The deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa’s post on X (formerly Twitter) asking for a musical battle between two of Uganda’s leading artistes, Jose Chameleone and Bebe Cool, has stirred social media debate about his social and political life with many of his followers on the microblogging app, questioning his interest in a country they argue, is currently facing several challenges.
Through his X handle, the Ruhinda North County MP wrote saying “I am relishing a live performance battle between these two titans of Uganda’s music industry. Whoever can organize it has my full support. @BebeCoolUG @josechameleoni.”
— Thomas Tayebwa (@Thomas_Tayebwa) September 24, 2023
The September 24 post stirred a social media storm as some of his followers asked him to direct his focus “towards organizing and enacting legislation aimed at enhancing Uganda’s economic performance, rather than becoming overly enthusiastic about music concerts.”
Some of the fans in the Deputy Speaker’s corner were TV personality Samson Kasumba and former Police Political Commissar, AIG (rtd) Asan Kasingye.
“Why are you like this? When other people in politics sing you never have a problem. The Deputy Speaker has a social life and he is entitled to it. People have more to their lives than their work and we are all like that. You want to fix his life to just his work? That is unfair,” Kasumba wrote in response to human rights activist, Daniel Kawuma who holds the view that the Generation X vocal politician’s focus should be more on legislation than entertainment.
Citing the example of the ancient Roman empire, Kawuma argued that the Speaker’s post was, perhaps a diversion.
“The Romans maintained their tradition by organizing games on a regular basis, typically hosting them around 10 to 12 times per year. These games were financially supported by the emperor and served the purpose of entertaining and engaging the impoverished and unemployed populace. The underlying objective of the emperor was to divert the attention of the poor away from their impoverished conditions, aiming to prevent potential uprisings or revolts,” he said.
In a follow up post, however, the Speaker reminded those condemning him that he’s not a robot before explaining how much the entertainment industry contributes to the country’s GDP.
“Reading through the comments on my suggestion for a battle between @BebeCoolUG and @josechameleoni, I am surprised at how some Ugandans can think that because one occupies a critical position in government, he/she should be like a robot without a life and empathy. To say there are more important things to do than promoting the music industry is a clear indication of the neglect, stigmatisation, and a lack of understanding of what this sector contributes to our GDP. The global creative industry, according to Goldman Saachs is worth over $150bn,” posted the 42-year-old politician who subscribes to the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM).
Quoting the Uganda Performance Rights Society stats, Tayebwa argues that by 2030 over 500,000 people will be directly employed by the industry and generating about Shs280 billion in revenue.
“Currently, it contributes Ugx140bn to our economy. It stimulates our tourism sector with global stars such as @eddykenzoficial, @ghettokidsug, among others, selling Uganda to the world. As leaders, we can not ignore such a sector. It needs alot of support ranging from legal reforms to deliberate economic interventions. Moreover, music heals and some of us seek refugee in it when the going gets tough. LET THE BATTLES GO ON!” he said.
Reading through the comments on my suggestion for a battle between @BebeCoolUG and @josechameleoni, I am surprised at how some Ugandans can think that because one occupies a critical position in government, he/she should be like a robot without a life and empathy. To say there…
— Thomas Tayebwa (@Thomas_Tayebwa) September 26, 2023