KITGUM. The unusual name by which nanga king Ogwang was well known by and easily identifiable with, was not even his actual name.
The name Kilipa, often misspelt and variously distorted as Clipper, Clippa, Klipper, or even as Slipper, is actually a misnomer.
This problematic name was reportedly popularised in Serere, Teso, in the 1950s when a female friend of poet-musician Ogwang utterly failed to correctly pronounce his name, Pilipo.
Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, writing in a WhatsApp group created for Kilipa’s ardent fans in 2019, identified the Nubian girlfriend only as Nusura.
“Pilipo got the famous misnomer Kilipa, which killed Pilipo (a corrupted Luo version of Philip), from a Nubian lady friend. She could not pronounce Pilipo; so, she corrupted it to Kilipa – with which Ogwang dominated the Acholi countryside and beyond for some sixty years,” wrote Justice Owiny-Dollo, an ardent fan and close friend of Kilipa.
And so, the mistake stuck and persisted! The peculiar name has puzzled many not initially privy to this privileged information – wondering about its origin and meaning.
Among them was William Okidi, the then United Kingdom chapter coordinator for Kilipa Honour House – the fundraising drive that was initiated by his adoring fans to build a decent retirement home for their nanga idol.
“Thanks for these most interesting details about maestro Kilipa. I was quite puzzled about his odd name, which was quite unique, kumbe it’s a misnomer,” he wrote in reply to Owiny-Dollo’s post in May 2020.
Another London-based fan, Oruni Oloya, was equally fascinated by the name.
“I have always wondered where he got the name ‘Klipper’ from. Now I know it is Philip…Pilipo even!” he commented on the same WhatsApp thread.
“Ladit Owiny-Dollo, you have treated us to a piece of history behind [the] enigmatic name of the man Klipper,” he added.
Kilipa, much later in life, also assumed the tag Morokole, the Luganda word for ‘born-again’ Christian, when he got saved in old age; a time he had also began composing gospel songs.
About Kilipa Ogwang
Born on January 1, 1936, at Olupe Opong village, Geregere Sub-county in Agago District,
He was son of Anglican catechist Nakuconi Bala of Padyang clan, and Dolofaina Angom from Oyima clan, in Apac District, Lango sub-region.
At only 22, Kilipa broke into the celebrity rank with his groundbreaking nanga recording, Bonyo lagara, in 1968. Little wonder that by the time Kilipa breathed his last at 84, on September 24, 2020, he had composed at least 458 nanga songs, averaging 50 albums of 90-minutes playing-time each, and spanning the 60 years of his career.