed by Joanita Kawalya wowed guests with the unforgettable Obangaina before Kawalya sent the tempo higher with Jim Wange. Joe Tabula and Rude Boy Devoh also performed.

Don Kanta might have left a big gap, but clearly, Afrigo still has the groove.

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