Monday Music: Philly Lutaaya for World AIDS Day

A few weeks ago I wrote about Philly Lutaaya in my post on Ugandan music. He was perhaps the first African musician to be public about his HIV status in 1989.

His disclosure, and his song about the experience of having AIDS, which called upon everyone to ‘show love and understanding’ and ‘fight AIDS’, inspired a whole generation of Ugandans to mobilise against HIV.

I like this video because from about halfway through it shows images of HIV campaigns from around the world — like a tribute to all the people who, like Philly Lutaaya, have taken up the challenge to fight HIV & AIDS. Although I’m not that excited about it musically, it had me in tears today, remembering HIV-positive friends who have died.

Lutaaya died not long after recording Alone, but I think he would have been proud of his legacy. More than 20 years later, in a new era of promise and hope for an end to HIV, a big crowd of popular Ugandan musicians are singing about HIV. It sounds like a direct response to Lutaaya’s appeal as they sing: we are here for you.

And that’s how HIV will be defeated.

You can also view Lutaaya performing live here, but the synchronisation isn’t good, and I found it too distracting.

And here, you can hear the original speech in which he disclosed he had HIV, being read by one of his fans.

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