Thursday, 25 June 2009

Three Short Lugbara Songs

1. Ojolo nya Awubisi, alio ewaru.
Aku ii ni nya njarusi...

2. Adeangu la, agoni abwa ika mbe erua [Logiri dialect]/
Ma nga ma wari isu ra. Ma awa awa. [Longing for the mother. My husband eats his
banana in the granary but me I would share…]

3. Ayi ya ma I’yo, ma I’yo/
Ma ye ago la, Ago ma gapiri/
Ga ma bo. Ma la ma ro’do [Spiritless because of something wrong]/
Ibi idria, enve, ofuta ye...

Short Biography of Jason Avutia, the First Chairman of LULA

He started as a Primary Teacher 1951 – 2, then Tutor 1953 – 1963. He became the Assistant Education Officer (AEO) in Arua 1964 – 1979; AEO in Hoima 1969 – 1971 [This was the time he found placement for my mother]; and AEO in Moyo 1971 – 4 before being promoted to Education Officer. He was transferred to Ministry of Education Headquarters working on Education of teachers and registration, certification plus submission of discipline cases to the Teaching Service Commission. Jason was then transferred as Assistant Provincial Commissioner for Education in the West Nile Region 1977 – 9. Between 1979 and 1982, he was the Education Officer in Arua. After that he retired.

I chatted with Mr. Jason Avutia in June 2009 at his home opposite the Mvara Mission football ground and here are a few of the many wonderful things he shared with me, “GOD has given us (Lugbaras) millet, it makes us strong so that we work. If you don’t work, you will die. (Sir Winston) Churchill is the Greatest Man in British History because he won the war but after office work, he would go home, take off his shirt and perform chores such as weeding in his garden…”
The Lugbara do not have a king, that is someone who brings them together. They do have chiefs though but these do not perform cultural duties. The Agofe (Lugbara for ‘Pillar’) meanwhile has the task to keep Lugbara Heritage alive. He does not necessarily have to be the oldest. According to tribal trivia, Atanva Ezekeli Arinze is the Oldest Lugbara who ever lived 1797 – 1967 [Exactly 170 years]. Although retired, Jason was the Agofe (Tree in the middle of the house where small branches are attached) for some time, “Lugbara Culture teaches you to Respect your Parents (Elders), Not to kill nor murder, Not to commit adultery, Not to steal nor rob, Not to lie, and Not to covet a neighbour’s property…I am a teacher by choice. When a teacher is posted to a village school and after one year s/he leaves, I get angry. They never get to see their first pupils or students grow…”

Jason Avutia was the first chairman of LULA, the definitive authority on Lugbara Literature. Also known as ‘Amuti Lugbara Ti Sipiri’ – Lugbara Literature Association with an office at the Ediofe Highway Arua Resource Centre, LULA was founded in 1994 but registered as an NGO in 1999. It has not been so active in the recent past because of, as Jason says, financial constraints but the fire that has been lighted for the Lugbara community should never be put out…The success of any cause lies in the wisdom of many, so if many people get enlightened about and inspired to support LULA, it should definitely survive and grow bigger…

Friday, 19 June 2009

Black Harmony (West Nile)

Comprising Emmanuel Ledra and Robert Adima, this socially conscious and lyrically wise Lugbara duo is making waves rated one of the best in West Nile, Sudan and the Congo. East Africa is a beckoning frontier and it might not take long before they are recognised more regularly from Bujumbura to Bushenyi, Busia to Bagamoyo; the world at large will also be listening. They do not flaunt silly chains, women nor diamonds and gold nor brag about them like American hiphop rappers but you can measure a lot of worth in Black Harmony's uplifting music. They bring people together. Emma and Bobby hang around their community like any other downtown lad in Arua. Despite being stars, they do not let fame get into their heads. Straight off the streets coming loud and clear with a positive vibration, this dynamic duo are the perfect flag bearers for Lugbara (Ongo) Music.

Emmanuel, the lead singer who does most of the Lugbara raps while his colleague sings in English (with a Reggae flavour as he admitted), first did music in 2003. He formed a club called “Street Culture” but waited two years to produce his first song “Isabella”. Then in 2006, the duo came up with “Munyu Munyu” and “Leta”. “Munyu Munyu” was a very powerful hit (actually used as a ringtone by uganda telecom) that it made a runaway husband return to the four women each of whom he had left with a kid in Uganda.

A female artist named Lady Shadia doing music in Kampala once came to Arua to see how she could take her music to the next level and united with Black Harmony. They produced a quadrolingual hit called “Shadia” or “Baby Gal” which was chosen as a live performance during the 2008 Bell PAM [Pearl of Africa Music] Awards (The collaboration actually scooped the preliminary 2008 Regional Award for West Nile though Dogman won the final award) [but Watch out for 2009]. “Shadia” was the second last song on the “Leta” Album, “Bacaku” which some call “Skulu” is the last one.
The next (and third) album will be called “Ti Icita” meaning “Unity” in Lugbara and includes other languages like Lingala, Swahili, plus English. BH sings about love, community development, parental affection, hard work, procreation and AIDS Prevention.

“The Best Music is Live Music,” Emmanuel confesses and they have performed with Wenge Musica from Congo besides his own project called “Amangonde”. Other moving songs by BH include “Ewa Be Ma Ra”; “Lucky”; “Etoo”; “Adiaa”; “Ti Icita” (Title Track for their 3rd Album); “Jua Kali”; “Anga Azi Avasi”, plus “Silimu”...