24 June 2018

Uganda: Music Legend Oryema Dies at 65

Photo: The Observer
Geoffrey Oryema.

A renowned Afro-pop-rock France-based Ugandan music legend Geoffrey Oryema is dead. News of his sudden demise trickled over the weekend through the social media and confirmed by a relative, Gerald Omony.

"Mr Gerald Omony, on behalf of the greater family of Late Erinayo Oryema, wishes to inform you with the deepest sorrow, the sudden loss of their beloved uncle, an internationally renowned Ugandan musician, Geoffrey Oryema that occurred this afternoon in France where was resident," the family said in a statement.

The family bereavement announcement further read: "Uncle Geoffrey had been battling cancer for quite some time."

Oryema, 65, a legendary singer was a son to Erinayo Wilson Oryema, Uganda's first African Inspector General of Police (IGP), Minister of Land, Housing and Physical Planning, Mineral and Water Resources. His father Wilson Oryema was a cabinet minister who was brutally murdered under unclear circumstances - allegedly on President Idi Amin's orders.

He was born in Soroti district on April 16, 1953. At the age of 24, and at the height of Idi Amin's regime, Oryema was smuggled across the Ugandan border in the trunk of a car for fear of his life. Since leaving Uganda in 1977, Oryema returned home in December 2016 for the first time in 40 years. His last tour and concerts were in Kampala and Ouagadougou Jazz Festival in April 2017.

The international music icon sings in Swahili, Acholi, English and French languages. His first songs Makambo and Land of Anaka were released in 1991 earning him fame and recognition while in exile.

Several friends and fans of the icon have expressed deep sorrow over the sudden demise of the legendary soloist. Allan Smokie, a Gulu based singer said. "Rest in peace our legendary musician. We shall always live to remember you for taking Luo music to the next level."

Another fan, Kaz Kasozi said, "Sad to hear of Geoffrey Oryema's passing. A veritable musician that has shown a beautiful slice of Uganda to the world."

Faisal Kiwewa recalled that "I am totally saddened by the passing of my dear friend and a legend. I am proud that we shared and celebrated part of his life at his homecoming concert"



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