Hi, I am Opiyo Oloya.

I was born in Gulu town in Northern Uganda. My real education happened on the savanna where we used to chase after goats and cows in the field. I learned all that I needed to survive in that world. However my formal education took me to several interesting places:

I graduated with a political science degree and hold a masters degree in education. I thoroughly enjoy this job; the kids make me laugh in spite of myself.

My interests in music started at an early age. In fact, I can't remember a day when music was not a part of my life. I remember how we would wake up to one or the other of my brothers whistling in the brisk morning wind. Later in the day, as she pounded millet or grounded simsim paste, my mother would be humming a tune. I grew up surrounded by music and learned to play basic tunes on the lukeme (mbira).

African pop music first came to me through the radio, which we used to carry around everywhere, even when we working in the fields. Radio Kinshasha and Bunya (both in Zaire) were our favourite stations. This is how I first learned names like Zaiko Langa Langa, Empire Bakuba, Lipua Lipua and Bella Bella, all upstart groups in the 70s. Franco and Rochereau were already big in the 60s on Radio Uganda.

As a result, I grew appreciating and even longing for languages like Lingala and Kiswahili, neither of which I could understand at the time.

Today, I have learned to appreciate roots music from around the world. I must add that since coming to North America, I have discovered the music of west, north and south Africa. This is because there were strong regional barriers in Africa when it came to the diffusion of music.

I do a popular weekly African music show called Karibuni on CIUT 89.5 FM in Toronto. I also write a monthly review of world music for The Word, an African entertainment magazine in Toronto.
Now tell me about yourself and why you enjoy African music...

Opiyo Oloya

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