Legendary Acholi Music Icon Ogwang Clipper Laid To Rest

Posted on Oct 05, 2020
By LTAuthor


The Chief Justice of Uganda Mr Alfonse Owinyo-Dolo on Saturday joined hundreds mourners to send off legendary Uganda musician, Ogwang Clipper in Olupe village, Gere Gere sub-county, Agago District. He described the late OGWANG Clipper as the greatest hero in traditional music/ Nanga in Acholi and Uganda at large. 

Ogwang Clipper Philips who performs as Ogwang Phillips his parents gave birth to eight of them but only are alive him and his sister Nekolina Akot who is married in Olupe Agoro clan. He didn't attend formal education but he obtained key lessons at fireplace ''Wang Oo" 

The late Ogwang was born in 1st January 1936 and died on 24 

Mr. Owiny Dolo who was also the chief mourners said Ogwang Clipper was the best Nanga musician in Uganda who started his career at his teenage age.

"He added that Ogwang many awards and had been a good entertainer who went abroad in many countries to entertain."

He appealed to the Acholi people to love their tribe and tradition as Ogwang did.

He encourages Acholi to listen to words in Ogwang clippers song and understand because it has good message that can teach and change Acholi to get back to real tradition.

However. Mr. Owiny Dolo appreciated the president of Uganda for offering 10millions shillings to the family of clipper. He tasked the family to properly manage the shillings to pay grandchildren school fees.

Mr Dolo promised together with other stakeholders to open Ogwang Clipper's foundation where Acholi can get traditional activities.

1954: Started learning to sing from the fire place from his late Father. He would be watching closely how his Father would be playing the Nanga in the evening. In the morning, when his dad has gone to the garden, he would steal the Nanga from his dad’s house and learn how to play. He said, his dad would often realise that he has tampered with the Nanga and quarrel till when he gave up, and that is how he finally learnt to play the instrument.

1968: Released the first song, titled BONYO LAGARA, bonyo ocamo kal ma oromo kodi. 

This song was based on the occurrence then; he said bonyo is a locust scourge that destroys crops. They are of 2 types;
1. BONYO LAGARA which totally  destroys a plant from its roots. 
2. BONYO ABUM, which is less dangerous and eats only part of the plant.

At that time, Bonyo Lagara was causing havoc in his area.
 Second, third and fourth songs released:
MARA, mara man loko calo otel poto kot. He said this song was a description of the over talkative mother-in-law, comparing her to the peck birds at onset of rain.
CAN LUBU KORA KEDE ARUK CUT (SUIT) - a description of how poverty can follow a person whether dressed in a suit.

BEDO WOKO MA KI KERO AKERA - kede icwe, komi olil onyo ijony, Amin neno ni in irac. He said this song was in description of how Idi Amin was punishing people, whether you are fat, thin etc. So, it’s like they were forcing themselves to stay outside home.

BEST AND MOST LOVED SONG - NGOM KWARO TYE MALO.tye Agago. He says, he always missed home and longed for when he would return to his ancestral home, since he was living outside home most of the time. It’s the song he reflected on when his son came to pick him back from Kitgum in 2017, to OLUPE OPONG, GERE GERE where he has settled in his ancestral home to date.
Out of his unique compositions, he sung one song against Idi Amin titled: 

“Kede iwoto ni ngany ngany, Kampala loko ki leb Acholi, Kampala dong ki wan”

The song was basically forecasting regime change, and alerting Amin that his time in power was about.

These, he said was an emotional composition against the acts of brutality by Amin’s regime. Whether you are fat or thin, tall or short, rich or poor it’s as if Amin’s regime didn’t like you and would wreak havoc on you anyhow.

This song almost costs his life as Amin learnt that it was a song preaching regime change, so wondered how he knew and was predicting his downfall. 

By God’s Grace, one of his friends, Omoya from Paibona in Gulu called and alerted him and the Manager of Hilltop Hotel, Kitgum, for the coming of Amin’s spy team to arrest and kill them. He spoke in Acholi parable that “Opi pic” was on the way to arrest and kill him. Opi pic, is a description of some wild bird that move in pairs to abduct chicken. The first one runs very fast and kicks to coma the chick, then the second one comes and carries it away.  

A spy team was on their way to Kitgum to arrest and kill him and the Manager. When they arrived at the Hotel, he was there, and with the Manager, they received them.

Despite knowing that, they had come to arrest and kill them, they remained and even interacted with the assailants. He even witnessed the arrest of the then Hon MP for Agago, Jino Obonyo before finally escaping from the killers, till when escaped on seeing that the arrest of people on the list had intensified.

NANGA SONGS COMPOSED - 458. To date, Clipper has played a total of 458 Nanga songs.

1956-1957: Learnt how to play guitar and emerged Champion in Agago, Omoro and Chua then later represented Northern Uganda in guitar entertainment before retiring from playing the instrument in 1960.
His main competitor and second best in guitar playing, was Nekolari Oyee (RIP)

1960-1962: Explored his talent in the Larakaraka (courtship dance). He proudly mentions how he WAS A LOCAL ORAK CHAMPION IN COMPOSING ORAK SONGS, and gives a vivid memory of how he sung against the mother of Opio Mikele and his brother till when they reported the matter to the Sub County Chief, then Abunoni Lagen commonly refered to as Obutu Lii. 

In another song, he sung against Opio, in a community festival in Lacek village till when Opio conceded defeat before the Chief that he won’t compete with Kilipa in singing. In the dance arena, Opio was helpless as the young ladies were just avoiding him. The song was titled: AA, WAN WACITO BIWANG, MON UC KI MYEL NI KI TWONO OPIO KABUTU…..This song sent Opio off scene to the extent that even his in-laws and the young girls around rejected him. He then pleaded with him, that they go back to the Chief to withdraw from their race to compete. He conceded defeat and was witnessed by the Chief.

1962-1963: STARTED A DINGI-DINGI DANCE TEAM. At that time, there was traditional dance competition and IGP Eronayo Oryema was sent to select the best performing teams for a regional completion. Out of 11 teams, his team emerged the best and was selected alongside another team from Opete and Kitgum and were sent to Gulu, thereafter to EGYPT, NIGERIA, and WEST GERMANY. It’s at that time, while in Egypt that he INITIATED THE FORMATION OF HEARTBEAT AFRICA, a traditional dance union.

He then later resumed his famous Nanga music, which he can still sing the lyrics very well to date, but due to health problems can’t play the instrument well now.

Clipper says, in his youthful days, there were these common dances for different purposes, and danced at different times:

1. MYEK KOT - is a dance led by old women to ask the gods for rain.
2. MYEL KAC - this dance is to celebrate bumper harvest and mainly led by women.
3. MYEL KENY/Larakaraka courtship dance - where the best male dancer is identified by his girlfriend by the way he shakes his head gear (Acikono phrase used then). This is mainly led by the youth.

4. LAMUYA dance inherited from the Karimojong (This was a dance to incite violence against another group). The common song in that is: Kori koringole, ikoringole….cen pa jo acon tye I wangi.
Other work experiences:

1971-1979: Worked as an Entertainer with Uganda Hotels, with the main task being entertaining guests in the evening hours as assigned.

1986-1991: Worked as a Nursing Assistant in Kitgum Hospital when most of the health workers had run away because of insurgency. He basically supported in caring for war victims, who came to seek treatment of their wounds at the facility.

1990s to date: Traditional Doctor, with proven talents in treating amongst others:
1. Two Lubanga or two cola (A sickness that causes the bending of the chest of the victim)
2. Snake bites
3. Treating pregnancy cases. These, he said he has traditional medicine that minimises/ heals extreme pains experienced by women always.

Other games:
He learnt and practiced the Lawala game, which shaped his hunting skills. Lawala game was basically to teach the young skills to trap and shoot wild animals.

We should love our culture, uphold respect for the old, love, and never forget our roots, even if we attain a bigger status in life.

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