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Friday, November 21, 2008

Wapi proves its versatility

The audience was impressed by the tone, pace and variety in the show and by the different creative performers , writes Dennis D. Muhumuza

"Fresh" may not be the real mot juste but it was a thing of beauty the Baxmba Waves did to the soul at the fifth edition of the Words and pictures (Wapi) presentation at Hotel Africana’s Peoples Space on Saturday under the theme: 'Focus Uganda.'

Relying on African drums, the guitars, the keyboards and other types of percussion instruments, the group played on exuberantly for over an hour, producing intimate jazz and heartfelt cultural sounds. The highlight was their collaboration with the man who has popularised Lugaflow (rapping in Luganda) GNL and the Jinja duo of Coin and Bear who have increasingly become popular at Wapi.

Those with an eclectic taste in music who were getting bored with the shallowness, monotony and predictability of the previous events savoured the moment and you could tell from their whoops that they would give Wapi another chance.

And the wannabes who had taken to miming in the name of singing were shown that you have to learn to play an instrument and perform live, to entertain rather hop about the stage, but most of all train your voice to be noted.

The Saturday show had new faces in Fondodelik Squard, an ensemble of Rastafarians who warmed up across the stage shouting hail Haile Selassie. Their leader assured the audience early that “you will love some of our samples.”

The “samples” were Rastafarian rhythms fused with acrobatics, magic tricks and somersaulting. One of them, shirtless Powerman, lay on his back on top of sharp nails and had a kanyama step up on his chest. When he was up again, he turned his back to the audience who saw where the nails had pierced but no blood.

Then Fireman played around with matches; lighting and smoking a cigarette with his feet, and then swallowing tongues of fire and waiting a while before spitting out the smoke. Accompanied by African drumbeats, the background crew all this time sang feelingly: “We knew no feeling till we came to know Jah/ We knew no love till we came to know Jah…”

Wapi is a platform for “underground visual and verbal artists” and so sculptor Hebert Bakka stood out among other arts and crafts exhibitionists. His little ‘guitarman’, ducks and dancing creatures all made out of old cutlery, especially forks and spoons were quite an attraction.

And plastered on the wall of another stall was some poetry by the East African Poet. Afrika was about the never ending beauty of the continent whereas Hush was “written for that only one who runs me helplessly helpless!”

The change extended to the free condom distribution and the Youth Link newsletter, which, Joseph Kasozi, from the Uganda Youth Anti-Aids Association, said were aimed at encouraging the youth to abstain from sex or use condoms to avoid STDs and unwanted pregnancies.

If the Wapi advisory board and performers retain this standard or more, there’s no reason why our visual and verbal arts cannot attain the desired greatness.