Uganda: Is He the Best Ugandan Poet?


I am a sucker for words, especially those lyrically pieced together.

They remind me of my former self, when I would help boys in classes above mine to write enticing love letters to their love interests in exchange for sugar and grub. It is because of that background that I love poetry.

Last week I was invited for Rwanda’s premiere arts festival, Kigali Up, at Amahoro stadium with the likes of Didier Awadi, Solange Ingabire and Ras Kayaga. I did not expect this poetry to leave a mark.

I also hated the fact that for a festival in its fourth edition, Uganda only had a single representative – Kabubi aka Slim Emcee. He stepped on stage as the underdog. Slowly, he worked his magic with his Pan-Africanism banters. The strength he uses and the ferocity in his eyes are almost enough to tell the story.


I have seen him perform at Kwivuga and Pablo Live but never has Slim Emcee been so animated both in character and costume. His afro, leopard-print shirt and gestures that involved him closing his eyes for almost minutes could not have driven home the message any better.

But trust the Bayimba-bound poet; he is neither a sellout nor a one-hit wonder. Despite the fact that we were less than twenty Ugandans around, it did not bar him from sending us some love before continuing on to his second poem dedicated to the lovers in the house. With a mixture of Kinyarwanda and English, he won over souls, especially the females, whose beauty had turned up for the festival in 3D.

What made his performance tick was not the fact that he speaks eloquently, but the feel he brings with the poems; he engages and most of the lines are cheeky. When delivering a love line in Kinyarwanda, he got the venue cheering at one point and then at another silence ruled as this young man with unkempt hair launched himself into yet another country.

With the infancy of poetry as an entertainment genre in Uganda, it may be quick to judge but this guy is fast-rising above his contemporaries.

“I have watched him twice on YouTube and I love his vibe,” said one of the females in the crowd.

By the time he left the stage, the writing on the wall was clear: Slim Emcee knows how to string his words beautifully. He clearly is one of the best this country has.

An anchor with CNBC TV18 for almost 4 years. Also co-anchors prime-time market shows like Power Breakfast, Traders only, Markets Mid-day and NSE Closing Bell.