In the past, the music we had was different from what we have today. We had a number of singers whose talent was more innate, rather than it was trained. Those who went under training were just perfecting their talents. The music was more educative and was inspired by specific issues such as politics, romance and health etc.
It was very narrative and entertaining at the same time. There were not many copyright regulations but intellectual theft through duplication of existing songs was uncommon.
As for dancing, people displayed their gifts of dancing. The videos of most songs in Africa were in black and white because the advanced technology of reflecting many colors had not yet become popular in Africa.
These were the days when there were a number of African stars. Such people include; the late Lucky Dube, Philly Lutaya among others.
As I got into the streets of Kampala city, I was welcomed by noise. People were shouting; businessmen and women calling customers to their stalls, hawkers moving everywhere looking for customers and many bars, saloons, hotels, supermarkets and retail shops playing music. Others would play only audio while some even showed videos.
I visited one middle-class hotel for dinner. I sat next to an old woman called Bethel who seemed impatient. I listened to the music which was being played in the hotel and noticed that some of the songs had been duplicated.
I asked the old woman how she felt about the music. "Well, these days, African music has lost meaning; it’s now more of shouting than real singing," she said. She added that in fact, these days, an individual doesn’t need to do much to be called a musician. Bethel said that it’s a matter of being confident, having money and a certain social status.
Then, I asked her another question that has the entertainment industry done any better? She sighed looked around, “I could say yes but I am going to say no because apart from making noise, nothing better has been noticed.”
We held a brief discussion and we later resolved that indeed, the entertainment industry has not done any better. I kept wondering whether people lack talent or simply their council of music has not endeavored to put limitations on the songs produced.
Also, I thought that the governments in African countries have not put into consideration the security of albums being produced. But I still could not understand why one would duplicate a song when they could compose their own.
The biggest challenge we have faced as Africans is laziness. We tend to be reluctant in doing things. Many people don’t want to think a lot, they seem comfortable when the whites are busy thinking forward.
When you compare the magnitude of imported products in Africa and those exported by Africa, indeed you can see the difference. This is because few Africans have endeavored to think ahead.
If you visit expensive hotels, supermarkets, and shops, you will be surprised to find that they play European music since most of African songs carry little or no meaning.
Finally, to my fellow Africans, especially those with a passion for music, try hard to create the music from your heart and avoid copying. Our continent will thank you for that.