Percussion Discussion Africa
By Steven Tendo
Percussion Discussion Afrika have come a long way since the band's inception in 1997. These days, there are very few people who can get away with admitting to ignorance of this dynamic group because they have proven to be one of the most hardworking groups in the country. Makes one wonder what we would have if every one involved in showbiz did their stuff like these guys.
It is a group that has stuck to what is important. They saw the gap in Ugandan percussion and realised that if they did not come out to bridge this gap, probably there would be a catastrophe of sorts. Omwana We Nsenene Herman Ssewanyana, the lead man of the group used to do his thing solely with Afrigo band. Sewanyana has been performing and recording for over Twenty years.
"I founded Percussion Discussion Africa in 1997 in an attempt to develop an East African identity and avoid being asked all the time whether we come from Congo," Sewanyana said sometime. It seems he has gone along way in convincing whoever would doubt that he is very Ugandan.
Sewanyana has become one of the most visible elements of Percussion mainly because of his talent on the drums. When the brother gets down to beat the drum, (make that drums) it is hard not to get on the floor and shake it. Sewanyana's passion for percussive instruments has refused to die and this is probably why he decided to start up something that would be dedicated to drums and drums alone.
Percussion Discussion Afrika is self-explanatory. They make percussion instruments discuss amongst themselves. They mix western percussion instruments with local ones and the result is always amazing, ask those who have been for their shows at Club Obligatto. They try to stick to original Ugandan tunes and then they doctor them to suit the taste of everyone, young or old.
And Africa has not been blind to their efforts. Their two albums have received rave reviews all over Africa. Twabalamusa a track on Omubala was number one on the internet charts for close to a year. The second album Mulamu took Kampala by storm and took them to the pinnacle of Ugandan respect when it won them a PAM award.
At the recent KORA awards, PDA was nominated for Best Cultural Group. Even though they did not win, they feel that they are on another level now. The fact that Africa gave them a nod means a lot to them. Their song, Mu'Africa, a cry to the world about the problems that plague Africa has a strong video which tells the story on its own and probably was a very strong factor in that nomination.
PDA is well known all over Africa because they have done their fair share of travelling. But then even in places they have never been to, they are known because their music has gone ahead of them and announced to the world that there is a force to reckon with and it comes from Uganda. They have been to Lebanon, Malawi, Rwanda, and Zanzibar.
PDA is based at the National Theatre and you can never fail to see one of the bright eyed members when on a visit there. Herman Sewanyana and Mike Musoke are very common figures at the Musician's Club.
Apart from Sewanyana and Musoke, the band is composed of Saidi Kasule on the saxophone, Robert Kajoba on bass guitar, Denson Kirunda on western drums, Wilfred Okello on the harp, Herbert Kinobe on the tube fiddle, Sam Bakabulindi on the long drum and Winnie Namulwa, Harriet Nalumansi and Juliet Nabukalu on vocals.