June 29, 2011
So earlier this week we released our very first music video – a cover of â€œShoopâ€ by Salt-N-Pepa. We like to think that itâ€™s made some people laugh, and brought new attention to our cause. If you havenâ€™t seen it yet, hereâ€™s the link.
And our rapping got us thinking about the incredible music culture in Uganda. Song and dance has long been established as an integral part of many African traditions as a means of expressing emotion and telling a story. Today in Uganda, popular music is a careful blend of traditional and modern styles. Rap (affectionately called LugaFlow when spoken in the native tongue) and hip hop are set to the rhythms of traditional drum beats and instruments such as harps, lyres and xylophones. According to UgPulse.com, this unique style makes up over 40% of what is played on Ugandan radio stations. In many other countries, there is a decided lack of original content. Songs are often covers of foreign songs or in other languages all together. The amount of local material produced and listened to in Uganda speaks volumes as to the strength of their national identity.
The Bavubuka Foundation is a musical production group that exemplifies this thoroughly Ugandan style of music. In addition to their collective talent as musical artists, the members of this organization focus on teaching the next generation to use song as a means of peaceful expression. The organizationâ€™s founder, Silas Balabyekkubo, frequently voices his belief in the power of youth. He has stated that â€œwhile most people seem to know Uganda for its HIV epidemic, the abduction of child soldiers and its brutal political past, I have always known Uganda for its youthful untapped energy which gives me strength and inspires me to bring hope to a generation that has survived to tell its story.â€ Much like the rap written by our very own Building Tomorrow interns, the music of the Bavubuka Foundation steps away from the expected themes of women, money, and cars. The lyrics instead serve as commentary on social issues such as HIV/AIDS, education, female empowerment, and refugee life.
Balabyekkubo explains that his organization operates under the philosophy that every voice deserves to be recognized, which is exactly what we at Building Tomorrow try to do as we work with a community in Uganda. Rather than approaching a community with a one-size-fits-all plan and implementing it with no questions asked, we develop partnerships. This enables us to work hand-in-hand to design and construct a learning facility best suited to their children. Together we can create schools where there were none, and provide opportunities to a generation of children who are eager to learn and find their place in the world.