The remains of the man whose name will be remembered for many generations lie in the heart of Wakiso district, in a village called Koowe Mabombwe, a few kilometers from the main road.
That is the late Professor George Wilberforce Byalugonjo Kakoma, who composed the Uganda national anthem on the eve of independence on October 8, 1962.
In some editions, Uganda is also referred to as the “Land of Beauty” or the “Pearl of Africa.”
Kakoma’s lyrical genius, up to this point, has many people scratching their heads as to how he was able to encompass a newly born nation fresh out of colonisation into words that reflect a Uganda that was and one they envisioned.
His brother Ham Wilson Kavuulu claims that while the late Kakoma was still alive, he shared how he created this work of art.
According to Kavuulu, “he was brick laying when he heard a bird whistling, which gave him all the motivation he needed.”
Kavuulu’s memories of the first time the Uganda national anthem was publicly played on Independence Day are still vivid.
“I was very young, and all I remember is being picked up and taken to Kololo.
“Kakoma was leading the choir,” he explained.
60 years later, the Uganda national anthem remains, with its content intact.
Fortunately, those who have lived and read about its composition are willing to share their perspective on what has become one of the country’s identities.
Matovu Aloyious; “It was the original authentic prayer of the nation,” Joy told this website.
“It was a prayer for dedication for a newly born nation,” said Wilson Babyona, a music lecturer at Makerere University.
The process began with 46 composers being tasked with creating a melody and lyrics, but only six were chosen.
“Of the 6, three melodies were selected and given to the national music committee to assess which was most suitable,” Babyona said.
“Kakoma emerged as the best.”
The lyrics were changed from “Oh Uganda, thy people praise thee” to “Oh Uganda, may God uphold thee.”
This is significant to the first stanza, which was dedicated to the young born nation, laying the future in thy hand; United, free for liberty, together we’ll always stand.
The second stanza discusses the people’s character and identity.
The third stanza swears an oath of allegiance to the mother land, “the pearl of Africa’s crown,” promising to support and defend it.
The gist of a national anthem, according to Babyona, is embedded in the lyrics.
However, because the majority of Ugandans were born after independence, Nile Post conducted a spot check to see how they fared in this regard.
At least two of the four people we interviewed could not sing it correctly.
While most Ugandans know the anthem, some do not, others sing the wrong lyrics, and still others can only sing one stanza.
We inquired whether they fully understand not only the anthem but also its meaning.
One of the interviewees suggested that the anthem be transcribed into our local languages so that Ugandans can understand and relate to it.
“Not everyone has fully understood the meaning. We just crammed the words because our teachers taught he songs,” one of the people we interviewed told Nile Post.
“To some extent the anthem speaks to – the land that feeds us but to some extent it doesn’t reflects – land of freedom is a lie,” another Ugandan said.
According to musical experts, the country has failed to incorporate the human voice into the performance of the national anthem, undermining its public appreciation and reception.
According to Aloysius Matovu, “except for rituals where the president is present, they sing three stanzas, others sing one.”
According to Babyona, a Makerere lecturer, “there is a divergence in the actual character when analyzed against the appeal and aspirations of the anthem.”
They go on to say that a lack of relationship with the anthem has harmed patriotism.
“Some people associate it with the government, and they don’t want to know because they are tired,” he said.