The Janzi Awards are envisioned as an inclusive experience where outstanding achievements, innovations and diversity in Uganda’s Cultural, Creative and Performing Arts forms will be recognized and celebrated. Over 90 awards to be awarded are from various categories capturing key domains in the Industry and these include;

  1. Music
  2. Performing Arts
  3. Collecting Societies
  4. Film & Video
  5. Visual Arts & Crafts
  6. Books & Publishing
  7. Software & Innovations
  8. Cultural & National Heritage
  9. Support Services

Janzi Awards’ inaugural ceremony is scheduled to be held on the 11th of December 2021 at Kololo Independence Grounds where H.E the President will be the Guest of Honor. The Awards will be hosted by the Uganda Development Forum (UDF) which is a national network of state and non-state actors united by a shared commitment to propel sustainable socio-economic development in line with the aspirations of the people of Uganda, as articulated in Uganda Vision 2040.

The Janzi Awards were first introduced at the culmination of meetings, trainings, and other consultative engagements with different stakeholders in the Cultural, Creative and Performing Arts Sector that have been happening across the country over the course of the year. The main aim was to explore ways of streamlining the sector with a view of unlocking its potential for job and wealth creation.  It was unveiled by the Chief Coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation and Chairman of the Uganda Development Forum on an occasion officiated by the Prime Ministry of Uganda as well as the Chairman of the Uganda National Cultural Forum in Gulu.

The Awards are named after the Janzi Instrument, which is a string instrument that was invented by the musician James Ssewakiryanga. The name was inspired by the Luganda word for grasshopper which is Ejjanzi who’s spirit and natural form is mirrored and inculpated in the design and feel of the instrument. The Janzi has two long wooden necks on the left and right, with a narrow space in between. It is made up of 22 strings, 11 strings on either side attached to the sound box with plastic strings. The Janzi is amplified and can be connected to any sound systems. It is a modified version of the Adungu which is an instrument originating from Northern Uganda, where the inventor used guitar pegs instead of the usual Adungu’s local wood pegs and nails.

The Janzi Awards are therefore inspired by the instrument by way of celebrating and promoting the ingenuity and diversity of Uganda’s homegrown innovations and recognizing the value and contribution of creatives and artists in promoting the nations culture, promoting social harmony, cohesion and unity through their different trades. The inaugural Janzi Awards in 2021 will be a watershed moment that will drive a major cultural shift in the creative sector.

The Creative economy and industries are still in the stages of infancy in Uganda as is with most of Sub-Saharan Africa, as our continent’s economies remain heavily resource dependent. However, they are burgeoning, and they are set to provide the country with real economic traction, a hub of cultural heritage with the opportunity to diversify its economy while at the same time stimulating social, cultural and political development.

Furthermore, the cultivation/exploration of creative and cultural industries such as Music is imperative to satisfy the demands of a labor market dominated by an ever-increasing youth bulge. The fact that over 70 % of the people in Uganda are aged between 15 and 30 (with projections of these figures doubling by 2040 as per different economic reports), further contributes to the prospects of innovative and entrepreneurial strategies that will significantly boost the creative and cultural industries of the continent.   From the continental perspective Africans are expected to reach a population of two billion by 2050, the majority under the age of 35, translating into a new consumer class.

The Janzi Awards organizers recognize the sector’s high multiplier effect for wealth and job creation plus social inclusion which are good vehicles for economic empowerment, national unity & harmony as well as development. A recent study found that the Culture and Creative Performing Arts Industry is the 2nd most interlinked sector in Uganda, coming after construction.  Moreover,  it collectively contributes significantly to Uganda’s National Output. For Instance, it contributed up to 3% to the GDP in 2017 (Tindyebwa; 2020). This makes it a very influential sector of Uganda’s socio-cultural livelihood and politico-economic stability, a boon to attract the attention’s key stakeholders including government. In addition, the extreme economic shocks and effects on the industry recently triggered by the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic has created a need to re-focus and re-adjust mechanisms and methods with regards to engagement, production, marketing and even consumption of creative products.

Uganda Development Forum is hosting the Janzi awards as a world-class Music awards ceremony and programme of activities to bring together different live experiences of Uganda’s cultural and musical entertainment to millions of fans and followers in Uganda and beyond. This is part of the many ongoing efforts to harness the opportunities and promise of the Creative Arts industry and connect Ugandans to each other.

Therefore, for the inaugural edition, the overall agenda will be aligned to the various plans and strategies for Uganda’s Cultural Renaissance such as those captured in the NDPIII, which constitutes significant provisions for the promotion of cultural diversity, cultural identity and streamlining of the industry for greater contribution to the national transformation. Under the theme; Uganda for Us, Us for Uganda Janzi Awards aims at inspiring the industry players to dream bigger and worker harder to re-create and rebuild a stronger creative industry in Uganda that is much more sustainable and gainful for all.

a. To recognize and celebrate outstanding creations across the industry

b. Provide a platform for industry players and contribute to its transformation narrative and mobilize greater participation and inclusiveness across the country.

c. Promote the cultural heritage of Uganda and stimulate dialogue about great potential and values of the African culture and artistic heritage.

d. Identify challenges in the implementation of strategies related to the promotion of Uganda’s cultural, creative and performing arts industry.

e. Stimulate advocacy among the media and strategic stakeholders to project the benefits of the Ugandan creative industry as a driver of economic and socio-political development.

The Awards will sustain and achieve these objectives through various activities involving the culture, business and entertainment sectors of the Ugandan economy in a hybrid of both physical attendance of the ceremony and different live experiences through different mediums such as TV, Radio and Digital platforms such as Social media, Virtual Reality etc.

A catalogue of submissions will be made public for the masses to vote through different channels after which the top contenders will be subject to scrutiny by a panel of judges. The panel will be composed of individuals who are the authorities in the different industry domains with different specialties but can also offer value in different spheres or disciplines.