Music, Dance, and Drama have since time immemorial brushed shoulders with the politics of Uganda’s statehouse, with artistes deciding their share of the national cake lyrically.
While some use their talent to sing praise of the sitting government, others start composing lyrics preparing for a president they hope will be taking over- in the opposition.
One thing that remains constant is that for all, there are consequences. Do different target candidates sail on these songs towards State House?
Undeniably though, whoever comes to power has a huge amount of songs created for them, from the school going children, to the senior citizens. It is always what it is; associate with those in power and wait to sing songs of praise for those coming after them.
Even at the height of Idi Amin’s brutality, he was the man on the tongues of very many talented musicians, there is a song that goes like: “Idi Amin, most amazing man that has ever been, the king of the sea.”
And have you listened to those of Uganda Peoples Congress? The songs of UPC rocked this nation from every corner.
“Oh Oh UPC, the congress of the people,” UPC stalwarts would swing to the song, ululating and cheering on, it was just a good feeling for them to be the biggest party ever.
Their songs however started fading out with the rise of the Democratic Party in 1980, and the song “egumire egumire DP” was birthed.
Interestingly, the clash between UPC and DP in the 1980 elections produced something else that would become a problem for both parties- Yoweri Museveni.
He was not the first, nor the second, in fact, he performed abysmally, nonetheless, he was the most angered by the outcome of the elections. Together with some of his colleagues, Yoweri Museveni dashed to the bush, where he would create an entirely new musical and political atmosphere until 1986.
The NRA rebels and Museveni himself concede that much of their struggle did not have any other form of entertainment, but music.
“Music kept us going, it was our only form of morale, whenever things were not going well, someone broke the silence with a song,” Gen Elly Tumwine, who is also a self-proclaimed artiste said at one time.
The late Sergeant Steven Kifulugunyu, an NRA fighter, and artiste said music played a motivational role to the freedom fighters to the extent that Museveni asked him to primarily concentrate on composing songs to motivate his bush war comrades rather than engage in active combat.
Oh Motto wawaka, Kombowa Uganda, Siasa Nzuri, and Museveni’s all-time favorite Kino Kyekisera, are songs that Kifulugunyu used to motivate his colleagues to fight for power.
Songs galvanized the spirit of the fighters, songs gave them a tempo to march on, songs gave them solace, away from memories of losses and injuries.
No wonder when in power, the NRA continued to flourish in songs, making it an integral part of the army and the police.
Museveni’s and NRA songs became the hits going forward, praising combatants for bringing peace among others.
It was not until the early 2000s that songs started getting another direction, other opposition artistes turned up, Ronald Mayinja for instance has a tune dubbed Tuli kubunkenke and another Africa tewali ayamba.
At about the same time, with the rise of opposition Forum for Democratic Change, came Adam Mulwana with the famous Toka Kwa Barabara tune that has been the major highlight of opposition campaigns for over 10 years.
Museveni himself took a shot at music, releasing three songs including “another rap’. The specific song soared him to victory in 2011.