35 years later, Philly Lutaaya Christmas songs dominate festive theme

If there is one Ugandan who has dominated the festive season and particularly the month of December for more than 30 years, it is definitely Philly Bongoley Lutaaya.

Born in 1951, Lutaaya died in December 1989 at the age of 38 but before his death, one thing is remembered by almost everyone, be it the young and the aged, the Christmas songs.

In 1987, Lutaaya released an album titled Merry Christmas with songs such as Zuukuka, Tumusinze, Merry Christmas, Katujaguze, Anindiridde and Gloria written in native to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Released in 1987, 35 years later, the songs rule many airwaves and are part of the soundtracks for the Christmas celebrations and remain central to the festive season to date.

They remain the theme songs for festivities through December 31.

According to 29-year-old Musa Kafeero, while still in the village, Lutaaya’s songs were on play almost the entire month of December.

“The sound of one of those songs would easily signal to us that Christmas was on the door. Even after having grown up and coming to Kampala, whenever the song Zuukuka is played, it feels nostalgic,” Kafeero, a welder in Kisenyi, a Kampala suburb says.

The same feeling is shared by Robert Bongomin, from Gulu who says that while some of Lutaaya’s Christmas songs are in Luganda, they are easily the theme songs at his home.

“Back then, my family had a cassette player and one of the tapes we could not miss was for Lutaaya, especially on Christmas. There was a way it put everyone in the mood for the big day.  In fact, even here in Kampala, I still enjoy the songs. It is something I grew up enjoying and up to now, my children enjoy the songs.”

He said: “Many Christmas songs have been composed, graced our airwaves but have died shortly after their release. Philly Lutaaya’s Christmas songs are just unforgettable.”

Paul Mutebi says back in the days, many people in towns would stock tapes for Philly Lutaaya mainly because of the Christmas album whose songs they would repeatedly play throughout the festive season.

“I guess it is still the practice in some villages, though things seem to have changed with technology as people now either download the songs and play them from their smartphones or they put the music on their flash disks.  In all this, one thing remains that Lutaaya’s Christmas songs will never grow old and will continue reminding us of the old days in the villages.”

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