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Janzi Awards; A Celebration of Uganda’s creativity and heritage


Janzi Awards; A Celebration of Uganda’s creativity and heritage

Promoters of Janzi Awards before the event

A few Ugandans had heard about the word Janzi (which is derived from the Luganda name for the Grasshopper- Ejjanzi). But fewer probably associated it with a musical instrument – until they heard of the Janzi awards or were even able to witness the award itself.

The just concluded Janzi Awards were inspired by latest addition to Uganda’s heritage – a double strand musical instrument in the form of a harp, that was invented by musician James Ssewakiryanga – aka Sewa Sewa.

The story behind Sewa Sewa’s inspiration for the Janzi has been told, including in these very pages. The Sunrise prominently featured the instrument on our front page and its creator in 2019 ahead of its launch at Kampala Serena Hotel. Here’s how Sewa Sewa got inspired to make the Janzi.

Back to the awards;

The inaugural edition of the Janzi Awards was held last weekend to recognize outstanding individuals and organisations that have contributed to the development of art in Uganda. Organized by the Uganda Cultural Forum and with support from Operation Wealth Creation, UCC and other institutions, up to 49 Janzi Awards were given out at the awards gala held at Kololo Independence grounds.

The awards are perhaps the greatest benefit to the arts industry following discussions and meetings between artists and Gen. Salim Saleh that have been taking place in Gulu over the past year.

As remarked by the Director of Operations at OWC Sylvia Awori, the Awards were mooted during meetings, trainings, and other consultative engagements with different stakeholders in the Cultural, Creative and Performing Arts Sector that have been happening across the country over the course of the year.

“The main aim was to explore ways of streamlining the sector with a view of unlocking its potential for job and wealth creation,” It was unveiled by the Chief Coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation and Chairman of the Uganda Development Forum Gen. Salim Saleh on an occasion officiated by the Prime Ministry of Uganda as well as the Chairman of the Uganda National Cultural Forum in Gulu.

Organisers say the use of The Janzi – a Ugandan instrument that is certified and registered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), not only celebrates the ingenuity of the instrument’s creator, but also goes a long way to popularize it, as well as shine light on the achievements of other outstanding personalities who have made big strides in the arts industry.

“The Awards are inspired by the instrument by way of celebrating and promoting the ingenuity and diversity of Uganda’s homegrown innovations and recognizing the value and contribution of creatives and artists in promoting the country’s culture, promoting social harmony, cohesion and unity through their different trades.”

Unlike other awards, organizers of the Janzi awards made an effort to cover the entire spectrum of the creative industry including writers, cartoonists, musicians, producers, dancers, curators and even a scientist – in the name of Prof. Patrick Ogwang who scooped the Traditional Medicine Innovator award.

For James Ssewakiryanga – the inventor of the Janzi – from which the awards were baptized, the event was a fulfilling, rewarding and hugely motivating exercise.

James Ssewakiryanga with his double scale string instrument

James Ssewakiryanga displays the Janzi

Asked how he felt with the idea that a national gala was being held to honour his creativity; Ssewakiryanga said: “Like any human being I feel very happy. At least my energy that I have invested in the development of the Janzi and the promotion of Ugandan music are paying off.” He added: “It is not just me but is also a motivation to all those people innovating and inventing different things. It will encourage them to do more because they can be appreciated.”

Ssewakiryanga says he received financial support from OWC, among other organisations to produce 100 Janzi instruments that were handed out as awards. This means that the recipients of the awards have in their possession an authentic instrument they can play and create music with.

Looking forward, Ssewakiryanga told The Sunrise that he is setting his sights on producing as many of the instruments as possible so that he is able to have them easily accessible to whoever may want them.

“After the awards, I want to take some time off, reorganize so that I can be able to effectively respond to calls and orders of the instrument.”

He believes that he will be able to tap into the goodwill of Gen. SalimSaleh to take not only the Janzi but also Uganda’s music industry to greater heights.

Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga, right, was awarded the Janzi for his book Work and Prosper, as the best book in the non-fiction book category

Janzi Awards; Who are the Winners?

Male Artist of the Year

• Pallaso – Winner

Female Artist of the Year
• Azawi – Winner

Outstanding Album of the Year

• Azawi – African Music

Outstanding Song of the Year

• Pia Pounds – Winner

Outstanding Kadongokamu Artist (Male)

• Willy Mukabya

Outstanding Kadongokamu Artist (Female)

• Jackie Kizito

Emerging Artist Award

• ZexBilangilangi

Outstanding Dance Hall Artist

• Cindy Sanyu

Outstanding Live Band

• Janzi Band

Outstanding Dance Group

• Masaka Kids Africana

Outstanding Video Award

• Pia Pounds

Outstanding Western Artist

• Ray G

Outstanding Eastern Artist

• RodyGavana

Outstanding Northern Artist

• ProfesaMaros

Outstanding Faith-Based Musician

• Levixone

Outstanding Contemporary/World Music

• Kenneth Mugabi

Outstanding RnB Artist

• Liam Voice

Viewer’s Choice Award

• Eddy Kenzo

Humanitarian Award

• Levixone – Kosovo NGO

Outstanding Legendary Artist

• Moze Radio – TambulaNange

Outstanding Entrepreneurial Artist

• Bobi Wine

Outstanding Afro Beat/Pop Artist

• Pallaso – Malamu

Outstanding Afro-Zouk Artist

• B2C – Munda’awo

Outstanding Performer

• Sheebah Karungi – Boy Fire

Outstanding Vocalist

• Kenneth Mugabi – Nkwegomba

Outstanding Audio Producer

• Nessin Pan Production – Munda’awo

Outstanding Audio Producer Regional

• MastaBeatz

Outstanding Video Producer

• Sasha Vybz –

Outstanding Video Producer Regional

• McElvis Onset

Outstanding Comedy Performance

• Kiboneka Moses – Uncle Mo

Outstanding Dance Group (Contemporary)

• Masaka Kids Africana

Outstanding Film

• The Girl in the Yellow Jumper

Outstanding Documentary

• Demystifying Lifts and Lows

Outstanding TV Drama

• Baguma

Outstanding Actor

• MushemaHousen

Outstanding Actress

• Eleanor Nabwiso

Outstanding Screen Play Writer

• MutoniJordanah (Baguma)

Outstanding Visual Effects

• 16 Rounds

Outstanding Producer

• UsamaMukwaya

Outstanding Painter

• Ntensibe Joseph

Outstanding Photographer

• Edgar Batte

Outstanding Fashion Designer

• Abbas Kaijuka

Outstanding Stylist in Fashion

• Mavo Kampala

Outstanding Make-Up Artist

• Monafaces

Outstanding Interior Designer

• One100_int-ug

Outstanding Architect

• Jonathan Nsubuga

Outstanding Book

• The First Woman

Outstanding Children’s Storybook

• Namulanda

Outstanding Non- Fiction Writer

• Charles Peter Mayiga

Outstanding Cartoonist

• Jimmy Spire Ssentongo

Outstanding Newspaper/Magazine Columnist

• Esther Namugogi

Outstanding Podcaster

• NabuguziKiwanuka

Outstanding App

• Afromobile

Outstanding Gaming Programmer

• Daniel Okalanyi

Outstanding Innovator

• Zeenode Ltd

Outstanding Community Museum

• Igongo Museum – South Western Uganda

Outstanding Art Gallery

• Afriart Gallery

Domestic Tourism Award

• Trip Addicts –

Traditional Medicine Innovator Award

• Prof. Patrick Ogwang – Developer of Covidex

Outstanding Emcees

• MC Kats

Outstanding Promoters

• Talent Africa 256

Outstanding Event Producer

• Fenon

Lifetime Achievement Award

• Moses Matovu



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