Ugandans shine at the NAACP awards

Saturday January 27 2018

British actor Daniel Kaluuya and Laura Kabasomi Kakoma aka Somi.

Western born Ugandans: British actor Daniel Kaluuya won for his starring role in Get Out. Right, Laura Kabasomi Kakoma aka Somi won for her jazz album Petite Afrique at the 49th NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena, Carlifornia on January 15, 2018. PHOTO | MATT WINKELMEYER | AFP 

By BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI
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Two artistes of Ugandan descent, Daniel Kaluuya and Laura Kabasomi Kakoma aka Somi, have won accolades at the 49th National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) Image Awards that were held on January 14 at the Pasadena Conference Centre in Los Angeles, US.

Kaluuya won the 2018 Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture award for his leading role in the horror comedy film Get Out.

Somi, an acclaimed jazz singer won the Outstanding Jazz Album of the Year for her Petite Afrique (Little Africa). The album was released by Sony Music/OKeh in 2017.

Get Out is about a young African-American Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) meeting with his white girlfriend’s parents for a weekend in their secluded estate in the woods, but before long, the friendly and polite ambience gives way to a nightmare.

At the girlfriend’s home, the parents, neurosurgeon Dean and psychiatrist/hypnotherapist Missy, and her brother Jeremy make discomfiting comments about black people. Chris notices that the black housekeeper Georgina and groundskeeper Walter are uncannily compliant and act strangely.

Get Out tackles the realities of racism in the US and the lack of attention for missing African Americans compared with missing white females.

“I don’t think you’re allowed to beat Denzel Washington in acting competitions,” said Kaluuya, who bested Washington for the prize. In his acceptance speech, the 28-year-old actor thanked his mother, friends and Get Out writer-director Jordan Peele.

He said: “I’m here because of love. Mum, thank you for helping me be a man. I feel very appreciative of my mum, my girl, my family and my friends.”

“So many people didn’t believe in me, and you did, and you made all of us feel included,” Kaluuya said. “Thank you so much for letting us be seen.”

Get Out has received numerous accolades. It earned five nominations at the 23rd Critics’ Choice Awards, two at the 75th Golden Globe Awards (Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy and Best Actor — Comedy or Musical for Kaluuya) and two at the 71st British Academy Film Awards (Best Actor in a Leading Role for Kaluuya and Best Original Screenplay).

Kaluuya is an actor and writer. He was born on February 24, 1989 in London to Ugandan parents. He was raised by his mother, Damalie Namusoke, on a council estate, along with an older sister. He lives in West London with his girlfriend.

Kaluuya wrote his first play at the age of nine, after which he began his career as a teenage performer, doing improvisational theatre.

He later appeared in the first two seasons of the British television series Skins, which he also co-wrote. Playing the lead role in Sucker Punch at the Royal Court Theatre in London, Kaluuya received rave reviews for his performance and won both the Evening Standard Award and Critics’ Circle Theatre Award for Outstanding Newcomer.

He has appeared in several theatre, television and film productions. He achieved international recognition for his performance in Get Out.

Little Africa

Somi’s Petite Afrique is a song cycle about the large West African immigrant community in Harlem, New York City in the face of rapid gentrification. It features special guest Aloe Blacc.

Reacting to this achievement, Somi posted on her Instagram: “Thank you to NAACP Image Awards, my co-producers Keith Witty and Etienne Charles, and all the beautiful musicians who played on the album. In my speech, I dedicated the award to my wonderful parents who sacrificed so much to give me so much. I am so grateful for this moment and deeply humbled.”

Somi was born to Rwandan and Ugandan parents on June 6, 1981, in Champaign, Illinois, US. At the time, her father, the late Dr Ibalaimu Kakoma was completing his post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois.

Somi, a singer-songwriter, musician and producer has been on the music scene since 1998 building a career of Trans-Atlantic sonicism and storytelling. She is a vocalist and plays the cello.

She has six albums to her credit: Eternal Motive (2003), Red Soil in My Eyes (2007), If The Rain Comes First (2009), Somi: Live at Jazz Standard (2011), The Lagos Music Salon (2014), and Petite Afrique (2017).

Somi and her band tour and perform at international venues and stages around the world.

She currently spends her time between Nigeria and the United States, living in Lagos and New York City.

Other notable winners were: Ava DuVernay (Entertainer of the Year), Girls Trip (Outstanding Motion Picture of the Year), Octavia Spencer (Best Actress in A Motion Picture for Gifted), Power (Best Drama Series) and Omari Hardwick (Best Dramatic Actor), among others.

The prestigious multicultural NAACP Image Awards celebrate the accomplishments of people of colour in the fields of television, music, literature and film, and also honours individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavours in the US.