The Cranes were one of Uganda’s most popular teenage bands in the 1970’s. Founded in 1965, they metamorphosed at the end of the 1970’s into the Afrigo Band which is still, up to today, the number one band in the country. What’s love and Joy, both written by singer and guitarist Tony Senkebejje, appeared in 1974 on the only Cranes’ LP ‘Top Ten Hits’.
When the album hit the record stores in Kampala, bad luck had befallen The Cranes. A month before the recording of the album their bass player Jessy Kasirivu was killed because of President Idi Amin’s amorous association with his girlfriend. Senkebejje, scared for his life, fled to Kenya, only returning to Uganda 15 years later. The song What’s love describes how confusing love can be to a young soul and is partly inspired by Kasirivu’s death. Joy is a love song for Senkebejje’s wife Rachel who followed him to Kenya and who has been singing lead and playing guitar with him in their Simba Sounds Band ever since. Both songs feature prominently in the documentary Bwana Jogoo: the ballad of Jessy Gitta (2019 – 70 min – UG/NL/FR) which investigates the death of Jessy Kasisirvu at the hands of Idi Amin‘s State Research agents. Bwana Jogoo, directed by Dutch filmmaker Michiel van Oosterhout, showcases many great 1970’s songs from Uganda while letting Uganda’s musicians of yesteryears recount fond memories of one of their own, Jessy Kasirivu. These are the folks that worked and socialized with Jessy and knew him better than most. Their accounts of the events that led to Jessy’s disappearance are riveting and haunting. It lays bare a hitherto unexplored subject and one deserving of serious interrogation and scholarship – the naked power of authoritarianism and sexual predation.
A) The Cranes ‘What’s Love’
B) The Cranes ‘Joy’