By Abbey Kibirige Ssemuwemba
A politician, whatever his message, can have no impact unless there are people willing to listen, and follow. And once they’re there, the politician have some responsibility to teach good, and not have his followers do evil things. Bobi Wine’s tours and music ever since he was elected as MP, are highly influential, and are not seen as mad ravings by a goodly proportion of Ugandans. Bobi has also written a few articles, and, i guess, he doesn’t publish out of stupidity, but out of conviction and hatred for the dictatorship in Uganda. He has clearly decided to make his politics, his writings and his music his life’s work.They are inextricably intertwined; you will find it impossible to do in-depth study of one without the other.
Here’s what: his music, and his fame, have made his views respectable and influential, and his music has come to represent his ideas.Political and cultural party lines are drawn with Bobi; the writings and the music have become intertwined in the culture of Uganda.His music is part of an overall literary and artistic effort on a political and social front. There is another musician called Mathias Walukagga who is trying to do the same, though he hasn’t joined politics yet. For some reason, he isn’t as popular as Bebe Cool and Chameleon,and I think its do with his wardrobe and the way he presents himself to the youths, but he should be up there.
Despite the character flaws of Bobi Wine(and I think he has got many, like his teenagish walking and sitting styles), I think it would be very foolish to dismiss his work on the basis of his opposition to Museveni’s leadership style. Whether or not his music is so anti-government, it’s not an uncommon sentiment among majority of Ugandans, and should not be used in evaluation of the validity of his artwork.
German composer,Richard Wagner, too was into politics and he used his music that way, too.Wagner made politics part of his music, and made anti-semitism part of his promotion of his own music, and used his reputation as a musician to advance his politics. I have never heard Wagner’s position in the history of anti-Semitism evaluated so hyperbolically. Iam not glad Wagner promoted his idiotic ideas through his operas, but let me strongly suggest that there is more to his ideas than antisemitism, even some ideas worth taking seriously. Wagner was so well liked by the Germans during WWI that they used his music at the death camps. Wagner considered his music to be an expression of Germanness (You might start with Barry Millington’s excellent biography of Wagner;Vintage Books.)
It is entirely possible to like Bobi’s music even while being aware of, and even studying the impact of this music on the politics of Uganda. In case you hadn’t noticed,majority of musicians and Ugandans — or at least the Stella Nyanzi-going world — has, for the most part, given up anti-Museveni ideas as a basis for most social intercourse, politics, etc.; the consequences thereof have been seen in all their horror. There’s nothing as dangerous for a leader as stopping people from criticizing you openly because you will never know what they are up to.
Again: there is nothing wrong with listening to Bobi’s music even if you are a Museveni diehard. It will not rot your teeth or make you want to drop your support for the age-limit removal. His music isn’t the sort of thing that two people play in a living room. It’s done in big concert halls, in festive atmosphere and utmost solemnity.It’s generally accepted as “meaning” something. That’s why everyone wishes to invite him to their conferences, the latest being the planned London UK Convention(by my mate, Willy Nsubuga Mutenza), and the coming FDC leaders Conference in Leeds,UK, in October this year(details attached).
As a Muslim, I now wish he composes a song, ‘A Muslim Museveni’, because i wish to see him revert to Islam. It would definitely ease on so many problems the Muslim community are facing right now. For example, Muslim unity will be accelerated, and I suspect Sheikh Kamoga and other Muslims will also finally get their freedom. Museveni already doesn’t drink alcohol and pork,and I suspect he is already circumcised because he is a man who knows the benefits of personal hygiene to human health. All we need is to get a proper ‘Shahada’ from him which is more meaningful than the fake one of pre-guerrilla war of just changing names. At the moment, there is a distorted view of Islam and Muslims in Uganda, and it hurts so badly, especially when one of their leaders is imprisoned for life over terrorism. Museveni could help us change that by starting to read the Quran word by word.
Sometimes the evil in a person pollutes his creations, sometimes it doesn’t. In this case, though I can detect a soft touch by Museveni on Bobi Wine, as he doesn’t see him as a threat as he sees his former comrades such as Kiiza Besigye, a reason I think his tours wont likely be interrupted by police. His music is only limited to influencing public view of the regime, which, if we are being honest, doesn’t worry much a lot of dictators.