Samite's Joyous Music Brings the Crowd to Its Feet - Kingswood Oxford

Creative Arts News

November 02, 2023

Samite’s Joyous Music Brings the Crowd to Its Feet

On October 27, our Wyverns were treated to the joyful music of Samite, an African musician, flute, and kalimba player, through the Goodman Banks Visiting Artist Series. Ugandan by birth, Samite fled his country in 1982 and was a political refugee in Kenya before immigrating to the U.S. in 1987.

In addition to singing in his lilting voice, Samite played the kalimba, a wooden board with attached staggered metal tines that are plucked. An acoustic guitar and traditional African drums also accompanied Samite. He also interspersed personal stories throughout his set – some tender and some playful. In one interlude, Samite shared his distress at seeing many homeless people on the streets of New York City when he first arrived in this country. This experience inspired the beautiful acoustic song, “My Name is Not Homeless; My Mother Calls Me Baby, recognizing the humanity in the most vulnerable among us.


He left New York City because he felt he was always under suspicion and relocated to Ithaca, New York, the home of Cornell University. He shared his impressions of the locale as a place full of vegetarians – a difficult transition for a carnivore. “To survive in Ithaca, I pretended to be a vegetarian.” Before dining at a friend’s home, he would eat a large piece of beef since he knew the menu would be limited to sprouts and tofu. Ironically, Samite said he is now a vegetarian


His performance also included bringing the Upper School full choir on stage, who rehearsed with him a  moving song, “Ani Oyo.” In his note accompanying the song, Samite writes,  “The name of the song is “Ani Oyo” which means “who is out there?” in my native language, Luganda. This is the time to reach out to those who are scared, alone, and unsure of the future. It is time to share our love and our time with others.”

At the end of Samite’s performance, the audience erupted in a call and response during the song “Kaleba,” which elevated the already happy vibe. Audience members rose from their seats and paraded around Roberts Theater, dancing to “Bulimuntu.”


After his performance, Samite took questions from the audience. One student asked how Samite composes music. He said most of the music he writes comes to him in his dreams, and he has a tape recorder beside his bed.  He shares the melody with his musicians, who improvise the basic structure. His guitar player (an aficionado of Eddie van Halen and Def Leopard) interjected that Samite sends him on ” a wild goose chase.” The song is revised several times until they eventually “find the spot.”


Another student asked what Samite’s favorite song was by another artist, and he unexpectedly said a song he used to cover as a young man, “The First Cut is the Deepest” by Rod Stewart. 



Another student, Sinani Sebadduka ’24, asked Samite what part of Kampala he hailed from. Recognizing perhaps a familiar inflection in Sinani’s voice, a visibly moved Samite said, “Oh wow! Someone from Uganda. That is very special to me. Very special.”


Samite believes in the restorative power of music. On his website, he states, “While performing, I see that people are able to forget their differences and join as one in the moment. My hope is for that moment to last. If we can make that moment last, the world will be a better place.”


Here’s to more music to heal a hurting world.


Set list:

Kambu Angeles

Silina Musango



Ani Oyo



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