Music of the Batwa

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During our Field Visit of November 2011 the Singing Wells team recorded some fantastic tracks from the Batwa tribe in South-Western Uganda.

Originally, Batwa were forest-dwelling hunter-gatherers based in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa, and are widely accepted as the original inhabitants of the region. As their traditional forest lands and territories fell under the control of agro-industries and conservation agencies, the Batwa became squatters living on the edges of society. The establishment of the Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks for Mountain Gorillas in 1991 enabled the authorities to evict the Batwa definitely from the forest.

Whilst the difficulty of finding land rights are a huge issue for these people, they’re sense of cultural identity has not wavered, and the music they can produce is spectacular. This blog is about some of the music we recorded on our field visit .

At the end of the field trip of November 2011, back in Western Kenya, we made a decision to bring some of the Batwa singers back from Kisoro, Uganda to Nairobi.  We called Henry Neza to see if he would be willing to travel with a selection of singers to Nairobi.  We told him if he left immediately he would probably make it back to Nairobi at the same time we did.  We called him on Monday the 28th of November, hoping he could make it to Nairobi by the 2nd of December.  He was able to contact all the singers on the 29th of November and he arranged all travel papers by the 30th.  They then left the morning of the  30th and travelled by private van from Kisoro to Kampala, arriving in Kampala the same evening.  They spent the night in Kampala and left the morning of the 1st of December and arrived in Nairobi in the afternoon of the second. There were five ladies and five babies and three men, plus Henry.  14 people drove for roughly 48 hours to sing. Here is a recording of all of these musicians together at Ketebul Studios:

This video below was recorded on location in Mperwa village in Uganda, this is Ketebul artist Winyo collaborating with members of the Mperwa Dancers on the song ‘Bashitsi Bahire’ with Jesse Bukindu on guitar.

Read and listen to more of the Batwa music on our website.

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