Singing for life: HIV/AIDS and music in Uganda

Afropop Worldwide, November 15, 2007

Produced by Siddhartha Mitter. Follow link for audio. In just fifteen years, Uganda lowered its HIV/AIDS infection rate from 30% to just 5%. The life-saving information was best channeled by grassroots theater groups, and especially, women’s choirs who turned health advice, sometimes blended with religion, into entertainment that could move freely to even the most remote regions of Uganda. Ethnomusicologist and medical anthropologist Gregory Barz helps us get below the surface in a country where a person might visit a Catholic health clinic in the morning, a charismatic church in the afternoon, and a traditional healer versed in herbal remedies or even spirit possession, at night. We’ll also hear from popular musicians such as Uganda’s longstanding roots pop dance band Afrigo Band, the late singer Philly Lutaaya, a brave artist who was the first to publicly announced he had AIDS, the current king of traditional pop, Nandiujja, and artists performing in the lively, guitar driven kidango kamu style. A profound example of music’s potential to transform society. Produced by Siddhartha Mitter.