Rather than dwell on the semantics of which among the Qwela Junction III line-up is a true diva or just a chanteuse, Qwanza Music’s Joe Kahirimbanyi prefers to dwell on the added value his event brings to the Kampala city cultural landscape. “Qwela Junction” is a quarterly showcase of collaborative concerts featuring handpicked artistes of a particular discipline. They all come together in a one-night only high quality live music showcase. The third edition brings together some of the finest voices and instrumentalists for a Sunday November 29th, 2015 concert at the plush Kampala Serena. They are the legendary Rachel Magoola, the soulful multi-instrumentalist MoRoots, the sultry Naava Grey, reality show star Sandra Suubi, stage gladiator Jemimah Sanyu, the steadfastly rising Solome and acoustic fret board Rita Sabiiti.
A scene from the opening play Moi, Monsieur et Moi from Senegal
If you fancy teasing your artsy palate with fine stage drama, then the 2015 Kampala International Theatre Festival is your sort of indulgence. The second edition has lined up works from Iraq (ISIS hasn’t decimated the arts there just yet), Belgium (the arts aren’t o lockdown here either) and Kosovo (the arts definitely survived the ‘90s Balkan mayhem. Closer to home is new Ugandan work and fine stage offerings from the very prolific Kenyan dramatic arts scene.
Saxophonist Kirk Whalum and ’90s R&B diva Karyn White at the 2015 Jazz Safari (OBSERVER PHOTO)
Jazz appreciation in Uganda straddles two audience divides; the purists and pretenders. The former are the kind that can tell Miles Davis from Earl Klugh while the latter are the kind that will tag along to a jazz event for the snob value that brings. The purists are most likely the lot that grew up with playing LPs as a family ritual complete with removing a giant black disc from its sleeve, delicately placing it on a circular revolving platform and placing a needle onto it to elicit the crackle of Davis’ trumpet. The pretenders are mostly the come-latelys for whom any saxophonist is by default a jazz artiste even when that musician is simply a fine instrumentalist. Their regular jazz fix is the measly hour-long weekly radio show installment where the purist would binge on at least a jazz CD a day.
Kampala Fashion Week (KFW) returns for its second edition looking more like a couture charade than a fashion exhibition showpiece. The most visible of its diminishing marginal returns is the shift from the grand Kololo Airstrip, venue for last year’s inaugural event to the more miniscule Acacia Mall rooftop this year. The monthly showcases in the run-up to its Thursday November 12th showcase also exposed KFW founder, designer Gloria Wavamunno as one not running a tight ship after she arrived fashionably late for the October activation and blaming city traffic for her delay.