President Yoweri Museveni’s recent cash hand-out to Ugandan musicians who recorded the praise song Tubonga Nawe (We’re With You) for his electoral campaign has left the local music industry divided.
In a rejoinder, Denmark-based Ugandan rapper Bana Mutibwa released Tetubonga Nawe (We’re Not With You) online on October 24, in Luga Flow, Uganda’s indigenised version of hip hop.
Tubonga Nawe was presented to President Museveni on October 15 at a dinner at the Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort by an all-star cast that included Jose Chameleone (Joseph Mayanja), Juliana Kanyomozi, Irene Namubiru, Wilson Bugembe, Judith Babirye, Haruna Mubiru, Rema Namakula, Mun G (Emmanuel Mungi Matovu), King Saha (Manisul Ssemanda), Radio and Weasel (Moses Nakintije Ssekibogo and Douglas Mayanja) and Bebe Cool (Moses Ssali.)
Mutibwa (Richard Walakira) said the musicians were paid Ush400 million ($111,973) by President Museveni.
In response to criticism from Ugandans, Jose Chameleone said, “I have been representing Ugandans for the past 15 years, but in this matter I am representing Joseph Mayanja. I have a right like other people to represent my own will.”
Tubonga Nawe exalts President Museveni for restoring and underwriting peace and stability, facilitating infrastructure development, promoting women’s emancipation and freedom of expression, and overseeing the growth of the entertainment industry.
Uganda’s leading opposition figure, Dr Kizza Besigye, termed Tetubonga Nawe a “good song,” but Mutibwa distanced himself from the praise.
“I am the voice for the voiceless,” Mutibwa said in an interview on social media platform Facebook.
“People have received it even better than I had imagined; this is not the first time I have made revolutionary music. Whenever you make music that connects with the people, that is what happens,” he added.
According to Nanna Schneidermann, a Danish academic who researches Uganda’s contemporary music industry, the real problem with Tubonge Nawe is that it links the musicians to the ruling NRM party.
“In the 2011 elections, many of the same artists performed at President Museveni’s rallies and greeted him — but they were singing their own songs. This ‘support’ could be interpreted in many ways by the audience,” she said.
Tubonga Nawe, however, leaves no room for interpretation, Ms Schneidermann said.
“With our new generation of stars, we love them because they are famous for and by themselves, because they are not under somebody. They have been part of creating their own industry. They are self-made, as Chameleone would say,” said Ms Schneidermann.