Mbarara, Uganda. It is getting late. A stride away from a filthy gutter that separates them and the tarmac road, a gradually growing crowd finds seats and tries hard to pay attention to an erratic youngster. He, with a sachet of alcohol in hand, and at the top of his voice, moves from one woman to another. Spanking the well rounded African buttocks of an apparently pleased one, shaking the hand of a seamstress he declares his love to, and rubbing shoulders with another he promises to take home as his wife. All before announcing his rather quite intriguing name.
DJ Freeman – he says – is a lean bloke, of about thirty-something years of age or possibly below the big three and zero who engages a fellow in an argument that questions his roots. He claims he is Ugandan, and not Rwandese. He is obsessed with his potentials, and ambitions. He is not concerned with his weaknesses, and limitations.
I lean against a wall that forms part of an array of dukas, and doubt him. Not for so long though. An unsolicited, and impressive Runyankole-Rukiga kwevuga session ensues. His critics bow in his presence, and in silence, acknowledge his artistic abilities. A round of applause commences. The fellow who was in doubt bellows out “kumanyoko, you are not Rwandese.”
He asks us not to criticise him for his drunken stupor and kelele. They are responsible for the entertainment we have enjoyed at no cost whatsoever. He promises himself, and us too, that the seventy two songs he says he has written, by candlelight, will one day make him the rich and famous man he hopes he will become – like Jose Chameleon – even if it will take smearing himself with human excretions from a toilet for the sole purpose of shooting a video, and, of course, making money.
Thursday, April 17, 2014.