Richard Sewanyana

Group Information

We first travelled about an hour from Mukono to the village of Bamusuta B Kizimula to meet with Richard Ssewannyana. As we believe Musisi is the ‘last surviving’ royal drummer, we believe Richard is the last surviving royal flutist. Please, let’s be wrong here. We first interviewed Richard:

“I am Richard Ssewannyana, son of Paulino Kajubi, whos father was Buko Ssempiira. My village is Ndese, in sub-county Kasawo, of County Kyaggwe. My grandfather used to play the flute in the palace but he was aging and wanted a family member to continue to play. I tried to play with him all the time and learned a few songs. In 1966, I was taken to the palace as a servant boy. My father also wanted to play the flute and replace his father. But he tried to play and failed to learn. But he pretended to play at all performances, acting like he was blowing the flute while his band-mates played. My father was in the palace pretending to play the flute and desperate to replace my grandfather but time was running out.  

Over time, the other players realised he couldn’t play. So they asked him to lead the next song, to be the starter. But he failed. So they then asked him to play any song of any of the ones they had been playing since he joined the palace. And he couldn’t. And they were very mad because he had taken a salary as a player and they felt he was a robber.

So when my father realised he had been found out and that he wouldn’t replace his father there was a panic and a desire that I go to the palace to replace my grandfather. So I played in the place of my grandfather for about two months, but then there was suddenly chaos.”

Albert and Richard