Wierd words Ugandan artsits use, what do they really mean? ...

By Elizabeth Namazzi IT'S time for us to replace weird sounds with meaningful music. Ideal music should combine good beats with sense," Bebe Cool once said. Which gets you wondering: some of those words our favourite Ugandan musicians use, what do they mean?  "Ishambada!" (is that the word?), Chance Nalubega screams excitedly in several of her songs. "Bomboclart!" Chameleone shouts hoarsely, "Bada!" Bobi wine shouts. Some have labelled such words satanic, mbu these guys use them to spin a spell on their audiences. Not a good thought, so I prefer to think that our musicians are more worried about using catchy, memorable phrases that will stick with their audiences even in their dreams. You don't have to identify with the words, no!

With or without conscious thought, no matter where you are, the sad thing is, the most meaningless lines will always pop out. Your job as the audience is to spring excitedly from your seat each time Bebe Cool screams "Badembadambe" and start jumping around. It's like humming "Eno mike ya ziggy D tesaaga..." before you even say good morning to God. 
By the time you recall why Baganda hate that song, your last-born is already singing along enthusiastically! Most annoying, though, is that this song you don't understand will ring in your day until you return to bed at night. Exactly what do our musicians have in mind when composing/singing some of these words? "I really don't know", Irene Namubiru says of her song Simbalala. "I used the word (Simbalala) because it was sweet. We used to sing it as kids and I liked it. Maybe I should ask my grandmother."

Surprised she didn't know what she was singing to you? Well, at least Bebe Cool knew what "funtula" means. "Chasing," he says. Plus, he was thinking of a song with "one of those words that will easily flow in people's mouths. I wanted people to ask 'funtula, funtula? What does funtula mean?'" Then there's that popular chant of his that gets his fans screaming: "Burn them down". Ever stopped to wonder whom exactly he want to burn? "Not anyone in particular," he says with an amused chuckle. "It was a kind of prayer against all my enemies, especially the press. (You) people in the press tortured me a lot. For years I got bad publicity each time I got on stage. It used to annoy me. I felt like I wanted to burn you all." Hmm! Fortunately, he claims that he has dropped the prayer (that's why it's missing in his latest songs) because his war with the press is finally done. "I see no more reason to use it because my war with you is over. You oppressed me and I've finally won," he says.

Once, Chameleone's music was favoured because we didn't have to worry about stuffing children's ears with cotton wool whenever his songs were played on radio. "Music is a question of tackling each adversarial situation at a time with due seriousness," he said in one interview. That brings to mind one of his songs where he repeatedly says "bomboclart." Those in the know say it's a not-so nice word - God deafen the kids - and with Chameleone's phone switched to voice mail, we have to get a Jamaican (or people like that) to explain. What you can explain though is what "Bada" means in Bobi Wine's Omwana wa bandi. Talk of some mystery in song, but Wine's sh4m is still waiting for someone who will guess what bada means. Some girls have hinted at their school-understanding of the word but Wine insists its an abbreviation with B standing for Bobi Wine. Then there's Ragga Dee's Sabagamba. With a smile, he sings "sabagamba nti nja babamba?" Literally, kubamba means throwing one's legs apart. So the question is, why would Ragga Dee want to kubamba anyone? Pity he was unavailable to answer this but if we are looking for meaning... well, it does sound really weird! Maybe those against meaningful music do have a point. We should just enjoy the music instead of going academic on it. otherwise, we might just might give up on learning something from Ugandan music!