Five Ugandan Socially Conscious Songs

Ugandan social media space has been in flames after a group of musicians released a song titled Tubonga Nawe praising the country’s longest serving and only living President, Mr. Yoweri Museveni and pledged to support his 2016 campaign. The song was released at a dinner attended by comedians, musicians, radio personalities and other ‘artists’. Some fans of the participating musicians are angry about the song and dinner and have taken to the pages of these ‘stars’ to express their displeasure. Songstress Juliana Kanyomozi, reggae artist Bebe Cool and comedienne Anne Kansiime are some of the hardest hit by this wave of anger and dissatisfaction.

Meanwhile, soul musician Maurice Kirya explained his turning down of the invitation to the dinner arguing that tokenism will not solve the major problems of the arts industry in Uganda. Musician Bobi Wine has not been seen among those who attended the dinner. Some of his songs have been shared widely by some of the people annoyed by the ‘endorsement’ of Mr. Museveni by some of the country’s artists (normally artists are not paid to endorse a politician, it is rather the artists who contribute money to the campaign of a politician they are endorsing). He has also been described as a socially conscious artist. Below. we present five Ugandan socially conscious songs in recent times. Some have captured the national imagination but others have not enjoyed as much airplay. Enjoy.

Bobi Wine: Time Bomb 

The song has quickly become the most shared after the Tubonga Nawe debacle. The song warns that we are sitting on a time bomb because of high prices of electricity, tribalism and other ills. It follows in the line of his earlier song Ghetto in which he, with Nubian Li, accuses politicians of forsaking the ghetto people.

Mathias Walukaga: Bakoowu 

When the song was newly released, John Abimanyi described it as “a kadongo kamu hit that paints images of what Ugandan society looks like today. The images from the song range from telling the story of what it means to live from day to day in Uganda, to having implications that could go as far as making a statement on the political standing of the day.”

Ronald Mayinja: Tuli Kubunkenke

The song, that soon became a campaign tool for opposition politicians in 2011 built on the idea of everyone being on tension.  Mayinja followed up the song with Africa that hit hard on the corruption of Africa’s leaders who he accused of selling their countries. One of the first comments following the Tubonge Nawe dinner alluded to these two songs as a fan expressed his disappointment with Mayinja’s attendance of the infamous dinner.

Bobi Wine: Tugambire ku Jennifer 

Bobi Wine does not hide that he is dissatisfied with Kampala Executive Director Jennifer Musisi’ actions in this one. He tells of the suffering of the city’s under-privileged who are the biggest victims of the city authority’s heavy handedness. It was later alleged that he was paid off by the authority when they hired him to perform at a city carnival.

Bana Mutibwa: Walk to Work 

At a Life mu City discussion at the Goethe Zentrum in Kampala moderated by Moses Serubiri, Bana Mutibwa (aka Burney MC) told us that his Walk to Work song was directly inspired by the protests against high prices that followed the 2011 elections. Bana credits Babaluku of the Bavubuka Foundation for his music ideology in Letter to Babaluku. Social consciousness is central to the Lugaflow movement that Babaluku breathed a lot of fresh air into in 2005. Babaluku’s own Tukoye eno Embela is heavily aware of the political power of music.

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