The organisers of the TUMA

Renowned musician and founder of Afrigo Band, a band that has been in existence for close to 40 years, has spoken out on the ‘decay in Uganda’s music industry’.

Matovu, who was speaking during the launch of The Uganda Music Awards (TUMA) which were launched yesterday at Serena Conference Center, Kampala, said that during his time any aspiring musician had to be talented before going to studio. However, today’s musicians are made from studio, he added.

Afrigo Band’s Moses Matovu (L) and music critique Eddie Ssendi at the TUMA launch

“For anyone who had a dream of becoming a musician, you had to first learn about music before becoming one – at least you had to be in position to play a particular instrument so that by the time you went to studio, you had some knowledge about music,” he narrated.

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On the contrary, he said, majority of today’s ‘Musicians’ can’t play a single instrument. “With the current technology, anyone can sing. Most of our musicians are made from studio. They can only sing in studio but when handed a microphone on stage, they can hardly sing,” Matovu said.

He added that the current breed of artistes lack originality and instead mimic Nigerians or Jamaicans, something that has affected them and the whole industry.

“We should avoid being incompetent; avoid singing like Nigerians. We need to professionalise our industry. Somebody should first learn before going to studio. We should look for quality and professionalism before going to studio,” he advised.

He also pointed out corruption as one of the major hindrances to the development of Uganda’s music industry.

“Unlike before, corruption is too much. A musician with money will use the money to bribe media to write about him or her and play his or her songs instead of investing such money in coming up with good works. They are investing more in publicity than their works. When we started music, a fan would come to stage and tell you that what you were singing was rubbish. We never took it for a quarrel. This pushed us to go back and make more rehearsals until when we came up with something they appreciated. On the contrary today’s musicians take criticism for a fight,” Matovu said, adding that the musicians’ reluctance to learn has indeed greatly affected them.

Musicians and guests including Urban TV’s Denzel Mweyiretse and NTV’s Sheila Gashumba at the TUMA launch

“We should call a spade, a spade; we don’t have quality music. Whereas they are called celebs all over Uganda, they are totally nothing when they leave Uganda. Nigerians and Jamaicans come and hold mega shows here but no Ugandan musician can hold any such show outside Uganda….. nobody knows them,” he charged.

Music critic Eddie Sendi blamed this on inferiority complex. “Ugandans suffer from low self-esteem. We have a problem from times immemorial of having been brainwashed into thinking that everything good has to be foreign. Not until we got over this inferiority complex that’s when we shall start appreciating our own (sounds),” he said.

Musician Ras B Ssali (wearing dreadlocks) at the TUMA launch

One of the musicians present, veteran reggae artiste, Ras B Ssali was in agreement with Sendi. Isaac Rucci from celebrated gospel music group, Limit X said that even though it has taken us a long time to come up with a distinctive sound, we are soon getting there.

“It’s heard to come up with a distinctive sound because unlike elsewhere like the Jamaicans, Uganda is made up of several tribes. We’ve been hearing it (sound) but it had taken us time to come up with that distinctive sound. But we are finally there,” he said.

According to the organisers, the awards will recognise the most creative musicians and not for their ‘number of nudes and sex tapes’, said Rucci.

Further, the fans’ votes only account for 40% while the 60% will be from the academy which wasn’t revealed to the media for fear it could be compromised by artistes.

Nominations started today and fans can nominate their artistes by downloading the TUMA app or sending nominations through SMS to 8384 at zero charge. “This is the first awards where fans will nominate artistes via SMS at zero cost.”

The academy will then go through the fans nominations, polishing them; making additions and removing some. “Hope these awards won’t be influenced by sponsors. They’ve killed all of the other awards,” Ras B raised his fears.

In response, the organisers said the awards were about the passion they had for Ugandan music and not money.

Singer Irene Ntale and others at the launch

Among the other artistes in attendance was Irene Ntale, Kyle, Kaz and Kasozi.