***EULOGY: Fred Masagazi Remembered as Talented Musician, Faithful Friend and Loving Father

Comments 7080 Views Kampala, Uganda
Radio stations, music halls, theatres and discotheques have this week dedicated time to play the music of Fred Masagazi, a veteran Afrojazz musician who died on Tuesday night. On Wednesday close to 1,000 people converged at the National Theatre in Kampala to pay tribute to one of Uganda's oldest professional musicians. They were full of praise for his artistry, his skill, his professionalism and his enduring love for music. Fred Masagazi rose to fame shortly after independence in the 1960s. At the time, Ugandan musicians were trying to find their own voice. Colonial influences had alienated people from their traditional heritage and the music of the ancestors was fading away. The musicians were unwilling to give in to the classical Baroque music forced upon them in class by the British. They longed to return to their rich pentatonic, syncopated heritage and they tried to fuse it with the sounds of zouk, jive, afrobeat and highlife that were making their way across the borders. It was around that time that Fred Masagazi met another struggling artist, Samuel Kawuma Nsereko. Nsereko says he met Masagazi in 1965 when he was playing in a Congolese band. Five years later they force the Cranes Band, joining forces with Tony Senkebejje, Billy Mbowa, John Clive Mayanja and Paul Mubiru. Nsereko says Cranes Band became the talk of the town. It drew in hundreds of teenagers who attended a afternoon weekly dance that played modern Ugandan music by young, talented Ugandan artists. Jackson Ndawula, president of the International Theatre Institute, remembers the thrill he felt hearing Masagazi's song play on the British Broadcasting Corporation. He says it was one of the high points of Ugandan music. Ndawula, like Samuel Nsereko, says Masagazi was the epitome of class, professionalism and talent. The two men agree that this talent was embodied in Masagazi's greatest hit, Alululu


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