Kadongo Kamu is Uganda’s oldest mainstream music genre. The term means “one little guitar” and refers to the the genre’s original form, in which one guitarist playing a simple six-string acoustic guitar would travel from town to town playing lyrically expansive songs that would teach lessons, retell familiar stories and comment on contemporary events. Why one guitar? Musicians found they could use a guitar to simulate the sound of the bass drum in the Baganda traditional rhythm known as “Bakisimba.”
Kadongo Kamu become widely popular in Uganda in the 1960s when “afro-jazz” musicians like Fred Masagazi composed music based on simple guitar melodies. Most contemporary kadongo kamu music has more than just one instrument — for example, check out Paul Kafeero’s“Walumbe Zaaya” — but it still based upon simple, catchy guitar melodies.