Achilla Orru

By music Uganda Reporter

Achilla Orru, a blind, Ugandan-born musician is a master of the lokembe, or thumb piano, and is regularly heard on CBC Radio. During a recent visit to Uganda, Achilla was awarded the title of "King of the Lukembé". Currently based in Toronto, Canada, Achilla has developed an international reputation for his kalimba (lukembé) playing.

When he attended the Madera special school for the blind in Soroti Teso in the early seventies, his extraordinary musical talent was recognized and developed. It was during this period that his love for with traditional thumb piano was discovered.

A little instrument like a thumb piano changed the life of this yet to be great musician and he later became able to make it speak in 'many languages'. After winning the Junior award for his skill in the playing the instrument, he broke the tradition of having the lokembe predominantly played by males when he presented 12 girl students of Barkley High School from Iganga playing the lokembe. They were the best in that category.

In Canada, he put together a group called Achilla Orru and Baana Africa. The group has performed widely in Canada and is a favorite for charitable events. Among the members of the band is Godfrey Sejikoba who is described as a 'true bass player' He has been playing instruments since he was in high school back in Uganda and has been part of many bands in Uganda and England. Sejikoba was formally with the famous Mixed Talents. He has also toured many areas in the great lakes region of Eastern Africa like Kenya, Rwanda and others.

His, Te-kwarro is is dedicated to the elders and the clan leaders (Edongo) who have done very well and great things for the people of Ethurr (Labwor). It praises the cultural traditions, ways and cuisines including courtship, leadership, conflict resolution, and the spirit of pulling together in times of need and celebration

Christian Carver (Director - African Musical Instruments, makers of the Original Hugh Tracey Kalimbas), in his review of 'Te-kwarro states, "My small experience of the music of Uganda has been in choral music, in xylophone and harp music, some end blown flute, and in drumming. I had heard of the Kalimba (or Lokembe) bands, but had not experienced them first hand.

Achilla captures for me the ambience of central Africa - vibrancy, energy, colour, humor, open space. I particularly like the track he has called 'The Hero's Praises' , which transports me instantly to a bus trip from Kampala to Kasese in Uganda, where similar music was always played over the speakers, and the lush green landscape flowed past the outside, while all of life carried on around you on the inside. During a brief tour with a Ugandan choir in the U.K. music like this was our anchor to home".

He had a CD Release Party on May 29 2004 Glenn Gould Studio, CBC Building where his new CD Dho-Mach (Sacred Gift) was available for purchase.

You can visit his official website at

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