MOSES MATOVU – The Legendary Face of Band Music in Uganda

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The legendary face of Ugandan Band Music- Moses Matovu; Courtesy Photo

By Pato Patrick’s Sentongo

The story of the Ugandan Live Band Music industry is incomplete without mentioning the passion, resilience, commitment, influence, and contribution of Moses Matovu, a multi-talented artiste who has graced the stage for almost five decades, leading the country’s top band; Afrigo.

A soft spoken gentleman with a dark skin complexion standing at five feet tall, Matovu is an embodiment of the Ugandan band music industry.

Matovu was born on June 19, 1949 to the late abdhallah Bukenya Bin Adam and Solome Nakitto In Kawempe, Kampala. He spent most of his childhood with his mother. He is a widower and has 11 children and grand children.

Matovu attended Namirembe Primary School and Kibuli Secondary School for his Senior One and Two and then he ventured into music. He started singing as a chorister in the Namirembe Cathedral Choir at the age of four.

He however began his professional music career with the Thunder-Birds Band in 1967 as a vocalist. He later joined the Police Band in 1969. Internal squabbles led to the disintegration of the Cranes Band in 1975.

On August 31, 1975, Matovu together with Tonny Ssenkebejje, Jeff Sewava, Charles Sekyanzi and Jessy Gitta formed Afrigo Band in Kampala.

The band’s material is heavily influenced by Congolese Rumba and borrows from Ugandan traditional rhythms and Folk music.

Afrigo band plays songs in local languages and Kiswahili, but mainly in Luganda, and it has since released 23 albums that Include Afrigo Batuuse, Jim, Genda Osome, Vincent, Mp’Eddembe, The Best is Afrigo, Julie, Afrigo Batuuse II ( Volume 8 ) Omutanda Gyali and Katonda Tumusinzenga.

Their great hits include Emmere Esiridde, Mundeke, Speed, Twali Twagalana, Amazzi Genyama, Jim, Rose Guma, Nnemeddwa, Suzana, Zalwango, Obangaina, Minzaani and Maria among others.

Matovu says there are songs that the band redo because they want to improve their production and context.

“By then I was so young and musically, I did not have much of what I have today. So I just wanted to re-arrange certain songs and bring them to the other people who did not know about them.” Matovu says.

He adds that until one is told that the songs Afrigo Band plays are of the 70’s, most of the Museveni “Bazzukulu” may think they (songs) are new.

Matovu says upcoming bands should have principles that can keep them together. He observes that live band music is improving in Uganda with a huge talent base around, but says the challenge is with an audience that expects only the best from them yet they don’t have it.

He says the biggest problem the Ugandan music industry has ever faced is the failure to own a distinctive sound of Ugandan music as the Congolese did with their “Rumba” style.

As for him, Matovu says he wanted to do music since his childhood.

Asked about retiring form the music, Matovu says “Yes I have to retire but I will not force it because there are older musicians than me who are still performing. It needs planning; you can’t just stop abruptly. I want to become a music tutor then”

In this Covid-19 era with concerts banned, Matovu says Afrigo Band has organized an online concert on 28 June 2020 for only shs.10,000 starting at 8pm on their online platforms.

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