A thief breaks into your home with so much energy and skill that you can not help but to give in. She takes over your home and you surrender all you have with a smile. Later when she decides to leave, you are begging her not to go. Your pleas fall on deaf ears as she walks out of your home taking your heart with her. That is what Jemimah Sanyu and her band Unit 446 did to me on the opening night of the 2014 Bayimba International Festival of the Arts Friday night!

Jemimah Sanyu tears up the stage
Jemimah Sanyu tears up the stage

Just when we were all eager for Zimbabwe’s band, Neheroke, which was next onstage after Sifa Kelele’s perfomance, it was shocking that the MC, Lady Bizzo, instead introduced a one Jemima, who was nowhere on the programme. Surprisingly, Lady Bizzo didn’t explain to us why the Zimbabwean band had not shown up that night.
Anyway, we wanted someone who could put us in the mood for the festival. Jinja’s Sandra Sanjja, who opened the perfomances at 7pm, followed by the all-girl band, Sifa Kelele had failed to do it.
Jemima walked to the stage with the swagger of a superstar. “every body feeling irie tonight?” She asked – leaving me thinking…:”yeah, just another of those wannabe reggae artists”.
However she had every one’s attention right from the sound check. Her voice too strong and rich to ignore and her stage presence commanding you to watch her. Finally, the real Bayimba festival 2014 had started!
Formerly with Janzi band and Sarah Zawedde’s Zawee Band, Jemima is the fireball that rocked the Bayimba main stage at nine pm. Performing a variety of contemporary RnB and afro fusion songs like I am Ugandan and amaaso go gogera, bandage, kankubite, perfect gentleman she took us on a musical high we had not experienced yet since the show started. She had the charisma, charm, attitude and energy of a star. Yes, she seemed a bit crazy as she broke into dance like no one was watching her, but that was her spark. The audience listened in amazement as she crooned the beautiful sounds of ziba amaaso.
As if Jemima had not wowed us enough, unit 446’s other lead singer, Joshua had the ladies falling in love with his soulful voice as he performed songs like Nalumansi and twetolola. Soothing to the ear and yet exciting to watch was the youthful looking Joshua who sung, played his acoustic guitar and danced at the same time. He was so effortless and natural. Some described him as a concoction of Maurice Kirya and cute Kaye but to me, Joshua is some one that Maurice Kirya should be watching carefully from now on.
Jemima’s band was so in sync. It seemed flawless! Emma, on the drums was so energetic and lively. Mosha strumming on that guitar like he would never play it again and the passionate saxophonist blew us away. Together, they gave us the ultimate bayimba experience. They were the best thing that happened to the Bayimba main stage on Fruday night.
After performing for an hour, Jemima said good night and broke our hearts. The greedy crowd asked for an encore but her time was up. She clearly is going to go places as an artiste and performer. I am looking forward to seeing her in her own concert.
With exciting opening perfomances like Jemima’s, I can only say that Bayimba 2014 was one of a kind.



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