News, reviews and commentary on afrobeat and related music from Africa, The Caribbean and The Americas

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Feminist Afrobeat From Uganda

By Robert Fox

Uganda’s Doreen Mutibwa has a new CD out. It’s her third recording, and she takes time to give some instructions to the men-folk half of the planet: how about let’s respect the women in your lives?

The Godfather of Afrobeat Fela Kuti wasn’t exactly known for his progressive views on gender issues, despite his mother’s history as one of Nigeria’s leading feminists. Nonetheless, the current Afrobeat Renaissance has spawned a number of bands who feature women in central roles, including Femm Nameless, Afrodesia and Chopteeth, as well as strong women who perform solo including Wunmi Girl.

You can definitely add Doreen Mutibwa voice to the mix. From

Mutibwa's third and latest album, Gutujja is a more mellow piano-based Afro beat akin to Sophia Nantongo, and equally introspective women in the Eagles Production Band.

Gutujja is largely about the power of love and the search for acceptance, including learning to trust each other, the ups and downs of marriage and comforting victims of abuse.
Whereas Abakazi Tulinga Ssente explains the value of a woman, Nonya Owuwo bashes philanderers. Play Boy praises good lovers, while Tompita Mukadde is about rocky marriages. The last track, Kitwandikoze, is advice to arrogant husbands.
While music from Uganda is hard to come by in many places, you can check out the video for her tune Leka Kunjogerera on You Tube below. It’s a nice sounding afropop melody despite the electronic horn section. But I know how hard it us to organize and studio record a horn section in the US, and I imagine that it’s even harder in Kampala. You don’t need the subtitles to get the message!

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