We have received wonderful news from Singing Wells partner Prof. James Isabirye that he and the rest of the Entenga players performed for the second time at the coronation anniversary of King Ronald Mutebi.
We were first introduced to the Entenga drums in 2015 and have since been supporting James in an initiative to revive the drums and teach younger musicians how to play them (read the field reports here or watch our documentary for more information of this project).
The Entenga players were mentioned in the king’s speech, which James translated for us as:
“… I would like to thank especially those who played instruments of the palace, and in particular – Abatenga (Entenga players). I remember when I was young abatenga were there. They (referring to us) have played exactly like those who used to play at that time…”
The players were then invited to shake hands with the king, and upon learning that James knew ethnomusicologist Peter Cooke, the king invited them to the palace to perform. They performed the song “Ganga alula”, a version of which we recorded during our visit in 2016. James played the Kyawakati and Entemyo, John Ssempeke played the Nakawombe and the younger boys played the rest of the drums.
This is a wonderful story for the Entenga players, and it is really encouraging to know that the king continues to support the group so new musicians can thrive.
Update: The Entenga players have since performed again in front of the king at the opening ceremony of the 25th Buganda parliamentary session.