Rise Up – Remembering 7/11
JULY 11 2010, Spain vs Netherlands, World Cup Fever at it’s peak and whether you were a football (soccer) fan or not, there was some level of your attention drawn to this grand finale. This day was a proud moment for Africa, having hosted a rather successful ginormous tournament that only occurs once every four years. South Africa had done all of us Africans proud, having averted any sort of terrorist activity synonymous with many huge sporting events.
ON this day, the whole world, including Uganda & Somalia had their eyes set on South Africa. For Uganda the day was about to go from a festive-filled mood to tears, sadness & agony. With a few minutes left to the end of the goal-less game, several bombs went off in Kampala, Uganda in two different locations killing 80 people and injuring scores, forever leaving scars for survivors and loved ones of the dead. The perpetrators? An outfit of Al Queda based in Somalia known as The Al Shabaab. “Why Uganda?” we all wondered, the reason Al Shabaab gave is that that was retaliation for Uganda’s troops being present in Somalia. For the last several years, Uganda has been in Somalia under the African Union peace-keeping mission known as AMISOM.
BATABAZI had recently returned from a music tour in Uganda, only 10 days prior to the bombings. Among the places we had frequently hang out, sometimes watching World Cup games while in Kampala, was Kyadondo Rugby Club. Chances are, if we were still in Uganda on this July day, we would have been there most probably performing. Later that evening and the day following that, some of us found out that we had lost some people we knew either directly or through mutual friends. We also found out that a very dear friend to us had survived death by a whisker, having given up his seat to a young man, who was subsequently killed.
THESE events reminded us how short life can be. As musicians we figured the best way to remember the victims and give our people some sense of comfort and hope was to compose a song. That’s how “RISE UP” was born.
ON July 12, we all hit the studio together with Mo Mayanja, a Ugandan singer who was visiting us from New Jersey. Tha Mayor, our producer quickly made a beat and the rest of us recorded our vocals within hours. That first beat & song, however, was an “angry” song, where we were asking why did this happen and even came short of asking for revenge. Some of us felt that this wasn’t the kind of message we wanted to deliver to a hurting nation. We quickly went back to the drawing board and in the next few days a new beat was conceived and a new song recorded, mixed and mastered. That song was RISE UP and was released on July 17th to coincide with National Mourning Week, which had been declared by the Uganda government. The song went as far as the BBC when it was first featured on BBC’s Network Africa on the July 21st 2010 episode.
ONE year later, our hearts are with the dead, the survivors and the grieving. And our prayer is that justice shall be served & the wounds of our people eventually healed. May our brothers and sisters’ souls RIP and may we never forget them.
FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY