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Bobi Wine, A Name That Inspires Change in Uganda was first published in a series on Iyunade Blog Facebook Page
“Musical innovation is full of danger to the whole state, and ought to be prohibited. When modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the state always change with them,” Plato. That’s how we ended the last post. As I said, the above quote by Plato looks more like a warning. However, it is a wakeup call for artistes who think about the welfare of their fans and followers.
We have seen the connection between music as a tool for political expression in many cultures. There are artists that have transmitted strong political messages in their songs. Music has been used as a tool for raising awareness and advocacy in many countries. Most recently, we have seen the case of Bobi Wine (Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu), a Ugandan musician who is also member of parliament.
After the 2016 elections in Uganda, Bobi wine released a song, “Situka!” which he used to challenge Ugandan politicians to work towards ending corruption and injustice in the country. Checkout this lines from the song: “When the going gets tough, the tough must get going, especially when our Leaders have become Misleaders and Mentors have become Tormentors. When freedom of expression is met with suppression and oppression.”
Bobi Wine became very famous for championing the victories of many candidates he supported during by-elections beating candidates of the dictatorial party in power. His arrest on August 15, 2018 did not only lead to demonstrations in Uganda, but affected neighboring Kenya as Kenyan MPs threatened to stage demonstrations in Kampala if he wasn’t released within a week. The mention of the name Bobi Wine in Uganda makes authorities shiver. He is not just an artiste but a face that stands for the suffering Ugandans.
We still have fresh in our minds what popular urban music (Coupé-décalé, Sagacité, Zouglou) did in the politico-military crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. I can still remember the “David Contre Goliath” decrying the involvement of the international community in the affairs of Côte d’Ivoire. I call on you to listen again to the “LIBERER MON PAYS” song by a collective of Ivorian musicians during the crisis. It touches the soul deeply. It got real meaning and was very timely.
The backlash towards the artistes who sang for peace in Cameroon in my opinion came as a result of them not representing the aspirations of their fans. Most of their fans saw in the peace song a government-engineered move to preach the so much peace they have been broadcasting, even though the people think they need justice first. If it was of their own making, then I will be tempted to say they lost base with their fans. They may have been enjoying their royalty and forgot about the needs of people who put them there.
By Lobga Kermann Derick for Iyunade Blog