Paul Kafeero, gone too

On Thursday last week, one of
Uganda’s most prolific singers died. Paul Kafeero was always an enigma to me and when he passed on, I was hurt in more than just the usual way that one is affected when one of the thousands of musicians dies in the country.

Needless to say, those who’ve heard his songs will agree that he was one strange guy. The lyrics he dropped in his songs were not what you would expect him to write, especially after you had seen what he looked like. The poetry was just beyond him. 

My folly was procrastination. I planned to interview him for two years. I waited too long. Thursday proved he is so gone. I am never going to hear from his own mouth what drove him. 

I used to write on the entertainment beat. Now back in the day, the hip subjects were not the likes of Paul Kafeero or Fred Ssebatta. One editor actually told me to drop my plans to write about Mariam Ndagire because the readers of the section were more into Michael Ross and J Kazoora. I thought Ndagire was very talented, what with the plays she writes and the deep songs she sings…used to sing! 

I came close to doing that interview. I met Kafeero at one of the monthly Jam on the Greens at the National Theatre and wanted to do it then. Unfortunately, he was clearly inebriated and I knew I had to die another day. 

He was an interesting character, that one. He turned to me and smiled throughout when I introduced myself, like he was dreaming a continuous sweet dream. His permed hair was badly hidden under a black cap and his unruly beard was in those days truly coming into its own. 

He was standing alone, without any hangers on like he was an alien in the community. It was a community of musicians but he seemed to be misplaced. He sipped on his beer and waited for his turn to go upstage and do his thing. 

Paul Kafeero intrigued me because of the things he sang about. He was always looking ahead of time, peeping into the future and telling the world what he saw. That he was a skilled wordsmith was only a bonus. He was first a prophet. 

One day in a taxi to Ntinda, as I tried to ignore the annoying chick next to me who sat like it was her lounge at home and not a scrappy old taxi, I heard his hit, Walumbe Zaaya for the first time and I fell in love with Kadongo Kamu. That’s when I started listening to others like Ssebatta and Matiya Kakumirizi. I discovered that these were the words of wisdom from a time long gone but they were still very potent.


Because i waited, i’ll never know.


About Steven

It wasn't me; arrest the voices. It was the voices in my head. Sike! I am Ugandan first. I care for development in my country. I am a curious observer second and I care to know what you think.
This entry was posted in cry the beloved country, In memory of a distinguished soldier. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Paul Kafeero, gone too

  1. I can’t say I like his genre, but that he was a gifted wordsmith is hard to ignore. He was a poet larger than himself. And I think that Walumbe song of his is quite a masterpiece. The one thing we will remember even after there have been many decades between now and then. It is the stuff of folk tales that are told hundres ot years after they were inspired.

    I think them Kadongo-kamu guys have the poetry, but their genre just doesn’t break through to the hormone-filled masses. It’s why Abdu Mu[l|r]asi hit hard. He used the lyrical talent of the genre with the beats that appeal to the Rest of Us.

  2. Aseu says:

    Sad aint it? The procrastination; the musician. A very bad disease that one…procrastination. It has got the better of me too.

  3. Tandra says:

    i heard next to nothing that he sung but i do know he was well respected, we have lost a good man.
    And yes,procrastinating wil do that, make you miss out on once in a life time opportunities….oh well..there’s still next time to do something worth while…LOL

  4. magoola says:

    May his soul rest in peace.

    Kati seeing as you are a big fan,Is kadongo kamu music available in mp3?

  5. Jasmine says:

    yep. he was some sort of enigma. love him or hate him, he got your attention. his poetry amazed me too. it made me sit up and listen. i heard on the radio about his burial and only then realised he’d passed away. unfortunately in my world, you can’t say “what? Paul Kafeero has died!” without getting a “what?” kind of dazed look.
    At Obligato we were silent for a moment to pay respect to him but my company still asked ‘who was he?’
    @Magoola: you should try YouTube for his music. you never know. i found a luganda song there sometime. pity can not recall which.
    May his soul rest in peace.

  6. john says:

    Sure Walumbe Zaaya was a good song, but Tulabye Nobulamu buno Obwa Kokonyo is almost equally as good. I think the late Paul should have got 2 awards in different years.

  7. saku john says:

    i love pauul kafero like my brother and where the same clan i miss
    him ilove his song too mach but God blees him in inter life

  8. mukasa john says:

    ilove kafero more than eny body on planet but God.s desission is all in all

  9. Pingback: A Paul Kafeero refrain « Even Steven

  10. He was awesomely among the best i have ever seen and heard, rest in peace Paul.

  11. One more reason why I keep arguing blogs last forever! And sometimes the best writing is to be found on them!

  12. Abid says:

    I like that genre . i think it is true Ugandan Music. their content touches deep everyday issues and is not stuck in the runt like the mainstream music

  13. Jim says:

    Maybe you should interview those people who were very close to him… Andrew Benon Kibuuka, senkubuge siasa, angel Sekandi, omwana W’omuzungu, his father past away so you can’t include him. And maybe his brothers/sisters. I think that is one book that I am still waiting to read “The Biography of Job Paul Kafeero” hope someone can write it soon.

  14. Erika says:

    excellent points altogether, you simply gained a new reader.
    What could you recommend about your publish that you just made some days ago?
    Any positive?

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