ba Uganda' get Grammy nimination
By MusicUganda reporter
you thought we were going to wait for centuries for Ugandans to
be nominated for the Grammy’s, you were wrong ‘cause ‘Abayudaya
ba Uganda’ have received a nomination in the 47th Grammy Awards
in the category of Traditional World Music.
The nominations have been made public by world press agencies
and the ‘Abayudaya’ have also been listed on the official list
of nominees on the Grammy Awards website.
The album ‘Abayudaya - Music From The Jewish People Of Uganda’
released by Smithsonian Folkways is a compilation by Jeffrey A.
Summit. An accomplished musician in his own right, Summit does
not perform on the album. Rather, he recorded, compiled and
annotated the music of the Abayudaya people. As producer, he is
the sole nominee for the album. Also in the same category is
‘Lady Smith Black Mambazo’ with ‘Raise your spirit higher’.
Summit describes the album as an “incredible blend of Jewish
liturgy and African choral singing, Afro-pop and traditional
What is the history of the ‘Abayudaya ba Uganda’? They are a
group numbering about 600 that have been practicing Judaism
since 1919 when their traditional leader Semei Kakungulu, who
was a renowned Muganda military leader was converted to the
faith. Summit established initial contact with this group of
people in Mbale, a remote part of eastern Uganda when he came
out to do research on them. They were very excited when Summit
broke the news about their nomination to them.
was an agent of the British colonial masters whose role was to
expand British influence in the early 1900s in eastern Uganda.
He however later fell out with his masters when he joined the
Malachites who the British believed were a cult because they
combined Christianity, Judaism and Christian Science and later
rewrote the bible to make the Malachite bible.
In 1919, Kakungulu was fully converted to Judaism and had he and
his sons circumcised. He moved to the foot of Mt. Elgon and
declared his community a Jewish community. He had a dream of
building a big Synagogue but he didn’t live to see this happen
in his lifetime.
After his death, his Jewish community was divided into two as
some of the followers retained the worship of Jesus whereas the
others declared themselves Jews. The Jew’s community later
reached out to Israel in the 1960s and 1970s and even had the
first secretary of the Israeli embassy in Uganda visit them.
This was what gave them contact with people such as Summit and
their traditional recordings that he compiled have put them on
the world map.