The aftermath: When they chose to take sides, they had no apologies because they are entitled to their opinion. But now that the campaigns are done, their fans are beginning to show them who is boss. Ian Ortega writes.
On this day, the sun, as always, had risen from the East and set in the West. Somewhere in the Victoria Ballroom at Speke Resort Munyonyo, a group of artistes were prostrating before President Yoweri Museveni. They had just launched a campaign song to take the incumbent through the 2016 elections. For their efforts, they were rewarded with Shs400m. The President had stood with their wallets and in unison, they promised to return the favour.
The name of the song was/is Tubonga Naawe (we stand with you) and the artistes unofficially became the Tubonga Naawe crew. Immediately, they received a backlash from their fans. From Bebe Cool, Anne Kansiime, Jose Chameleone to Juliana Kanyomozi, none was spared. The more they defended their choices, the more rabid the fans became.
During the counter-culture revolutions in the United States, musicians such as Bob Dylan, Bono, and Jimi Hendrix spoke out against the establishment. Fela Kuti in Nigeria did the same. But when they side with the establishment, questions one raised about their motivations. Is it because of the pay or is it genuine support? Only the artistes can answer these questions in their hearts.
So now that the campaigns are done and President Museveni has been re-elected, we find out what is next for each of the Tubonga Naawe artistes. What are they about? Will life be the same?
1. Bebe Cool
He has always been a Museveni fanatic. In the 2011 elections, Bebe Cool made news when he chose to support Museveni instead of his father, Jaberi Bidandi Ssali, who was also contesting for the presidential seat. Throughout the 2016 campaigns, he has not only performed at the various rallies, but also used his Facebook page to praise the incumbent and highlight some of his achievements. It is suspected that even his blood turned yellow during this season. Of all the artistes, he was the first to congratulate the President upon being re-elected for the fifth term in office. Then all hell broke loose.
“Yeeeeeeeeeeee NRM oyeeeeeeeee. Congratulations Your excellence YOWERI KAGUTA MUSEVENI and the entire NRM.
I also wish to thank the Ugandan opposition for the part played during this period but mostly FDC candidate Dr KIZZA BESIGYE for representing the the minority with a different opinion. I must thank Ugandans in general for participating even strongly than ever. I thank the members of the press and security that have worked tirelessly to see this process through.”
Fans, social media bullies and opposition supporters came out to bash him. Some threatened to boycott his shows. Others scorned him for failing to complete his house. Yet, he was not moved. To one fan who vowed never to attend his concert, he replied; “don’t come.” Another fan was shocked that Bebe Cool’s English had not improved over the months after the singer wrote ‘his excellence’ instead of ‘his excellency.’ Fellow artiste A Pass commented that time would catch up with those who cared about currency and not legacy. Street rumour has it that Bebe Cool will be landing a ministerial post in the next cabinet, probably as a minister in charge of VPN.
2. Radio and Weasel
Before the Tubonga Naawe song, Moses Sekibogo, a.k.a. Mowzey Radio, had already redone his Neera song. He called upon all Ugandans to turn up in large numbers and do it again for President Museveni. Uganda’s most successful duo turned intellectuals as they congratulated the President;
“Congratulations To The new Elected President HE YOWERI KAGUTA MUSEVENI on your victory and our best wishes for your success as you prepare to take the challenges and responsibilities.
“Congs to your supporters and campaigning team.
To those who lost hard luck we trust you that your intellect, hardwork, and commitment to principles will continue for the better of our great nation.
All of you ran for office because of your concern for Uganda, the election is over but your principles should endure for the betterment of this nation. You have made extra-ordinary effort during this period not just for yourselves but also for the country we all love.
At the time like this we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing as a nation. To all our leader lets cross the aisle to do the people’s work at all levels and we should put people before politics.
For God and Our Country.”
The fans were not about to buy the story. Various fans castigated them for selling their country. Nonetheless, some fans were ready to forgive the duo.
3. Rema Namakula
The beautiful Rema is yet to congratulate the President on his successful re-election. Even though Rema and Eddy Kenzo are currently dating, the two have had divergent views about the elections. Whereas Kenzo is busy calling for the freeing of Kizza Besigye, Rema in the Tubonga Naawe song, praised the NRM government for the prevailing peace. She noted that unlike in the past where landmines and bazookas (man-portable recoilless antitank rocket launcher weapons) were the order of the day, she can now sing freely. Perhaps fans are waiting for her laudatory remarks to the President before they impose embargoes on her concerts. But will that change a thing? This couple has played their cards well and they are witnesses to the real meaning of democracy. Since Rema supports Museveni and Kenzo could be leaning towards the opposition, then Baby Aaamal must be a Mabirizi supporter.
At the launch of the Tubonga Naawe Song, the cunning Jose Chameleone came up with the idea of pulling off an Anite. To pull off an Anite implies to kneel before a person who is suspected of being a source of money. As such, Chameleone asked his fellow artistes to kneel before President Museveni and pay allegiance to the king. Many believe the President had been hesitant to pull out the brown envelope until Chameleone pulled off this Anite stroke. The rest was history. His congratulatory message to the President?
“Congratulations to the Elected President of Uganda 2016 – Y.K.Museveni.
And for all society condemning each other on who voted and supported who it’s not primary now. It’s time to reconcile and together build our nation with the greatest of our abilities. To all Friends and Fans who have thrown unkindness to me for practicing my fundamental right of choice, please stop threatening to boycott my Showcases that shows how conditional your support to me is. I have never insulted your love for other artistes simply because such is life. If I offended any of you in that manner, stay home next time I have a Show and wait for those you support unconditionally. I am Ugandan, we are Ugandans. We are all relevant to the building of a Peaceful and prosperous Uganda.”
He was candid in his message, and told all those who were hurt by his political choice to stay at home next time he holds a show. Of course, this comes from a man who has not had a hit song in the past many months. It got many wondering what shows he was speaking about. Unlike Bebe Cool’s wall, Chameleone’s had many who shared positivity, optimism and togetherness. Many swore to continue being Chameleone’s number one fans.
5. Judith Babirye
The gospel crooner has already secured her seat in the tenth parliament. She is the new Woman Member of Parliament for Buikwe District. Unlike other Tubonga Naawe artistes who have to worry about fans boycotting their shows, Babirye does not. She will now be assured of a monthly salary and allowances. But will she have time to record music? Of course, she will record the music at night after the parliamentary sessions. But with her newfound spoils, she can afford to put a music studio in her bathroom. Indeed, Jesus has been with this one!
In the past, it was believed that Bugembe and Judith Babirye could not see eye to eye. They disproved us. Bugembe featured in the Tubonga Naawe song. Not only that, he appeared at one of Judith Babirye’s rallies in Buikwe and performed for the crowds. However, he has been calculative in each and every move. For example, he has not been seen donning a yellow shirt. And yes, he has not congratulated the President in public. Talk of playing it safe, and then you have Pastor Wilson Bugembe.
The song featured Mun-G, Iryn Namubiru, Haruna Mubiru and King Saha. MUN-G made a case for his fellow drunkards when he complained about the ‘kawunyemu’ cops. King Saha had a number of performances at the NRM rallies but he has not shared a single photo or statement in the aftermath. A big chunk of his time has been spent marketing his new songs such as Science which he sang with Winnie Nwagi. Iryn Namubiru has been absent without official leave (AWOL). After sharing in the Shs400 million, she became as silent as Kampala on the day Museveni was announced winner of the 2016 elections. Not a single world has been heard from Haruna Mubiru after the Tubonga Naawe song, he’s been busy performing at introduction ceremonies.
Take Away Lessons
We have learned that Ugandan fans are not loyal. They do not believe in unconditional love. Other fans have warned that should any of these artistes fall sick, they will never contribute a coin to their fundraising drives. Many would love to see their stars sharing in their pain of broken healthcare and education systems.
The winner in all this has been Bobi Wine who chose to leverage this moment. He released a song calling for a violence-free election and peaceful transfer of power. Kadongo-Kamu artiste Fred Ssebale, who released a song praising Kizza Besigye has received big love from the fans.
Finally, going forward, we ought to ask whether musicians should have a political stance. First they, like all citizens, pay taxes, then this is a country they live in and entertain in, so shouldn’t they have a say in who gets to lead it? Others think that musicians ought to side with the people, not with the politicians.
Kraiser Kuo, a director of International Communications at Baidu.com sums it up best: “The question really isn’t what musicians say or don’t say about politics. The real issue is the weight that people give to the opinions expressed by musicians. Musicians should of course enjoy as much right to political expression as anyone else, but the people to whom they are expressing their opinions should evaluate those ideas rationally and on their own merits, without according them greater weight just because they came from someone who plays guitar well, or has a nice singing voice and great presence.”