Achilla Rufino Orru


Achilla Orru1


“Sad news that Ugandan musician Achilla Orru has passed away. Blind since the age of seven, Achilla grew to become a master of the lukembé. After settling in Canada, he recorded three CDs and earned a Juno nomination in 2005 for his album Dho-Mach (Sacred Gift).  Many will have heard the cascading sounds of his thumb piano in Toronto’s subways and on the Barefoot Dancer TV series, Achilla’s sunny disposition will be greatly missed.”  Nicholas Jennings (Facebook)

“Very sad. He was an immense talent and a gentle person. This is a great loss for Toronto’s African music community.”  Derek Andrews (Facebook)

“I remember having a couple of rehearsals before going to Cuba with Achilla, Melissa and Doriann, probably about 10 years ago. Just imagine someone who is essentially a rock/Top 40 bass player having to learn his music. Me:  “What do you mean the bass doesn’t come in until the 3rd beat of the bar?” 😉 Achilla appeared to be quite happy to have me on short notice and was a pillar of patience with my Western musical vices. I know I was more stressed than him about the situation. This also gave me a first-hand appreciation of what Godfrey brought to the band as its regular bass player.
And then, being the only male in our group, I still remember the first time I guided Achilla to the washroom in a crowded local, non-touristy Cuban tavern. I think I said something like “Maybe it’s a good thing you can’t see this Achilla”. Ever optimistic, he laughed and replied “Well at least it doesn’t smell so bad”.
I remember I’d taken an acoustic guitar with me as well, and the second day we were there (guests of Elizabeth at the Ugandan ambassador’s residence) he asked if he could borrow it for a few minutes. You could hear the guitar riffs echoing throughout the halls of the grand old building and he finally emerged from his room 2 or 3 hours later ‘Greg, I really like your guitar’. ”  Greg Todd

“I am at a loss for words.This is so sad.What a great talent he was. I will miss him. Thank goodness he has left such beautiful music behind.I will always remember his smile. his legacy will live for ever. RIP my dear brother.”  Emerita Emerencia (Facebook)

“The things I most remember about Achilla are 2 events: He played in my garden at my retirement party. It was beautiful. He played with another blind musician and I am sorry I didn’t record it. so many people commented on the music that seemed to fit so well in the secluded space that is my garden in the summer. I won’t forget how Achilla gave his best as he always did, and his voice soared as in a real African setting.

The other thing I remember was taking him to Allan Garden in the winter partly because it has that tropical scent and humidity that we so welcome in the winter. I took a lot of photos and talking with Achilla afterwards he said he “couldn’t wait to see the photos”….what a guy!

His ability to function so well as a blind person living a full life speaks to his vast courage that we all respected.

He will be sadly missed.”     Virginia Brooks

“We will always love and remember you.”  Nadine McNulty (Facebook)

“Walk good.” Charmaine Headley (Facebook)


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