To the surprise of the artists in this infectious dance presenting ghetto kids in Uganda, their video has gone viral with nearly five million global viewers. Originally uploaded to YouTube in January, their homemade video presents choreographed dance moves that critics and both live and online audiences alike are consuming with pleasure.
The dance group, simply called Ghetto Kids, rehearses daily with their trainer, Dauda Kavuma, to perfect their style and routines. The children who dance seek recognition, but also funds to give back to their communities – their families and friends.
Their trainer, Mr. Kavuma, is a math teacher in Kampalu, Uganda, and originated the concept of the group to help impoverished children in his own neighborhood. He was inspired by his own background of poverty and wanted to improve the lots of others while they were still children, to help them find a way to pay for their education.
Many of the child dancers in Ghetto Kids find their origin in the slums of Kampalu. Group members often use the money they receive for their dance performances to provide food, better housing for their families, and to return to school.
Dancers report that being part of the group has changed their lives for the better. Some of the kids tell how, prior to joining the dance troupe, they used to beg for food and, if turned down, would search through garbage cans for their next meal.
From a humble beginning, when their homemade video went viral in January, the Ghetto Kids are now creating their own songs and developing professional videos of their infectious dance style, sparking excitement throughout Uganda. One of their biggest dances to go big is a song by the celebrated Uganda Afropop artist, Eddy Kenzo.
Born Musuuza Edrisa, Kenzo’s song Sitya Loss, translated as “I Don’t Fear Losing,” released in April 2014, teaches about the preciousness of life. It states how it is important, even when losses occur, to seize the moment and live life to its fullest, enjoying even simple moments. The song goes on to say that losses need not be feared when people are in charge of their own lives and develop their strength in their youth.
The motivation for Kenzo’s song was the loss of his mother at age five. In 2009 he launched his first album. His goal is to inspire and teach, as well as entertain people through his music. The song, Sitya Loss, is highly acclaimed in Uganda and has motivated fans to post dance videos in response.
By far, the most popular is that of the Ghetto Kids. The group consists of several boys, whose jostling turns into agile and artistic upbeat dance moves, and a girl, dancing with gymnastic feats. In their viral video, they perform in front of a “slum” area of Uganda, along a dirt road.
Kenzo himself had his beginning as a “ghetto kid,” after the death of his mother. He felt lost and without direction, and was unable to continue school. He tried to make it on the streets until he got work selling sodas at a football stadium, where he got a break due to his football skills and he earned an educational scholarship.
Kenzo’s musical breakthrough came after high school in 2008 with a song called Yanimba. It is the combined efforts of Kenzo’s music and the infectious dancing of the Ghetto Kids that has made the video below go viral and create a spark in Uganda and across the globe.
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By Fern Remedi-Brown