University of Pittsburgh

Lwanga's Paper Receives Top Honors at 2014 SEM

PhD candidate Charles Lwanga (Ethnomusicology) has been selected as the winner of this year’s  African Libraries Student Paper Prize for his paper “Watch your Tone!: African Popular Music as Illocutionary Act." The prize, awarded by the African Music Section of the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM), recognizes the most distinguished student paper delivered on the topic of African and African diasporan music presented at the SEM annual meeting during the previous year.

Lwanga’s paper explores the conditions surrounding “Tugambire Ku Jennifer” (“Please tell Jennifer on our behalf”), a song and video by Ugandan pop music star Bobi Wine created to protest Kampala City Boss Jennifer Musisi’s eviction of 8,500 street vendors from the city.

In judging the quality of the paper, the three-member prize committee described Charles' paper as:

"… very engaging in the way it sustains a brilliant argument on music’s response to sociopolitical events. Your analysis emerges from extensive fieldwork with a wide variety of actors involved in sociopolitical disputes around music, space, and urban regulations in contemporary Kampala. Integrating both audience and artist perspectives, your account also reveals how a single song, “Tugambire Ku Jennifer,” became laden with multiple layers of voice and agency in the context of its production and reception. The paper is also well-structured and, with your clear and compelling writing style, it does an excellent job of drawing readers into the musical and sociopolitical world you are addressing."

As the winning paper, "Watch Your Tone!: African Popular Music as Illocutionary Act" will be published in October 2015 in the peer-reviewed journal African Music. The award also comes with a cash prize for Lwanga and a donation in his name to an African library of his choice. Lwanga has chosen the Klaus Wachsmann Audio-Visual Archive at Makerere University (Uganda) as the recipient of this donation.

Dr. Charles Lwanga is a composer, pianist, choral conductor, and clinician in African music and dance.  He holds a PhD in Music Theory and Composition (University of Pittsburgh); a post-graduate Diploma in Music Education; as well as undergraduate degrees in Performing Arts and Law. Currently, Lwanga is pursuing a second PhD in Ethnomusicology at the University of Pittsburgh with a research focus on popular music, politics, protest, and class formation in Uganda. During the 2014 SEM meeting he was elected to the 42-member council of SEM as student representative for the period 2015–17.

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