The Impala Band

By Music Uganda reporter

Impala is a UK based Ugandan band that has regular gigs at Eagle and Child in Forest Gate, East London every first and third Friday of the month starting from 8:00 pm till late and at The Classic Club in Tooting Bec, South London . An Impala is an animal that is common in the savannas plains all the way from Kenya to South Africa and this is how they prefer to describe themselves because it is a word that is familiar to people from all over the region.

In a review on The BBC Radio 3's ‘World on your street', Joseph Nsubuga, the band leader remembers his high school days and the various school bands which all the top schools in Uganda had. In those days, there was no disco and live music was the only way to go. Joseph, like his grandfather was such a good musician that he started trading his art at the Suzaana Nightclub, which was one of the top nightspots in Kampala in the late seventies.

He was so good that Suzaana eventually started paying him a salary for his services. He later abandoned his academics and joined their band full time. He is now in the UK where he and his wife Betty, who's also a singer. She has always loved music and wanted to be a classical singer right from her school days but lacked support. Together with their band Impala, they bring back memories when hey enchant Ugandan, African and Asian crowds.

Their crowd at Eagle and Child comprises mainly of Ugandan but they also have many Angolans, Nigerians, South Africans and others who come to watch them.

One day as they were practicing their music at home, one of their Asian neighbors, who was actually from the Asian community that was expelled from Uganda unceremoniously when Idi Amin gave them 90 days to leave, heard their Swahili and immediately picked interest in their work.

He encouraged them to try our a few Bollywood tunes and they managed successfully. The advantage they had was that there were many Ugandan Asians in the UK and these became instant fans and clients. Yes, the Nsubugas can sing in Hindi, something that they never imagined possible and they also perform to all-Asian audience these days. They do weddings, parties and other cultural functions. They have also performed at the Womad and Edinburgh festivals and featured at the Ugandan Music Awards (UK) in 2003.

Some of their best songs are Byaffe, Keti, Nze Nkusimye, Emirembe Ngalo, among others. They fuse traditional Kiganda music concepts with modern instruments at times and the blend is contemporary but with an undisputable Ugandan touch. You will be able to read reviews and listen to their music on their official website

www.impala.co.uk

You can also read a review about Joseph Nsubuga and his band on the BBC Radio 3 website at the link below.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/world/onyourstreet/msjoseph1.shtml