The Singing Wells Project

The Singing Wells project (SWP) is a collaboration between Abubilla Music, a record label in London and Ketebul Music in Kenya, a non-profit organisation committed to identifying, preserving and promoting the diverse music traditions of East Africa.

The project is supported by  UK charity, The Abubilla Music Foundation.

Their goal is to record, archive and share the traditional music of East Africa for two important reasons – to sustain and celebrate the extraordinary cultural music heritage of the region and to help make this legacy relevant and fresh to today’s audiences.

As a group of sound and video engineers, producers and musicians, they are set out on this mission not to become ‘fossil collectors’ and store the recordings in inaccessible archives. The Singing Wells project works with musicians to make sure their music traditions continue to be practiced, can be shared amongst the widest audiences and become a source of inspiration for new musicians.

We are proud to have licensed music recorded by this project in Somebody Clap For Me.  The field recordings from The Singing Wells Project added a whole new dimension to our documentary. 

 

MAISHA FILM LAB - DOC LAB '11

The roots of the Maisha Foundation date back to 1991, when Oscar-nominated director Mira Nair was shooting her second feature film, ‘Mississippi Masala’ in Kampala, Uganda.

During production, Nair was inspired by Uganda’s rich storytelling tradition, but noted a lack in resources that would allow potential filmmakers to express these narratives onscreen.

Encouraged by her own experiences and the support of the international filmmaking community, Nair founded the Maisha Foundation in 2004. The first Maisha Screenwriting lab took place in Kampala in 2005. Since then, more than 500 participants have attended the Maisha labs on full scholarships, having produced over 50 short films that have been screened in multiple international film festivals.  

 We were Team A - or as we preferred calling ourselves. " The A-Team" 

We were Team A - or as we preferred calling ourselves. " The A-Team" 

Sometime in September 2011, I got a phone call from Ama Akuamoah - who worked at the Doha Film Institute at the time - asking me if I'd like to go to Uganda and attend a documentary lab. DFI was sponsoring the Maisha Film Labs back then, and they could send some Doha participants to attend. I would have to submit a treatment and go through the selection process, but she thought I had a shot. Oh, and the deadline for submission is tonight.

It was 2 pm when she called me. I went straight to Google search. Let's see what's happening in Uganda that I could make a film about. Also, let's find out what a documentary treatment looks like, because I have never written ( or read) one. Oh, here's an interesting story about how spoken word poetry is all the rage in Kampala. I'm down with that. 

Long story short , I sent in my submission and treatment right before the deadline, and a few weeks later, I arrived in Kampala and was taken to the small retreat hotel where the Lab was to start the next day. 

Liz Buyondo and Peter Chappell took me to Bayimba - the international arts festival- happening at the Ugandan National Theatre. Little did I know I was to spend A LOT of time filming there in the next 3 years. 

 

Canadian Restaurant - no poutine, no maple syrup, no moose steaks.

From Sep 2011 until Dec 2013, I was in Kampala - on and off - getting to know the people, learning about the spoken word movement, shooting Somebody Clap For Me. Of course I had to eat, and soon I had a favourite restaurant for local food; the Canadian Restaurant on Ggaba rd. 

 photo by Moses Bwayo

photo by Moses Bwayo

So why is it called Canadian? Well, legend goes that the restaurant had a different name, but since the staff of a Canadian NGO nearby was eating there every day, the neighbours referred to it as "canadian" and the name caught on. The owner and chef, the lovely Ms. Nakanwagi Rose, decided to officially name the restaurant Canadian, had the sign made to put up front, and that was that.  But does it serve Canadian food? No. 

 This is pretty much the menu. My favorite combo : matooke, g-nuts and greens, sweet potato, pumpkin and mputa ( nile perch). oh , and a stone cold Stoney (ginger soda). ( photo: Moses Bwayo)

This is pretty much the menu. My favorite combo : matooke, g-nuts and greens, sweet potato, pumpkin and mputa ( nile perch). oh , and a stone cold Stoney (ginger soda). ( photo: Moses Bwayo)

 the full combo: "all foods"( posho, beans, matooke, rice, sweet potato) , greens, salad, g-nut and a delicious mputa (nile perch) tail.  ( photo : Moses Bwayo)

the full combo: "all foods"( posho, beans, matooke, rice, sweet potato) , greens, salad, g-nut and a delicious mputa (nile perch) tail.  ( photo : Moses Bwayo)

Two years later, i have cravings for her food. I try to reproduce it at home, but it's never the same thing. I've eaten the same menu at the Sheratons and Proteas and Serenas in Kampala, but they don't come even close in flavour, seasonings and care. Maama Canadian cooks with love and you can taste it. 

 Maama Canadian, Nakawangi Rose, and a happy customer.  ( photo by Moses Bwayo)   

Maama Canadian, Nakawangi Rose, and a happy customer.  ( photo by Moses Bwayo)