There was challenge and defiance in the opinions of some arts critics after one of the leading international arts festivals in Uganda – Bayimba, announced that Sheebah would be one of the featured artists.
People were very relentless about how they thought she was a bad choice for the prestigious stage. They raged on and on but the deal had already been done. I was scared for her. If I’d been Sheebah, I’d have called it off and walked away. I’m glad she didn’t.
Quite frankly, she might not have been the best performer at the festival. Only that for some of us, she was the strongest character that stood on that stage. She let it all go and showed the world that she could be frail and vulnerable. She just wasn’t ready to give up yet. That night, I saw a tiny girl’s resolve, she did what she had set out to do, she let the whole experience influence her in the right way. I know for a fact that it took a different kind of strength for her to get on that stage; because everything she had worked for all her life/career, now seemed to ride on those very short 45 minutes.
Listening to Nkwatako later this year was the thing, the connection I needed to remember her performance. In the theatre of my mind; she was back on that stage in slow motion. Slowly swaying to the soft tune that the song is, tenderly brushing straying strands of hair out of her face, and lovingly asking one fan after the other, Nkwatako.
I thought about how it must have been like for her that night. She must have gone back home to her bae (if she has one), and possibly begged with an emotional and cracking voice to be held. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t have hesitated had she asked.
Thanks to this song, its simple and very subtle suggestive gestures, we can now speak in code without arousing unnecessary suspicion, and still get what we WANT!
Imagine being woken up in the middle of the night to sweet whimpers and whispers from the one you love. Baby, Nkwatako, Nfiraako, Tonvaako!!?
Sigh, kanve wano.
Photography by: James, Bayimba International Festival of the arts.