In 1982, when a person got killed while moving on the streets of Kampala at 5pm, people would argue that he was moving late in the night.
Yet, this didn’t stop people from enjoying life within their means, apparently – one of the places to be was Chez Johnson, a high end bar that was located around the Parliament Avenue just opposite the present day Kampala Capital City Authority offices.
It was a place to be because it was a walkable distance to one building on Kampala road that presently houses the United Bank of Africa (UBA) where artiste Diplock Ssegawa had an office.
“The office was like a sanctuary for artistes that found it unsafe trek to other parts of the city when it was late,” Ssegawa says.
Some of the artistes that would come to the office were a trio Denis Sempebwa, Paul Mutebi and Isaac Rucibigango who would later become Limit X, a group that went on to become one of the most successful gospel music outfits in Uganda and the continent.
Together, the group had gained a lot of fame thanks to their collaboration TV hosting gig with Pastor Robert Kayanja on UTV, recorded five albums and travelled the world before stopping in 2002.
“We made a lot of music on the road, got married on the road and started families on the road,” says Rucibigango.
On Friday, after fifteen years without performing, Limit X at Serena Hotel, a walkable distance from what used to be a security sanctuary put up one of the best shows a comeback act has staged on a Ugandan stage.
Together, for the first time, they danced, locked, rocked and hit the high notes like they did way before half of their audience could even afford a cell phone.
Since they performed in the early nineties, it wasn’t surprising that many people either had no idea of who they were or were not familiar with most of their songs – others knew the songs but didn’t know the titles.
Produced by Fenon Entertainment, Limit X Timeless, as the show was code named was an ultimate throwback for many of the older people in the audience while a memory flash for the younger ones.
With songs like the opening Follow You, you could hear a young person gushing about hearing the song first on Turning Point, a famous inspirational TV show at the time, they would take us to more trips in the past with breaks where they shared personal stories.
For instance, Mutebi told us about starting all over again to become a pharmacist even after practicing as an engineer for long, while before welcoming Sempebwa’s son to jam with them on a song, Ruccibigango had shared a little story about their life on the road.
The group even without performing for long has managed to gel with the current trends of music that even when it was funk, they always found ways of getting people dance to a sound they are farmiliar with – thus, even when the throwback 1980s RnB feel was present, there was something for the younger generation to dance to.
At the height of their success, Limit X had competition from another gospel music outfit, the difference though, just like they were an all boy outfit, the competition was all female with acts like the present KCCA Executive Director Jennifer Musisi and UNRA’s Allen Kagina among others.
Thus the defining moment was seeing Musisi hold a microphone to sing, surprisingly, she still has it, she managed to sync with the band even when it was clear she had not rehearsed.
The group was backed by session players like Pragmo N’saiga on the keys, Michael Kitanda on the saxophone, Roy Kasika on the drums, Charmant Mushaga on the electronic guitar and Jay Bugoma on the Purcussions among others .
They group closed the night off with mostly African fusion songs like Abba Father, Miracle and of course the crowd’s favorite, Malibongwe that got everyone on their feet.
For artistes that have not been before a microphone as performers, Limit X outdid themselves and raised the bar for people pausing as artistes today.
“This was like a class, these guys have not only challenged us, this was a lecture,” said Jackie Akello, an inspirational folklore artiste.
Originally published by The Observer