Uganda has been hit with award shows in the past years; just in 2013, almost twenty of such new shows – some good, some simply outrageous – were held. And before we could tell whether they would be back for a second edition, more joined.
The latest came on January 31, when Twaweza Initiative decided to recognise musicians that have made a difference through their lyrics and deeds. The Ni Sisi awards, a partnership of Twaweza and Buzz Events, were held at the Serena hotel gardens, in an invite only event.
Ni Sisi – Kiswahili for “it is us” – seeks to show Ugandans that the power to make change lies in their hands. In an era where self-proclaimed artistes come up with three-word songs only they understand and go on to become a hit, these awards are seeking out Ugandan musicians with songs that carry a message of self-initiative.
Unlike other award shows, this one was different; in fact, there were no winners. Everybody nominated won or received a certificate of appreciation. They recognized artistes such as Bobi Wine for his Jennifer, Irene Ntale for Politrix, Benon for Hope, and Maurice Hassa for his work with ophans.
One of the motivations for this project is the need to challenge and empower the large number of young people in Uganda (youth under 30 make up about 77% of the population).
Twaweza programme officer Deus Mukalazi says one of the objectives of the project is to inspire other artistes to use their platforms to promote dialogue for social change.
“We want musicians to use their music to speak for others,” Mukalazi said.
“While we are recognising those that have entertained masses with good messages in their songs, we think other musicians will start getting interested in current issues and start singing about them.”
According to GNL Zamba, whose efforts on Story Ya Luka couldn’t go unnoticed, the initiative is good at reminding musicians the core objectives of music, which is entertaining and communicating messages.
“We should sing not only to make a hit, but be relevant even to listeners way older than us,” GNL said.
Twaweza is Kiswahili for “we are able”. The 10-year-old citizen initiative focuses on large-scale change in East Africa. Other artistes recognised include Annette Nandujja, Judith Babirye, Stella Amito, Mariam Ndagire, Dan Mugula and Mathias Walukagga among others.
The day host was Fun Factory’s Richard Tuwangye.