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How Bob Marley influenced music in Uganda

by Editorial Team
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By Kampala Sun Writer

February is Reggae Month in Jamaica. It is the time the nationals celebrate their unique contributions to world music. This Caribbean island nation with about three million people has had a huge impact on the world through popular music and culture. It gave us Bob Marley, considered one of the pioneers of reggae music.

Born in Jamaica on February 6, 1945, Bob Marley’s influence on music has spread the world over.

Since the 1970s, reggae — in its varied genres — roots, lovers rock, dub and dancehall — has reached virtually every corner of the globe.

In Uganda, reggae, especially its offshoot ragga, is the dominant dance music and it can be heard almost everywhere. It can even be felt in our indigenous music styles like Kidandali and good old Kadongo Kamu!

One of Philly Bongoley Lutaaya’s biggest songs, Born In Africa, is sculpted with reggae beats.


Tshaka Mayanja was the first Ugandan musician to record a reggae album

Maddox Sematimba is said to be the best reggae singer in Uganda

Tshaka Mayanja is reputed to be the first Ugandan musician to record a reggae album.

Maddox Sematimba is feted as the best reggae singer that Uganda has ever produced.

All South African reggae singer Lucky Dube’s five concerts in Uganda were always packed to the rafters.

Fans filled Lugogo Cricket Oval when British reggae band UB-40 performed there in 2008.

“I have been around and seen quite a few things, but I think this is one of the best shows ever put up in this country or region,” Tshaka, one of the organisers, said then.

Some of the Jamaican reggae musicians who have performed in Uganda include Chaka Demus and Pliers, Tarrus Riley, Chronixx, Sean Paul, Alaine, Buju Banton and Aswad.

Buju Banton (centre) makes a Rastafarian gesture upon his arrival at Entebbe International Airport for his show in 1997

Cedella Booker Marley, Bob Marley’s mother (right), on arrival at Entebbe International Airport for her show, which took place at Sheraton Hotel Gardens on January 5, 1996

Spanner Banner and Chaka Demus at Entebbe International Airport ahead of their show at Nakivubo Stadium

Jamaican singer Shaggy works the crowd during his show at Speke Resort Munyonyo in December 2003

Alaine shortly after arrival at Entebbe International Airport

Chronixx performing at Ndere Cultural Centre in 2016

Sean Paul at Lugogo Cricket Oval in 2012

Tarrus Riley performing at Lugogo Cricket Oval in August 2018

Jamaican reggae is popular in Uganda and throughout Africa for basically the same reason that it is popular throughout the rest of the world. It has a beautiful rhythm with a sound and feeling all of its own.

It is a style of music that moves people in body and spirit in an immediate, powerful way that is special to itself.

There is no missing that reggae and islands are connected if the fact that the popular music genre was birthed in Jamaica, an island country in the Caribbean Sea, is anything to go by.

The Bayimba Reggae Fest aims to replicate that by way of a weekend music party on Lunkulu Island right in the middle of Lake Victoria just outside Mukono town.

The two-day music fete will start tomorrow, Saturday, at 4:00pm right into Bob Marley’s birthday on Sunday, at midday to give revellers ample time to make their way back to the city in time for the new work week ahead.

The line-up comprises choice Ugandan reggae acts that include Maddox Sematimba, The Blood Brothers alongside Jamal Wasswa, Azawi and Ras Nesta.

Revellers dancing during Bob Marley’s birthday in 2014

Bebe Cool and Bobi Wine perform at Bob Marley’s birthday

Being an overnight party that will be limited to just 200 people with strict enforcement of SOPs, the full reopening of the economy notwithstanding, the sh100,000 levy will cater for camping gear comprising a tent and sleeping bag and a slew of activities that will include a camp fire, forest trek, bird watching and aquatic activities on the lake.

But for the most part it will be a 20-hour party to celebrate what would have been Bob Marley’s 77th birthday.

See more details in today’s (Friday) The Beat in New Vision newspaper or go to














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