Hugh Masekela graces Isaiah Katumwa’s party

Friday May 15 2015

Isaiah Katumwa, left, and Hugh Masekela at the event in Kampala. PHOTO | MORGAN MBABAZI |

Legendary South African musician Hugh Masekela stole the show at a joint concert where Uganda’s saxophonist Isaiah Katumwa was also celebrating 20 years of his music career.

The 76-year old Masekela showed off his dancing skills, trumpet blowing prowess, sense of humour and sent out political messages that aroused the audience at the “Jazz It With Airtel” concert held at the Victoria Hall, Kampala Serena Hotel on May 8.

The jazz connoisseurs who parted with Ush150,000 ($49.8) for the concert were treated to Masekela’s energetic and vibrant Afro-Jazz sound and Katumwa’s more laid back soulful jazz, which he describes as “African, smooth and divine.”

Shifting between using his soprano and alto saxophones, Katumwa was the first act on stage with his band at 8:26pm and played his latest and yet to be released sings: Nzikiliza, Nakupenda Sana and Amaaso.

Katumwa, a self-taught saxophonist, played one of his popular hits Welcome with fellow local guest musicians Myko Ouma (acoustic guitar), Maureen Rutabingwa (saxophone), Maurice Kirya (vocals) and Charmant Mushaga (electric guitar). Even his 12-year old son Mitchel played his own gospel song on the piano.

Katumwa was among the curtain raiser acts during Masekela’s first concert at the Kampala Serena Hotel in September 2006 in aid of the Uganda Society for Disabled Children. So it was quite befitting for Katumwa to invite Masekela to celebrate this important milestone of his career.


Masekela joined Katumwa on stage to co-perform the saxophonist’s old song Maama. Prior to playing, Katumwa told the audience that when he wrote this song — that extols the beauty of the African continent — he had great Africans like Nelson Mandela and Masekela in mind.

“I never knew I would be on the same stage with Masekela. It’s a dream come true to have Masekela on stage with me,” he said. He also played his old material such as Sinza and Sun Rise.

Masekela expressed his happiness at his second trip to Uganda and thanked all those who have supported Katumwa in his music journey. “Besides, being a good musician, Isaiah has a generous heart,” he said.

Masekela asked his fans to stand up and dance and sing along to his favourite songs Grazin’ in the Grass, African Woman, Thanayi, Stimela, Khawuleza and Bring Home Nelson Mandela.

Before performing Bring Home Nelson Mandela he thanked Africa and Uganda in particular, for fighting apartheid in South Africa.

However, some of his fans were disappointed when he did not play his popular hits such as Market Place, Strawberries, The Boy’z doin it and No More Cryin.’

The concert, which was sponsored by Airtel, Pepsi, International University of East Africa, Radio One FM and Jazz FM ended at 11:00pm with Katumwa playing the crowds’ favourite, My Joy

Katumwa’s musical journey started at the Rev John Foundation Primary School in Kampala at the age of 10. He joined the school’s brass band while doing folk music on the side and taught himself how to play the saxophone while still in primary school. He later played for Waka Waka Band, Light Rays Band and Afri-Diamonds that became Diamond Productions.

In early 2002, Katumwa travelled to the United Kingdom to study sound engineering. He released his Sinza album in 2006 and he was hosted on BBC Focus on Africa programme. The much acclaimed Sinza catapulted him on to the international stage.

Katumwa has produced eight albums: Will Worship You (2001); Saxo Hymns (2002); We Three Kings (2003); Sax Worship (2004); Celebrate Africa (2005), Coming Home (2007) and African Smoothy (2011).