Last night , Rotary Uganda hosted an unforgettable concert featuring Isaiah Katumwa and the legendary Hugh Masekela at the Kampala Serena hotel. I’d like to start this recap by saying that if you weren’t at that concert, you really really missed out and you should feel bad. Besides providing some good old entertainment to the residents of Kampala, the concert was aimed at raising money for the Rotary hospital in Mukono and the Rotary blood bank. I’m sure they raised a tonne of money given that the ordinary and VIP tickets went for UGX250,000 and UGX500,000 respectively. Please note that the hall was filled to maximum capacity.
Moving on, the concert was flagged off by the amazing Isaiah Katumwa who did several original songs, my favourite of which being ‘This is me’. Such a soothing jam. Katumwa described it as a song that expresses who he is musically, especially given that he chose to take a different route with his music; ignoring the usual, the popular, the commercial and rather going for what was true to his being and his heart. He clearly performs from a very deep place which is both captivating and enchanting. From the looks on the faces of the audience, he had most of us in a near trance.
And the lungs in the man though! He held a note for a whole half minute (maybe even more), which had the entire place bursting in amazed applause.
What a performer! He moves slowly yet surely to the beat as he plays. He reminded me very much of the pied piper who had an entire town of children following after him because of the enchanting tune of his flute . After watching him, you forget about every other instrument. The saxophone really is the instrument of love.
And just when we thought we’d seen it all, the legend made an entrance during the performance of song titled ‘Mama Africa’ which Isaiah kicked off but the two then did together (they both sang, sending the crowd totally nuts.)
They performed another song titled Mapenzi, written by Isaiah Katumwa, together before Hugh Masekela took us on a journey down to the southern part of the continent.
He started off with a speech about world peace and a time when there were no borders, no countries, no wars, which is what the song is about. And right after the speech, he got down in a ‘paka chini ‘ which got the crowd excited and had some of us blushing with embarassment because the 70 something year old man got (and stayed, for longer than i can manage) down with such ease. Such a jolly man with a very powerful presence. And what a performer! He sings, acts, dances, plays the trumpet, shakers and some metalic thing he keeps striking interchangeably all through his act.
To be quite honest, after watching Isaiah perform, I’d wondered how a 70+ year old could possibly top that… But boy did he do it. Hugh Masekela undoubtedly BROUGHT THE HOUSE DOWN!
The highlight, for me, was his theatrical performance of the song about the struggle of men from Southern African countries who used to travel for hours by coal train to work in the mines in Johannesburg under very poor conditions and for very little pay during apartheid. There was quite a lot of storytelling, which gave his songs A LOT more meaning for the majority of us who didn’t understand Zulu/Xhosa (I’m not sure which of the two it was). He actually had me feeling like going to the nearest library and picking up a documentary or journal on apartheid.
At some point, he actually took a moment to call out the people who came to the show but were on their phones, asking why they bothered to come to the show if they were planning to be on their phones the whole time. This totally cracked me up. Clearly he knows nothing about snap chat, instagram stories and Twitter.
Long story short, the show was worth every penny. Also, the next time you hear that Hugh Masekela is in town, RUN and grab yourself a ticket.
Thank me later.
Disclaimer: All photos (except the last one) courtesy of Twitter and the hashtag #masekela4rotaryug. Thank God for citizen journalism!