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KPC’s Nativity Call

Christmas Bonanza in Uganda

This year’s KPC Christmas cantata may not top the hilarity of last year’s presentation but it is still a fine indulgence. Those with a palate for rich vocal delivery will definitely enjoy this year’s instalment aptly titled The Call for Christmas. It is a call to partake of the finest music this side of the equator and by the end of the hour-long show you will agree with Marylin Skinner when she says the KPC choir is the best in the world. This is “haute” entertainment complete with Christmas carols that benefit from an elegant make over.

Patrons will not miss the traditional characters of the nativity  story one bit. Seeing Joseph leading a pregnant Mary on the back of a donkey looking all over Bethlehem for room at the inn would have been a little too clichéd. Only the heavenly host of angels make an appearance in the form of Watoto Children’s Choir and even God Himself would strongly think about auditioning these tots for heavenly choristers.The absence of Baby Jesus in a manger with shepherds and the Magi paying homage does not negate the whole nativity experience. Great music makes up for that enough to make purists agree that the church may also offer redemption to Ugandan music. Then there is the dancing, which despite being mostly exotic, blends well with the music. If hop-and-skin routines do not amaze you, the ballet will and it comes complete with a ballerina dancing en pointe (on the tips of her toes) like the ones in the quintessential Swan Lake.

That KPC went for a very modish presentation this time does not mean there was no room for good old church tunes of yore long before today’s musical instruments rendered the church organ an antique. Homage is paid to this signature cathedral fixture by way of a delightful Christmas carol rendition. The band is something else and what makes these musicians a very fine bunch are sessions like the Afro/jazzy instrumental piece they play while a tithe is taken. Of course all this is partaken of free of charge but Mrs. Skinner does do a bit of gentle persuasion in getting patrons to deep into their purses to offer their “most extravagant, lavish and generous gift”. But the greatest gift one could give is accept “Baby Jesus” as their Lord and saviour, well that according to Pastor Gary Skinner’s closing remarks at the end which KPC’s Call For Christmas is all about just in case they missed the big story and only got caught up in the fine music (that male a cappella was sublime), lights and the female choristers’ kikoy costume. The presentation ends on Christmas Eve with shows at 3pm and 5pm.


Marienthal, Seaton Sizzle at Jazz Safari


Eric Marienthal could not have asked for a better 51st birthday celebration. The renowned American saxophonist was treated to a unique safari experience on his first visit to Africa. He ate cake underneath a starry African sky and had high praise for the other instrumentalists that shared the Ange Noir Parking Lot stage with him. They included fellow compatriot Oscar Seaton on drums, UK keyboard genius Henry Holder and our own Pragmo on keys, Michael Ouma on acoustic guitar and Tshaka Mayanja on bass. Seasoned talent from our eastern neighbours Kenya in the form of Julius Wakake (percussions) and Dezi Ray (guitar) completed the ensemble that would take enthusiasts onto a smooth jazz rollercoaster that lasted into the one o’clock wee hour. Pragmo kicked it off with a divine playing of the classical Beethoven piano

anthem, Fur Elise, which Marienthal picked up on with a peachy saxophone flavour that grew into a splendid reggae tune in the space of three minutes. That was the harbinger of great things to come with the discourse amongst brass and stringed instruments receiving a seasoning of gratifying keyboard playing and Seaton’s animated act on the green Yamaha drum kit. The appreciation rule here was to try and look out for the elements of jazz but even if you were not familiar with jazz jargon like melody, harmony, rhythm, improvisation, blues, swing or improvisation, just sitting back and watching the dialogue between the breezy brass tones from Marienthal’s saxophone and the stringed chords from Ouma’s guitar was gratifying enough.

Some wished Marienthal had stayed around to offer a master class to emerging Ugandan saxophonists on how to sustain a note without getting CPR. Although most of the sessions comprised an introduction to new tunes that were outside Elijah Kitaka’s Jazz Evenings radio playlists, familiar territory came in the last minutes of the show when the instrumentalists were joined by three vocalists; Mathew Nabwiso, Lillian Kyabakye and Deborah Kisakye. It was here that the audience got to sing along to Luther Vandross’ Your Secret Love and Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On.

Even on these slow tempo songs, Seaton (who has played for musical luminaries like George Benson and Lionel Richie) felt he had to expend his energy on hitting his drum kit with musical gusto. Those cymbals must have sighed with relief when the band finally took a bow even with recurrent shouts demanding “one more song”.  Dina, Ouma’s kid sister held the promise of an African offshoot to smooth jazz going by her flawless “akogo” (thumb piano) bit on Tamia’s So Into You even when vocalist Kyabakye threatened to ruin the song’s flow. Kitaka and Mayanja, the duo that has embarked on making jazz mainstream in Uganda has promised that the Sizzlin’ Jazz Safari (borrowed from the sizzle of barbequing meat) will be an annual affair. Their biggest prayer will also be that more human beings fill the white plastic seats at Ange Noir in 2009.

New venue for Jan 1’s Comedy Night


A simmering battle between two of Uganda’s telecommunication players will see Theatre Factory play out their comedy skits at an alternative venue this New Year’s Day. Rather than see swords drawn and the re-enactment of a war akin to the current scenario in Gaza between Hamas and Israel, Theatre Factory took the cordial route and decided to let the “yellow” company sponsoring the theatre group currently at the National Theatre have the whole premises drape the playhouse in its omnipresent bright colours.

Theatre Factory is having the last laugh in all this. Unlike the group currently showing at the National Theatre a play about “blood at a junction” the comedy outfit can bank on its loyal audience that follows it like loyal sheep.

Comedy Nite this Thursday takes plays at Pan World Car Wash just a stones throw from the regular venue down Dewinton Road. The “blue” telecom company that sponsors Comedy Night is not too bothered by the bullying from its Titanic rival.

It is taking comfort in the fact that the last Comedy night on Christmas Day packed a bigger crowd than the paltry patrons at the “yellow”-sponsored theatre show.

So happy is Theatre Factory about this that they are thinking about scouting a new venue. That will sound the death knell for the National Theatre, which is fast shrinking as a haven for the performing arts and more as a wedding meeting venue.

Taking a Seat Belt Too Far


Uganda never ceases to amuse. An unidentified man shocked passersby when he refused to board a boda boda (motorcycle) that wasn’t fitted with seat belt.

The man, who had travelled from Kisoro shunned motorcycles without safety belts claiming he had heard of people being dragged to court for failing to fasten their safety belts.

Eventually, he consulted a traffic policeman closeby to tell him the truth. When the policeman confirmed to him that only vehicles were required to have safety belts, he freely boarded the boda boda and left.

Lady Drops Man Over Bed Time ‘Irrigation’


In Kawempe, a newly married woman surprised her neighbours when she ended her marriage, because she could not tolerate her husband’s habit of bed-wetting, writes a Vision Reporter.

The woman identified as Rehema married Abdul one month ago. While putting their wet bedding outside in the sunshine, she complained to the neighbours that her husband urinated on the bed daily, even when she tried to save the situation by waking him up to urinate in the basin.

She said in their two-roomed house they could no longer receive visitors due to the stench from their bedroom. She said she was fed up of the situation. She therefore, packed her belongings and left for her sister’s home. In the evening when Abdul heard what had happened from the neighbours, he said he was only sweating not bed-wetting as his wife claimed.

But according to neighbours, bed-wetting had been a problem for Abdul since childhood. They said three wives had left Abdul because of that problem and they were sure no woman would settle with him.

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