Legendary France based Ugandan musician Geoffrey Oryema has died aged 65, in France. At the end of 2016, Oryema ended his forty year exile by staging a comeback concert and later promising that he will not wait for more forty years before coming home again.
Oryema, probably little known to the current crop of local music consumers is the biggest music export Uganda has given to the world.
With lyrics dear to him, his story and sad experiences, he captured the world’s imagination. And yet deliberately, even when he picked up a guitar and probably replaced a Lukembe, he stayed true to his mother tongue. This remained the biggest connection the musician had with the country.
Born on April 16, 1953, Oryema is a son to Janet Manjeri Acoyo and Erinayo Wilson Oryema, Uganda’s first African Inspector General of Police between 1964 and 1971.
Oryema left Uganda in 1977 at the height of the Idi Amin’s brutal regime, aged 24. He was smuggled across the Ugandan border in the trunk of a car. This was after the murder of his father along with Janan Luwum and other cabinet ministers in relation to a coup plot.
He would later end up in France where he would launch a music career whose music didn’t only impress at festivals but on TV shows and films.
While in Uganda for what ended up being his only show in the country, he noted that he had been working on new material that would become an album titled From Africa with Love.
His death was announced by probably his biggest Ugandan admirer and world music artiste Joel Sebunjo and later confirmed by Bayimba Foundation’s Faisal Kiwewa who was instrumental in Oryema’s Kampala show.
Source: Monitor Uganda
Allan Bangirana is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Spur Magazine. He is also the co-founder of the Innovware project and a freelance consultant passionate about tech, programming, games and entertainment.