Disclaimer: This opinion post is not aimed at making you feel guilty for not knowing who Geoffrey Oryema is. Honestly, I was also introduced to the gentleman only a few years ago. Even then, I did not follow his music so much. In fact, when it came to my attention that Geoffrey Oryema is returning to Uganda after many years in exile, I had the eureka-moment (I got it) after remembering his Lapwony song.
Here is what I discovered from this piece by Opiyo Oloya
After all, his (Geoffrey Oryema’s) childhood world fell apart one day in 1977 when his father was brutally murdered on the orders of dictator Idi Amin. Up until that day, the young boy had enjoyed a privileged childhood befitting the son of Uganda’s most respected police chief who later became the Minister for Natural Resources. Moreover, Oryema had forged a close bond with his musical father, one of the last great nanga players in the whole of Acholi land. This was where Oryema learned to play the traditional nanga. Then came news of his father’s death announced on public radio. Devastated and only 24-years old, Oryema had to be smuggled in the trunk of a car to the safety of a neighbouring country. Like the fable Greek character Odysseus who begins wandering after the fall of Troy, Oryema was launched into a journey of searching for meaning in music.
I cannot blame you for not knowing Geoffrey Oryema. His music is not the popular dance-hall(ish) genre we call Kidandali. Be not deceived, I love me some kidandali and a good number of local songs. You might even find me listening to Alintwala of Stacia Mayanja or Tebyansala by Lady Titie. The former, I fell in love after watching the video whereas the latter simply reminds me of a love I found in Bae.
Knowing me and my village happiness, I dared my friends on Facebook to be knowing who Geoffrey Oryema is. The response I got shocked me. We are many. It then occurred to me that there’s a characteristic of those who know and love Geoffrey Oryema’s music. Again, I must say, I don’t intend to make you feel guilty for not knowing his music.
One: They probably listen to mainstream music but are not coerced into claiming a song is nice simply because it is popular. Those who listen to Geoffrey Oryema’s music are not entirely influenced by radio and television. They make their independent decision based on their exquisite taste.
Two: I already mentioned it in the last phrase. They have exquisite taste. They won’t listen to music that doesn’t feel authentic. That judgement comes from their own understanding of what good music is.
Three: They appreciate culture and its impact on our lives. They understand that, you can’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you are coming from.
Four: They appreciate the beauty in diversity. I say this because, Geoffrey Oryema has, with his 11 albums (like Exile, Beat The Border, Night To Night among others) demonstrated this.
Five: Those who love Geoffrey Oryema’s music most likely read a lot or research a lot. Do you know how hard it is to find out about this gentleman’s music? It won’t play on the typical radio show or in the club. This then means, if you love his music, you probably really look long and hard enough before getting your hands on it.
Six: You probably are a writer, poet, artiste, singer, or have a deep appreciation for the arts. This one really explains itself, I won’t add anything else.
Seven: You have an eclectic musical taste. You are not restricted to listening to one genre.
Eight: Most likely, you don’t know how to dance 😂
Nine: You want to see more and more Ugandans create music that is meaningful and can be listened to for many generations to come.
Ten: (Phew). Your friends are like-minded. They posses at least six of the above characteristics.
FYI: It is true that courtesy of Bayimba Honours, Geoffrey Oryema will return to Uganda for a concert. The son of the soil returns. He sung of living in exile and waking up in a strange land. We hope that after this, he will sing about Home, The Pearl of Africa.
Also read: Lapwony; An African Odysseus https://thelifeoforyema.wordpress.com/2016/11/17/first-blog-post/
The memo is here.