The Observer (Kampala)

24 February 2013

Uganda: How Afrigo Has Stood the Test of Time

In a follow-up to last week's 38 years of Afrigo band, Hassan Badru Zziwa profiles founder Moses Matovu's current cast that has withstood the test of time.

Saidi Kasule (62): One of the most recognisable figures in the band due to his trademark high trousers, the saxophonist joined in 1978 but in the early 1990s, the towering figure had stints with several Kampala bands before returning 'home' in 2007 to take over from then ailing Mansur Bulegeya (RIP).

Eddie Ganja (59): The lead guitarist's music career dates back to 1969 when he performed with Cranes band. Ganja also enjoyed some success as a vocalist with singles such as Yali Nze, Hanifa and Nzenna Nkozze - before he joined Afrigo in 1978.

In a shocking twist, Ganja gave up all forms of music in the 1990s but in 2010, he made a comeback to Afrigo, and has never looked back since. He is married to Rosette and the couple has eight children.

Herman Sewanyana (58): Perhaps the most entertaining individual in Afrigo, 'Sewi' has been with the band since 1980 as a percussionist. The conga specialist has also made several compositions for the band that include Essaawa Ey'okusanyuka, Ngenda mu Afrigo and Katwebaze.

Also renowned for his merriment, Sewanyana's animated bag of tricks while playing the congas is a fans' favourite. On the side, Sewi leads Percussion Discussion Africa, a folk pop group. He is married and has five children.

Joanita Ndwadde Kawalya Muganga (46): A hot prospect while performing with Diplock Segawa's 'Wrens,' Joanita gained nationwide recognition when she joined Afrigo in 1989. Later that year, her first hit as the band's lead female vocalist was Mundeke and it straightaway propelled her to a household name.

Follow-up hits like Jim, Semuwemba, Mp'eddembe, Julie, and Tuukayo among others, solidified her position as one of the band's key vocalists. Joanita has over the years also made renditions of her late father's, (Eclas Kawalya), songs like Tony, Nfunda N'omubi, Suzana and others. She is a teacher by professional and is married to Christopher Muganga. The couple has two children.

Rachel Magoola (46): She joined Afrigo in 1989 as a back-up vocalist and dancer. But years later, Rachel displayed her immense talent as a songwriter and made her breakthrough in 1997 with Obangaina, a mega hit that enjoyed mainstream appeal and made her an overnight star.

In 2002, Rachel left the group to form her own band and later relocated to the UK to perfect her music, but rejoined Afrigo in 2009. Magoola holds a bachelor's degree in Education and she teaches music and English in Walugogo Primary Teachers College, an institution she co-owns.

Peter Bazanye (36): Popularly known as Rude Boy Devoh, he has been on the music scene right from the mid-90s. By then, he was a dancehall artiste but in 2000, he joined Afrigo as a back-up vocalist. Over the years, he formed a rhythmic harmony with Matovu and the late Don Canta [Livingstone Ibanda].

The soft-spoken Bazanye also has his own compositions such as Sala Amagezi Tugende mu Kampala, Sikutegeera, Man U Muwanike Emikono and Sembera, among others.

Dan Kaggwa Seninde: The band's keyboardist since 1997, Kaggwa is renowned for his versatility and ably fills in for absent guitarists with his multitasking keyboard.

Also an organist at Namirembe cathedral, Kaggwa holds a bachelor's degree in Music from Makerere University.

Charles Busuulwa: Before joining the group in 2000 from Diamond Production, he had worked with Elly Wamala (RIP) and Tony Sengo (RIP). The ever-present figure is the band's bass guitarist and holds a bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Makerere University.

Eric Sabiti (43): Sabiti joined the group in 1991 as part of the band's backstage staff but within a short time, he learnt on the job to become the group's drummer.

Eddie Yawe: Yawe joined Afrigo band in 2008 and brought along hits such as Kati Onoba, Maria, Faridah, Media and Kayembe. He holds a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications, a diploma in Music, Dance and Drama as well as a master's degree in Sound Engineering from the USA.

Joe Tabula (37): He joined Afrigo in 2012 as a vocalist with songs such as Wendi, Abantu Bazibu, Twakoowa, Ndikusanga and as rendition of Philly Bongoley Lutaaya's Diana. Tabula is a producer and owns a recording studio, Tabula Recording Agency, at Najjanankumbi, but he was a bass guitarist who also featured in Badindazi and Waka Waka bands. Tabula is married with four children.

Abbey Katongole: The trumpeter crossed from Jeckaki Band in 2006 and also doubles as a backup vocalist. He holds a bachelor of Arts degree from Makerere University.

Julius Nshaba (28): The ever-jolly drummer joined the band in 2010 as Sabiti's understudy. However, he has perfected his job and from the way he does his thing, you could think he is possessed. Nshaba is just enjoying his job and currently is recording his Mukwano song and many are yet to come.

Cliff 'Keys' Mutebi (32): Cliff is a son to late music star Peterson Tusubira Mutebi. He started performing with the group in 2010 and regularly performs his late father's classics such as Solome and Nyongera Ku Love.

Jasentah Wamboka (40): She joined Afrigo in October 2001 from KADS band as a dancer, but her 2002 single Khusa Khubulamu was very popular.

She has since concentrated on back-up vocals as well as dancing. Jasentah is also an accomplished fashion designer and is the brains behind many of the band's costumes.

Sarah Namiyonga Tendo (26): The dancer is one of the youngest members and joined the band in May 2009. The charming dancer is a second year student at Makerere University pursuing a bachelor's degree in music. On the side, she owns a dancing group called Nyange Traditional Performers.

Irene Lalam (27): She joined Afrigo in May 2009 from Crane Performers as a traditional dancer. Irene is stoutly built and a reserved person. But when it comes to performance, she is very energetic and she has also put up impressive contemporary dances. Irene holds a Makerere University bachelor's degree in Human Resources and is still single.

Hakim Kibirige (32): Joined Afrigo in May 2009 as a traditional dancer from Paul Kafeero's Kulabako Guitar Singers. However, the stocky dancer has proven to be an all-rounder with contemporary dances. Kibirige is a single father and operates a boutique in Wandegeya dealing in women's shoes.

Bosco Jjuuko (32): Jjuuko, also known as "Niceman" by his fans, joined Afrigo from Ragga Dee's group in 2009 as a contemporary dancer, but what attracts fans is the way he wriggles his waist as if he is boneless.

Sunday Sekiranda (46): Sunday joined the band in 1994 as a backstage support staff, but since then he has moved up to become the band's technician after the departure of Hajji Juma Kadir in 2008. Sunday is married with six children.

Livingstone Ibanda (RIP): One of the band's lead vocalist, Ibanda, popularly known as Don Canta, joined Afrigo in 2000 and straightaway established himself as a star entertainer.

Sadly, he succumbed to pneumonia last December but will forever be remembered for his charming attitude and vocal abilities, particularly when performing Franco classics like Mario, Matata ya Mwasi as well as Tabuley's C'est comme ca la vie

Previous story

Afrigo: 38 and still counting

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