Buganda Royal Music Revival on Nyege Nyege Tapes

Various - Buganda Royal Music Revival


  • $30.00

From its founding in the late 14th century, the kingdom of Buganda has been celebrated through sound and nurtured a rich musical tradition in its royal court. Coming from across the kingdom, musicians would take turns in the palace to sound drums, xylophones, flutes, lyres, and more to praise and honour the existence of the kingship. In recent years however, the tradition has been more difficult to maintain, especially since 1966 where there was a violent attack on the palace that abruptly abolished the kingdom and during which royal musicians fled or were killed. And while the kingdom was re-established in 1993 as a cultural institution, many of the remaining musicians had since chosen to sideline their skills to deal with the issues of their day to day lives, the practice of the royal tradition waning in popularity, especially with younger listeners and players. 
But all is not lost. Scattered across the kingdom, a motivated team of older veterans and attentive young players are still keeping the tradition alive. Offering a transversal glimpse into the past and the present, Buganda Royal Music Revival collects recordings made in between the late 1940s and 1966 illustrating the older generation’s skills, and presents them alongside recent recordings featuring old and young musicians who still carry on this musical tradition, some even performing for the current king, Muwenda Mutebi II. The later were made during the shooting of the 2019 documentary Buganda Royal Music Revival that presents through a film what this album conveys through sounds: a packed dive into a century-old tradition. 
The music displayed here is diverse and vibrant, presenting a variety of styles and highlighting instruments that illustrate the depth and sophistication that stemmed from the royal court experience of Buganda. As a starter, the album opens with 'Mujaguzo'. Often translated as ‘The Drums of the Kingship’, the mujaguzo is a crucial ensemble for the cultural tradition, made from drums collected by the kingdom throughout its long history and numbering around 100 drums (historical records suggest there were at some point over 300). They are the vitality of the kingship packaged into sound. From here, we're introduced deeper to an array of instruments and textures, like the buzzing Bugandan lyre (endongo) by contemporary royal player Albert Bisaso Ssempeke, the resonant akadinda xylophone with its twenty-one large wooden keys, Temutewo Mukasa's restless praise sung with his harp (ennanga), the hand-made gourd trumpet (amakondere), the entenga "drum-chime" and its core set of twelve drums tuned like the amadinda xylophone, or the tightly intertwined melodies of the flutes ensemble (abalere). With the music, the hissing and swishing sounds of old tapes reminds at times the listener of the long process, from the original recording to its archival digitisation, that allows the talent of past musicians to still vibrate nowadays. 
This rousing selection of music and moods is a unique and all too rare exploration of sounds that celebrates the common history of generations of musicians, and the question remains open as to how this rich cultural tradition will shape and be shaped by the upcoming Bugandan future, and what engagement it will trigger among audiences within, but also beyond, the kingdom of Buganda. 



  1. Unidentified members of the royal drums ensemble (mujaguzo) - Mujaguzo (Celebration) 
  2. Erusana Lutwana & Budo African Music Club - Ffe basajja ba Kabaka (We are the King's men) 
  3. Albert Bisaso Ssempeke & band as the lyres, fiddles, and drums ensemble (abadongo) - Akasozi Bamunanika keyagaza (The hill of Bamunanika gives pride) 
  4. Kopolyano Kyobe & band as the xylophone and drums ensemble (abantamiivu) - Ssematimba ne Kikwabanga (Ssematimba and Kikwabanga) 
  5. Unidentified members of the royal flutes and drums ensemble (abalere) - Akwana omwami tagayala (A new tenant of a chief cannot be lazy) 
  6. Evaristo Muyinda - Ssewasswa, kazala balongo (Ssewasswa, father of the twins) 
  7. Maria Nanemba Muyinda - Twaliraana mayumba, emmeeme tezaalirana (Our houses are next to each other, but not our souls) 
  8. Evaristo Muyinda - Twabonabona (We suffered) 
  9. Unidentified members of the royal trumpets band (abakondere) - Bagabye Mukwenda ,owange talina nnaku (They have served  Mukwenda, mine doesn't have sorrow) 
  10. Kalema Hassan Katipa & band - Bya nanyinimu (They belong to the owner) 
  11. Unidentified members of the royal big xylophone ensemble (abakadinda) - Bandaba okulya ettooke, bampita mulamu ddala (They see me eat a banana meal, they think I am healthy) 
  12. Temutewo Mukasa, royal harpist (omulanga) - Okwagala omulungi kwesengereza (Loving the beautiful one is to be careful) 
  13. Unidentified members of the royal drum-chime ensemble (abatenga) - Kifwe kze kya 
  14. Semuwemba George William - Kubikira amadinda (Announcing death to the xylophone) 
  15. Semuwemba George William & Sekindi John - Emirembe ngalo (Generations are like fingers, each one is different) 
  16. Albert Ssempeke - Omusango gw’abalere (The case of the flutists) 
  17. John Ssempeke & Sebuufu Steven - Osiibye otya nno? (How has your day been) 


  • Limited pressing of 500 copies 






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