The family of the late Prof George Wilberforce Kakoma, the composer of the National Anthem has donated to the Uganda Museum his once revered Bernhard Steiner piano.
Prof Kakoma, a graduate from Trinity College of Music is remembered in Ugandan history for composing the lyrics "Oh Uganda, Land of Beauty" which was adopted by cabinet in 1962 as the country’s National Anthem. Kakoma passed on in April 8, 2012 aged 89.
The former music teacher left behind a piano, a guitar, a violin and a collection of music books, among other items, which the family says will be donated to the museum and to other institutions.
Kakoma's chocolate brown piano will be given to the museum, where it can be preserved in honour of his musical legacy, the widow Maria Theresa Kakoma told URN in an interview.
Mrs Kakoma, now aged 80, does not recall the year in which Kakoma acquired the precious instrument, but hastens to add that it was long before Uganda's independence in 1962.
Bernhard Steiner Pianos were first manufactured by Dietmann Klavier, Hamburg, Germany in 1886 before the company moved its operations to South Africa in 1903. The brand was a part of the Kahn Pianos Group, a family business owned by the Kahn family, one which enjoys international reputation in piano manufacturing.
Although they are no longer in production, Bernhard Steiner Pianos were highly rated in the music industry for their solid spruce soundboard and acoustic chamber. Today, they are sold at not less than $5000 (Shs 18 million).
She adds that previously, the family would invite students to their home, where they would use the same piano for learning purposes. The practice was suspended in order to preserve the music instruments, which, according to her, the deceased held so dear.
“The one [piano] we had at Ntinda is still there. I am planning to donate it to Uganda Museum so that small children can see that this is the instrument that the professor used to compose with. His best instrument was the piano. It is a Steiner”, Mrs Kakoma said.
She added that a collection of Kakoma's music books and scripts will be donated to Makerere University School of Music while other books on culture, tradition, history and education and songs from Buganda that belonged to Kakoma would be donated to Uganda Bookshop.
She believes that the only way to pass on such knowledge is to make it available to the people who need it.
“Wherever we lived we had a piano. His best instrument was a piano and maybe the violin. So before we came here, we had our own house at Ntinda and we reserved one room that we used to call the piano room. Some students used to come to our house for music lessons.”
The commissioner for museums and monuments Rose Mwanja welcomes the gesture from the Kakoma family saying that such instruments are priceless considering the history attached to them.