|Children of Uganda|
The Children of Uganda bring the lyrical and electric drumming traditions of Uganda to the world. The group, made up of musicians who have lost their parents to the HIV epidemic in the country bring a heartwarming message of hope and triumph in opposition to the difficulty the country has faced in the face of hardship.
Ugandan drums (Engoma) come in many shapes and sizes but share a similar construction, goat hide bound over a conical wooden shape with the tops and bottoms both serving as percussive surfaces when played with the hands. When played with sticks, as the largest usually are, the style is regular and intense and bears similarities to the drumming of neighboring Burundi. (Indeed as the MC will inform you there is certain songs and dances shared between the people of Uganda, Congo and Burundi.
Pictured above, the ensemble plays the largest of the Engoma called the Bakisimba. Smaller versions of the drum are Empuunya if they are two to three feet tall and Nankasa if they are only one foot tall.
A soloist occasionally performed solos on the Engalabi, a narrow columnar drum with a reptile-skin head with a sharp high tone.
One of the most mesmerizing segments of the performance was four-person jam session on a massive wooden xylophone called an Embaire rolled out on wheels to the middle of the stage. Ensemble beating on the wooden slats kept them leaping off the frame with others standing by to fix the instrument as it was barraged by the musicians. The result was a symphony of warm harmonious tones singing from the resounding tubes below.
The Children of Uganda provide a stunning insight into a rare-to-see drumming tradition as well as giving the audience an endearing reminder of the great loss the country suffers at the ravages of disease. Visit the link below to learn about upcoming performances, Uganda and the plight of the country's people and art.
Children of Uganda Website