Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Diamonds in the Rough: A Ugandan Hip Hop Revolution

Event Summary

A film screening of Diamonds in the Rough: A Ugandan Hip Revolution. This documentary screening, part of the first annual Washington, DC Hip Hop & Peacebuilding Festival, was followed by a question and answer session with featured hip hop artists Silas Balabyekkubo and Fredinah Peyton, and filmmaker Brett Mazurek. Diamonds in the Rough follows the efforts of a group of young African artists using the poetry of hip hop to share their message of peace.

Speakers: Silas Balabyekkubo, Featured Artist Fredinah F. Peyton aka Rah-P, Featured Artist Brett Mazurek, Director Moderated by: Msia Kibona Clark, Howard University, African Studies Introduction by: Betty Bigombe, Distinguished African Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Speaker Bios

Since gaining independence in 1960, Uganda has experienced decades of oppressive government, armed conflict, poverty, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Despite these trying circumstances, Uganda has begun to see the emergence of a youth-driven movement for change, as socially conscious hip hop gains popularity. Silas Balabyekkubo and Fredinah Peyton are two of many African and international artists now striving to produce more socially and politically conscious music and share it with the world. This was the subject of the documentary Diamonds in the Rough.

In her introduction, Betty Bigombe, who acted as chief mediator between the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army in addition to her years of government service in Uganda, commended hip hop as an innovative way to engage youth in conflict prevention, reiterating that young people are among the most affected by violent conflict. She talked about bringing soccer balls to camps in Northern Uganda, believing that games teach youth to perceive each other not as combatants but as teammates. Hip hop has potential to be similarly beneficial because of its strong appeal to young people.

Msia Kibona Clark opened the discussion, introducing Silas Balabyekkubo, a Ugandan hip hop artist and founder of the Bavubuka Foundation, which helps to create opportunities for youth in the arts and uses hip hop as a means of transforming lives and unifying communities; Fredinah Peyton, currently the most popular female hip hop artist in Uganda; and Brett Mazurek, who directed the film and produced some of the featured music.

Hip Hop and Language The Bataka Squad, the hip hop group co-created by Balabyekkubo and the cornerstone of the Bavubuka Foundation, distinguished itself early on with its creation of Lugaflow, a hip hop style using Luganda, the main local language of Uganda.

In the artists’ view, language affects the cultural relevance and impact of the music and helps to assert a regional footprint in greater African hip hop. Balabyekkubo explained that using the native language empowers young people and gives them a reason to be proud of their heritage, giving the example of his work in war-ravaged northern Uganda where he encouraged Acholi youth to rap in their native language rather than English. Clark commented that usage of local languages gives a sense of cultural importance which can inspire youth to be more positive and proactive. Peyton commented that rapping in English can actually detract from the effectiveness of their message to a domestic audience. When the older generation hears hip hop, they are more receptive if the language is their own. She noted it is not necessarily an avoidance of English. Rather, in her own music she flows in and out of different languages to express herself.

Read the article here.....


YOUTH LEADERS - Baobabconnections.org

Before the Bavubuka Foundation started working in Uganda, community-based dialogue for youth empowerment was non-existent. The foundation founded by Silas Babaluku introduced action-driven programs that encouraged youth to take responsibility for the issues in their communities. “We took the initiative of nurturing a new generation of young leaders in Uganda who will move forward with a strong sense of self-knowledge in order to create positive change in their communities and the world,” says Babaluku.

Babaluku describes his organization with five words - Knowledge, Power, Community, Inspiration and Revolution and he believes it is making change by giving a voice to voiceless young people. So far the foundation has a bunch of projects in its hands; the Bavubuka All*Starz Music Project, the Bavubuka Film & Media Projects, the Bavubuka Textiles Project, the Bavubuka Sports Project, and the Bavubuka Girls Project. “Through these initiatives we are creating avenues for young people to become educated, express themselves artistically, enhance their understanding of the world, and build global friendships,” he says.

Babaluku believes that the largest global issue facing Uganda and many African nations is the colonial-based system of education which systematically undermines the value of traditional African jobs. The colonial style education system conditions Africans to devalue the ways of living that their ancestors have been using for centuries, the danger is that the young generation in Uganda is quickly inheriting this system and therefore loosing out because it does not educate people in what is relevant to their daily existence. People need to know more about how to deal with day to day issues such as hunger, disease, self-determination and so on.

“The whole concept of a college degree or diploma certificate has devalued traditional African trades. Kids are trained to only pursue white collar jobs while discouraged to pursue and develop their natural talents. What you end up with is a generation of young people chasing dreams. Our youth need to be educated in a way that empowers themselves to focus on their potential and their talent so they can be activated to improve their communities,” stresses the conscious community activist.

With further funding, the Bavubuka Foundation’s next project would involve the creation of community centers in Uganda that will serve as a home base for all of their programs. In their mission to promote African pride and knowledge of self, they want young people to have a safe and uplifting environment where they can dialogue with other youth and acquire knowledge and skills that will help them address the issues in their communities.

With approximately 54% of its population under the age of 18, Uganda is in critical need of spaces and programs that offer alternative options to the youth. The Bavubuka Community Centers will have computer labs, art studios, sports gyms, dance and music recording studios, a library, a photography lab, a health clinic, a theatre, and a meditation sanctuary. They are actively fundraising to build their first community center which represents the overall vision of the Bavubuka Foundation.

Babaluku advises young people to trust in themselves and listen to their inner abilities and tells them to proceed confidently and always remember they are capable of making a difference in their life, in their community, and the world.

Links www.bavubuka.com www.myspace.com/bavubuka www.myspace.com/bavubukagirls www.myspace.com/bavubukasports

READ ARTICLE HERE.......... http://www.baobabconnections.org/competition/yourcity/conference/provisionalparticipants/?id=39&PHPSESSID=91c1b4deb3a00a1b100ec668c0ee2b52

Babaluku | LugaFlow | Bavubuka

Writing by phanyxx on Tuesday, 3 of June , 2008 at 7:18 pm

Uganda is a beautiful country that has had its share of problems over the years, but a small group of hip hop artists is looking to bring hope and change to the youth of Central Africa (and worldwide). Even though much of the urban music on African airwaves is dominated by American artists, the Lugaflow movement has been making waves with youngsters looking for music they can relate to. In fact, 50% of Uganda is under the age of 15 (that’s a big audience). Now, through hardwork and dedication, Lugaflow artists are quickly becoming the ambassadors of a nation in Washington D.C. and around the world.

Import Showoff recently caught up with a major force in the movement, Babaluku, to talk about his tireless work to benefit young people in Uganda:

[Import Showoff] This movement has been a long time in the making, and you’ve been all over the world spreading the word. Is it rewarding to Lugaflow finally getting the attention it deserves?

[Babaluku] Its definitely rewarding to see that Luga flow has went on to represent hip hop in Uganda as a movement for the people and also a tool for social change inspiring and motivating the youth to activate themselves as agents of change in there communities. The truth is that this dialogue of global hip hop has brought about a new understanding to the culture inspiring us to travel and share our stories with brothers and sister from all walks of life around the world so to see Luga Flow be apart of such a force it is really rewarding for the Ugandan youth who have rikindled their love for the Culture and tradition.

[Import Showoff] I’ve heard rumours that Ugandan artists are having a hard time getting play on African radio. Is there, or was there, a bias towards American hip hop on African radio?

[Babaluku] Of course radio play is always a major issue for uganda artist as the majority of the radio stations are most like to play western comercialized music before they spin any local hip hop, but we see that this is changing with the growth of the movement so we believe its just a matter of time for the movement to actaully have its own radio station ran by the youth so as visionariess as this could be a set back we also believe that the truth lies in the streets so we strongly make sure that the truth is spread in the places where the people are getting the messages……

[Import Showoff] Can you tell us a bit about the making of ‘Diamonds in the Rough”? Co-starring in the documentary must have been an exciting experience. [Babaluku] Diamonds in the rough was definitely a great experience. It was a journey that opened a lot of doors for the hip hop movement in Uganda. I mean being from the legendary crew as A Bataka Squad member I have experienced a series of events that were history making for the movement in Uganda throughout the making of DITR. This being a continuing journey, and I am just greatful to be able to share all these moments with the youth in uganda, and all over the world, empowering them to stand up for their truth to achieve their dreams. Every time I watch Diamonds in the Rough, I get instantly activated as the spirit behind it was just so pure and being apart of such raw truth just makes you appreciate life. So this experience definitely opened my eyes to the world through they eyes of all the young people I worked with and those I am still working with…..

It’s been a long journey for the Bavubuka Allstars, one that has brought them all over the world, and won them a shelf full of awards; however, Babaluku still remains humble and focused on the work ahead. You can find out more about the Lugaflow revolution, or become involved, by visiting the links below:

http://www.bavubuka.com http://www.myspace.com/lugaflowrevolution www.myspace.com/bataka http://www.beautifulstruggle.ca

READ THE ARTICLE HERE!!!!! http://www.importshowoff.ca/wordpress/?p=151

End Of the Weak MC Challenge Uganda

My journey to East Africa, in the name of End of the Weak, was to learn about Hip Hop in Uganda

The Ugandan-born but North American based artists I was going to see, Babaluku Smith and Saba Saba, are the founding fathers of Luga Flow, the UG influenced style of Hip Hop music. Babaluku established Spoken Truth, a weekly open mic at Rouge, an international club in Kampala. Amateur and established artists come through every week to speak about their lives, love or the sate of the world. While I was there, they had a freestyle specific night, which was when I scouted the most prolific emcees to bring together for the EOW MC Challenge. Baba was gracious to let me use his Spoken Truth platform to give the MC Challenge a trial run. After presenting the MC Challenge idea to Baba and Stef, the UK producer I chose to host the Challenge, they supported the theory, but had doubts about the turnout of the English versus Luga Flow rappers. It was under assumption the English MC�s would not come through to face the Luga Flow competitors and they proved Baba right. I said if the English-only rappers did not show then it would be obvious who the new face of UG Hip Hop is�and they proved me right. There was one emcee that flowed in English and although I understood his words, he lacked the conviction and energy required to be an MC Champion. Despite not speaking Luganda, I was able to evaluate the 13 contestants according to their stage presence, delivery, and the crowd response, and as it turns out, laughter is Universal. The initial round started with 13 contestants that included a few familiar rappers and acquaintances to fresh faces that heard about the Challenge from others. We had a one minute freestyle round that narrowed the pool to five emcees, according to crowd response. Due to time constraints, (this was possibly the fastest MC Challenge ever run) the Challenge was reduced to three out of five rounds. The five artists that displayed their skills during the a cappella round, the beat juggling round and the cipher proved that Hip Hop is clearly alive in UG and hungry for more. The emcees gave it hell, with Uncle 33, the prot�g�, Ugly a proficient freestyler, and Vim Cage, the aspiring MC, taking the top three places. Uncle 33 and Vim Cage are young emcees training under Babaluku�s Bavubuka (youth) Foundation, which encourages a positive message conveyed through the Luga Flow style. Ugly is a veteran on the UG scene and a favorite among the audience. Their ambition and motivation affirm their position in the evolution of UG Hip Hop. Stef and DJ Apeman, UK transplants back in Kampala, hosted with comical energy and kept the beats fresh like a proper team. Kampala has a beautiful and persevering atmosphere, ready for a revolution driven by music. Some artists are hungry for recognition, some artists are just hungry, but they stand together as the building blocks for the future of Hip Hop and music culture in Uganda. The introduction of End of the Weak�s MC Challenge is a stepping stone for those who keep the art of emceeing moving forward. As a global Hip Hop movement, End of the Weak continues to grow stronger with the addition of EOW East Africa.

By: Amy Hume

CHECK THE ARTICLE HERE!! http://www.eodub.com/news/articles/article/212.html

2008 BEST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY (Peace On Earth FIlm Festival)

Peace On Earth Film Festival (POEFF) is a not-for-profit film festival established to celebrate and encourage the work of independent films from around the world on the themes of peace and nonviolence. Through the power of motion pictures, POEFF endeavors to enlighten and empower individuals, families and communities to step out of the ignorance of conflict, violence and divisiveness into the light of communication, compassion and understanding.


From the ashes of 4 decade of war, AIDS and corruption in Uganda, Africa, The Bataka Squad artists, Babaluku and Saba Saba, rise to forge a revolutionary path using music. They are on a mission to empower the forgotten youth of Africa from within, while spreading their message of hope around the globe. Narrated by Spearhead singer Michael Franti, follow the Bataka movement to amplify the spirit of the next generation in this musical journey. It only takes one voice to raise a nation.


Anchorage International Film Festival

SummaryGallery Synopsis

Diamonds in the Rough is a feature-length documentary which follows a group of young rappers in Uganda as they use hip hop to spread awareness of the political and social troubles engulfing their country, and to bring about positive change. Silas and Krazy Native are the two members of the Bataka Squad, Uganda???s first major hip hop group to rap in their native language. Silas???s family was forced to flee to Canada when he was twelve, with his father subsequently falling victim to politically motivated murder. During Silas???s exile, Krazy Native rose to become one of Uganda???s most successful contemporary hip hop artists. We follow as Silas returns to his homeland to set up a charity foundation for young people living in Uganda???s ghettos, and see Silas and Krazy reunited for the first time in ten years. Their journey takes us from the riot-torn streets of the capital, Kampala, to the smallest villages in the countryside; from the Pearl of Africa Music Awards to the Global African Hip Hop Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa; and finally it brings us back across the Atlantic as Silas and Krazy bring their music and their message to the United States. On the way we meet a host of other young rappers tackling subjects ranging from genocide to AIDS in their music, as they try to give back to the community. Hip hop is the voice of a generation, and it is uniting the young people of the world.

Forms: Documentary Genres: Musical, Human Rights, Independent, Road Trip, War, Urban, Hip Hop Niches: African Screenings & Events

Pan African Film Festival Film Festival Los Angeles, U S A April 2008 San Francisco Black Film Festival Film Festival San Francisco, U S A June 2008 Dances With Films Film Festival Awards: Audience Award Documentary Los Angeles, U S A July 2008 Peace On Earth Film Festival Awards: Best Feature Documentary Chicago, U S A August 2008 Big Bear Lake International Film Festival Big Bear, U S A September 2008


Hip-hop culture on the rise (Daily Monitor)


FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME: Hip-hop is not just about the rap music. It is a way of life - the way people speak, the way they walk and what they wear. It is a way of expression and the youth have embraced the lifestyle that started as a language used by oppressed people to express themselves. Hip-hop in the mind of many Ugandans refers to rap music. To the average Ugandan, hip-hop is the music done by the likes of Klear Kut, Lyrical G, St. CA and Krazy Native. Few people however know that hip-hop is a culture and it's not just about the rap music. The hip-hop culture in Uganda is bigger than many will realise and it is growing, albeit stealthily.

For a culture that has a strong American feel, Ugandan hip-hop presents questions as to how it has survived and the frequently strange light it is portrayed in. The culture which originally had different arms; deejaying (emceeing or rap), graffiti, and b-boying or break dance is holding its own in Uganda, with good representation in the wider extensions of fashion, language and mindset.

Born and bred overseas, hip-hop could be one of the few genuine societal changers for its tenacity in staying on even in the face of all the difficulties and ignorance that surrounds it. Hip-hop music, the one aspect that many Ugandans claim to understand, has been around for many years but the distrust and puzzlement we hold for it was exposed when during the 2004 Pearl of Africa Music Awards, the top hip-hop prize went to Obsessions, a group that does not do hip-hop. During the selections for the awards, when the media was called in to make the selections, there were many scribes who were heard asking what hip-hop is.

Uganda has made this a truly indigenous art with the likes of rappers who perform in local languages. One of the very first groups to do this was Bataka Underground, an urban outfit whose members pioneered Luganda rap, now called Lugaflow.

They included Babaluku (in Canada), Shillingz, Krazy Native, Momo Mc and Lyrical G. Krazy Native's Tujjabbaabya came before his other scorcher, Wansi Waggulu. Babaluku has stayed true to his roots. He features on Lyrical G's latest album, Narudi on the track, Art of War.

Hip hop's generals are not sleeping. There are those who are discouraged and letting their work slip, having given up hope that someday, they will be accorded their due respect. There are those who have since left the "industry" and gone into other pursuits. But the fact is that this culture is far deeply ingrained in Ugandan society, like many other African societies, that talk of running away from it is a dream.

2005 PAM award winner for the top hip-hop prize, Lyrical G is one of the prisoners of this culture. For him, rap is so important that even with the complaints he has against the musical mainstream in Uganda, there is no alternative.

"That award changed nothing," he says when asked what has changed for him and for hip-hop since his triumph. "There is no financial gain and it seems like we just went back to business as usual when the lights faded." He is shirtless at his home in the middle of the day. So why does he stay in the game if it is as ungrateful as he says? "I'm not in this for just the money," Lyrical G is quoted in an earlier interview before he won anything. But he says he can never compromise his style.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE...... http://www.monitor.co.ug/artman/publish/its_friday/Hip-hop_culture_on_the_rise_21749.shtml

Bataka Squad on a hip -hop revolution


Not many Ugandan musicians find the nerve to venture into Hip-Hop music, but the Bataka Squad will not rest until the music genre (luga flow) is engraved on the local music scene.

The duo (Alex Kirya formerly known as Krazy Native) and Babaluku (Balabyekubo Silas) featuring Sarah Tshilla are out with a new 21 song album, Bataka Revolution.

Whereas most of the songs on this album sound fresh from the studio, they were written in 2005. Little wonder though, this has always been their style- working ahead of time. "You will be surprised but we have already written the music that we shall be producing in 2008," says Saba Saba.

The album is a touch from reputable producers like Infin8 from Audio Minds in Canada, Sweden-based Kado, New York's Jeremiah, Belgium's DJ Glue, Uganda's GK, and Makem Def Wanlov from Ghana.

HIP HOP LOYALISTS: Even when radio stations won’t play their music, Krazy Native (left) and Bababluku will not change their style.

With most of the songs revolving around pertinent issues like politics, religion, land and drugs, the album serves as a voice for the oppressed and a medium of communication for the youth.

The mode of expression employed here however, is hostile and whether this music will successfully find its way into Uganda's music industry, whose songs are usually of a low mode of self expression- lies in doubt.

"This is who we are; hip-hop is the way of expression. We express ourselves the way we feel, and the situation in which we are," says Saba Saba.

The most outstanding and catchy song on the album is Mbabuze, a song which leaves so many unanswered questions on the listener's mind.

Some of the questions posed in this song include; why the Aids cure has taken long to be found Why the whites brought Aids and Ebola into Africa, Why the government chases people off their land and so many other provocative but inspiring questions. Other songs include Kakotinge, New Kats, Tu koona, Babuze, Amawulire Kyandanda, UG revolution and others.

In most of the songs, you can't help but admire the Missy Elliot-like rapper (Tshilla), and because of her energetic and sensational voice, regardless of your taste you will find yourself rewinding the music.

Tukakotinge for its catchy piano loop and the easy flow sounds good to the ears. The song was inspired when the two were in the studio recording one of their songs.

"We were doing a song in the studio and the producer wanted us to sugarcoat the music like other artistes do, but we insisted. We told him we don't do things the way other people do. We wanted better creativity."

Abagenze (The departed), is an engaging and sad depiction of HIV/Aids orphans who are struggling with life in vain.

Tukoye Eno Embeera (tired of this situation), is a mid tempo and guitar-backed track where the squad wonders when Ugandans will escape the jaws of poverty and disease.

Tufa Enjala (we are dying of hunger), is a fusion of traditional Congolese sounds with contemporary hip-hop beats. This song combined with the smooth vocal delivery of Tshilla, the rapid-fire rap delivery of Saba Saba and Babaluku is a must listen.

However regardless of the impact this music might have on society especially the youth, Saba Saba says that the local radio stations are still reluctant to play their music, "Radio stations have taken long to appreciate our music. The corporate industry also has refused to take us on, yet our music is a link to the youth," he says. He boasts however of the audience they have built abroad in countries where their music has began to be appreciated.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE ....... http://www.monitor.co.ug/artman/publish/its_friday/Bataka_Squad_on_a_hip_-hop_revolution_59655.shtml

Babaluku keepin’ it real (DAILY MONITOR)

NOT JUST MAKING UP NUMBERS: At just 27, Babaluku has the world at his feet. Not even his long stay in Canada has made him forget his Ugandan roots. Him and a host of other lads have introduced the Lugaflow flavour or Ugandan rap It's not a rarity for African-Americans to dominate the hip-hop platform. Even when Hollywood has a role for a hip-hop artiste, it will most probably be an African-American.

Rarely is it anyone from Uganda. Well, for one Canadian-based Ugandan, last year was simply exceptional, as he took hip-hop genre to another level with performances in Hollywood, California.

The preacher's son became the first Ugandan to take native Luganda rap to Hollywood platforms, along with friends Tshila and Crazy Native, brother to re-known artistes Vamposs and Maurice Kirya.

Clad in camouflage shorts, a long T-shirt and hair tied in two neat ponytails, Silas Balabyekkubo spots an appealing aura of simplicity, evident even in his musical lyrics. Born in September 1979, Silas, also known as Babaluku (stage name) is the first born of the eight children of reknown evangelist Deo Balabyekkubo (RIP) and Christine Balabyekkubo.

"I had a normal childhood," Silas narrates. "I worked on my grandfather's farm and played all the funny games with my friends while we lived in Makindye." He admits that he appreciates his childhood so much, since most of his childhood memories revolve around music.

At a time when he had almost started accomplishing what he thought was his dream, Silas' family decided to relocate to Canada. For him, it turned out tobe a nightmare especially when he faced racism and was discriminated against.

"I always wished I could attend the same school back here in Uganda with my friends and I always thought, if I got an opportunity to come back, I would have to bring some thing back for my friends".

Before he was 12, Silas had already realised his destiny. It all started back at home in Makindye, when he turned his bedroom into a hip-hop 'Dungeon'. Using his father's church equipment, he collected all the children in the neighbourhood into his room.

Out of it came the legendary crew Bataka Squad that consisted of most of Uganda's top music artistes like Vamposs and Benon, Peter Miles, Chagga, Maurice Kirya, Krayzie Native, and Lyrical G.

What now remains of the whole lot is Krayzie Native, Silas and Tshila, the latter, as the only and first female artiste in the group. On his face is an un-believing smile as he lands back in the present, which is understandable, looking at how far he has come. He is cautious and thoughtful, one can almost see his mind mulling over what he finally says, and for him it has been one long journey with one dream.

"My dream is to make music which carries a positive message, music that will bring about a positive change in this generation," Silas intimates. "I treat my music just the way my dad treated his ministry, preaching the same gospel, only in a different way. My dad was a peoples' person, always doing whatever he did to give back to the community".

"Since I cannot be like my father, I have had to build my own identity, although I reflect my father in everything I do. I chose music because I had the passion for it. I love Hip-Hop. When you love something, you go after it. That's what my group and I are here to do - to rise with our generation, not to seek fame, because we love what we do, and we put in a lot of effort so as to have others come up with us," he goes on to explain.

Originality is an aspect everyone who listens to Silas' music will come to appreciate. "We do not have to mimic other people when we have our own rich heritage" he emphasises. Silas and his crew do Luganda rap which they have christened Lugaflow flavour.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE.......HERE http://www.monitor.co.ug/artman/publish/its_friday/Babaluku_keepin_it_real_40808.shtml

Hip-hop revisited; music with a purpose (DAILY MONITOR) UGANDA


Once again, I prepared to hear the familiar story of hip-hop’s tale of success from the ghettos of the broken, shattered and poor African community, to the platforms of Los Angeles.

When I looked at Silas Balabyekubo aka Babaluku, I almost thought I could tell his story without ever having to come home. One thought of Bebe Cool, Bobi Wine, Klear Cut, Grace Nakimera, Juliana Kanyomozi, Irene Namubiru, Chameleone, I knew this was another addition to the happy family that has continuously fed me on a recycle of Sade, Whitney Houston, Alicia keys and other international artistes’ talent specially made in Uganda.

Born to renowned Pastor Rip Deo and Christine Balabyekubo, 27-year-old Babaluku is one of the members of Ugandan hip-hop group Bataka Squad, known for the best 2007 hip-hop single Utake Anthem.

He is also the president of Bavubuka All Star’s Foundation, a project he formed to connect youth with music and avail the art to nurture and empower a new generation of young leaders in Uganda and Africa - those who will move forward with a strong sense of self- knowledge in order to create a positive change in their communities.

He talks with such energy, emphasising each point one would mistake him for one of Africa’s past revolutionaries. The intensity with which he delivers each word has now pressed me onto the seat I had planned to leave an hour ago, listening closely in an interview that has now changed from music to a discussion of world affairs.

This year, Silas and the Bataka Squad premiered a documentary Diamonds in the Rough, A Ugandan hip hop revolution at the world hip-hop and peace building festival in Washington DC, which was opened by Betty Bigombe - once chief mediator in the LRA peace talks in Uganda and now a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for scholars.

“It is an innovative way to engage youth in conflict prevention and reiteration since young people are among the most affected by violent conflict,” Bigombe said in support of the new Ugandan hip-hop revolution as she launched the documentary for public viewing.

As Silas and his international team relocate to Uganda from their home in Vancouver for the next five months, they are here to affirm the mission of the Bavubuka Foundation in five projects that will involve special emphasis on film, media, music, textile, girls, and sports. “Through these initiatives, we are creating avenues for young people to become educated, express themselves artistically, enhance their understanding of the world, and build global friendship,” Balabyekubo said.

The group will sum up their visit with a three day international and national hip-hop summit, the first of its kind and expected to attract hip-hop artistes from all over the world.

As we walk out of the restaurant where we have been for the last four hours, he says hullo to the boda-boda riders across the street and there are continuous interruptions in our conversation from all sorts of people around, screaming his praises and swearing he is the next big thing. Some are strangers that he hugs; others are hardcore fans of his Luganda hip-hop known as luga-flow.

I am more baffled by Silas Balabyekubo than Babaluku the muscician. I see his unique concept for the Ugandan youth and open mindedness in as far as a lot of society issues are concerned as a cut through to society which will bind the up-town hip-hop music lover with the ghetto orphan youth that he plans to reach out to through the foundation.

As we part, I can’t help but wish a few more Ugandan musicians would match up, pick a leaf, or at least step up their game.

life4: Silas Balabyekubo aka Babaluku