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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Corruptible performances at Wapi


Last Saturday was the fourth edition of the Words and pictures (Wapi) show at Hotel Africana’s people’s space. The day’s theme was “Wapi: My Rights”, and by sheer coincidental irony, the audience fulfilled their “right” of lagging in late so much that the show began three hours late.

The viewers were also fewer and less responsive than the crowds that jammed the previous events.

A few harmless presentations kicked off the show in earnest before a grotesquely dressed clown befouled the mood with a shameless show. He wore black thin-textured pants, tight like an Elizabethan costume, which made his crotch stand out like the beak of a vulture. He introduced himself as “the devil”. His definition of funny is vulgarity. His take one was directed at girls: “Have you ever been f*#ked up by five different guys and you wind up getting pregnant and you don’t know the father of your baby?”

With sweat pouring down his face, he then made some jerky movements and dragged on and on barking like a dog and later pantomimed lewd scenarios while lip-syncing pre-recorded dirty songs. Of course some adolescents found some of his weird acts funny but from the look of many, it was good riddance when he finally left the stage.

A delightful watch came in a 13-year-old called Eric “Ddosa” Twizera. He sent the crowds wild as he bounced on stage like a ball and performed one of his songs, Kampala Muzuri. Later, many were seen clamouring to have a “Kodak moment” with the young boy.

Another surprise was the two look-alike brothers who could easily be mistaken for twins. Paul and Lawrence or PLA as they call themselves, charmed the audience with the simplicity and innocence of their freestyle. Unlike those before them, these students of St. Peter’s Nsambya SSS didn’t do it behind the beat or mime but just created words on stage, rapping in Luganda in a fluid and clear style that elicited gleeful applause.

“We did the real thing up there because music is our game,” they said. “We came here to find a name and get known.”

The members of the Break Dance Project, mostly children ranging from 12 to 16 years flaunted dance tricks that the audience marvelled at. They rolled on the dance floor, threw in swift and nimble flips, glided better than Michael Jackson, walked on their hands and writhed like cobras with such finesse it appeared they had no bones in their bodies. T

he models came on strutting in some interesting creations and it was back to music. This time it was rapper Xtreme. His was a performance of obscenities splashed with the “f” word and belted with such ferocity and speed you would swear something was wrong with him.

Had he just read what was on display at Roland Tbirutsya’s stall? The painter had on his canvas some “truth about hip-hop”, downloaded from the website of controversial American preacher, Craige “The Messenger” Lewis to the effect that secular hip-hop is the devil’s tool to hoodwink young people and keep them away from God. The information included “hip-hop’s unspoken ten commandments” that included, among others, coveting expensive things like cars, doing drugs and having lots of sex.

Many read this information attentively which the born-again painter had displayed “to mainstream God’s truth and show the young people that being a celebrity or having power minus righteousness is wickedness.”

If Xtreme had annoyed the moralists in the crowd, it was worse when the Maisha Girls in their half-naked state put up what – without mincing words – was a pornographic show. Their erotic twists and gyrations is fodder for patrons in some red light bar but not for Ugandans. They soon coupled up with their male counterparts to grind and bump against each, making a frenzied group of boys at the mouth of the stage to remove their shirts and lick their lips.

Is this the talent Wapi is nurturing?

Even guest artiste Mad Ice was disturbed. As soon as he grabbed a microphone, he lambasted the likes of Xtreme to stop “being 50 Cent” and watch their content for “it’s not good for the young people.”

The Gwe Wange singer also challenged the audience not to accept dirty stuff from the performers, and upcoming artistes to stop miming and get real if they want to make a mark.

At 8p.m., when the show ended, as I found my way home, I wondered if the ferocious sun had had something to do with the generally corruptible performances. But the poor turn up coupled with the lackadaisical response was hint enough that the honeymoon between the British Council organised event and the audience is over. The organisers might want to change rules, and pretty soon, if Wapi is going to have a positive impact and win the respect of all.

--Daily Monitor, Monday, October 19, 2008.