In Uganda, funerals are not only viewed as a way of mourning the dead but also as an opportunity to showcase culture and tradition. For generations, funeral musicians have played an important role in honoring the deceased with their traditional instruments and songs. However, this rich tradition is fading away as DJs become more popular at funerals.
According to local funeral musicians, they are being sidelined by modern technology and changing tastes. The younger generation prefers DJ music over traditional music because it is more lively and upbeat. Additionally, many families choose DJs because they offer a wider selection of music genres compared to traditional musicians who specialize in certain styles.
The shift towards using DJs at funerals has left many traditional musicians struggling to make ends meet. Many have been forced to find other sources of income or even retire from their craft altogether. This has led some experts to argue that the decline of funeral music may have far-reaching effects on Ugandan culture.
Despite this trend, there are still some families who value tradition over modernity and continue to hire funeral musicians for their loved ones' send-offs. These families view traditional music not just as entertainment but also as a way of preserving cultural heritage.
As one family member put it: "We wanted our father's burial ceremony to be unique... We believe that having live performances by our cultural singers will give him honor."
It remains unclear whether the trend towards using DJs at funerals will continue or if there will be a resurgence in demand for traditional funeral music in Uganda. For now, however, it seems that this once-vibrant aspect of Ugandan culture is slowly fading away.
This article was written based on interviews with local funeral musicians and family members conducted by Global Press Journal.