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It’s a shame UMA has been reduced to a beggars association – Bobi Wine

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National Unity Platform president Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine says that it is a shame that the Uganda Musicians Association which was started to fight for the arts industry has been reduced to a beggars association.

The former Kyadondo East MP gave his opinion about the current state of the Ugandan music industry after several artistes were seen having a meet with President Museveni’s brother Gen. Salim Saleh begging for handouts.

According to Bobi Wine, the artistes act of pleading for handouts from Gen. Saleh was an act of letting the Ugandan arts industry collapse since artists have failed to stand in solidarity to defend their industry.

He also reminded fellow artists of how the same person Gen. Salim Saleh came up with oppressive rules that were meant to be imposed on artists to always submit their lyrics to the Minister of Gender for approval before producing the artistic work.

Below is Bobi Wine’s post in full. check it out.

Watching my fellow artistes line up themselves before #DictatorMuseveni‘s brother General Salim Saleh to beg for handouts, my mind was taken back to the story of Joseph Stalin, the Soviet dictator of the 19th century.

“Stalin once plucked off all the feathers from a live chicken as a lesson to his followers. He then set the chicken on the floor a short distance away. The chicken was blooded and suffering from great pain, yet, when Stalin began to throw some bits of wheat to the chicken it followed him around. He then said to his followers, “This is how easy it is to govern stupid people. They will follow you no matter how much pain you cause them, as long as you throw a few worthless crumbs to them every once in a while.”

This story has come to life very many times in Uganda. Museveni, like all brutal dictators appeals to two human weaknesses- greed and fear.

Those who resist greed are intimidated into submission, after which he returns and gives them a few crumbs from his loot. I am sure every artiste fully understands this, because artistes are expected to understand the things around them, even above the average citizen.

Artistes are aware that about two years ago, the regime brought very oppressive laws targeting the industry. Among the laws proposed was a requirement that an artiste must submit his or her lyrics to the minister of Gender for approval before producing any artistic work. Another ridiculous one was a requirement for artistes to get permission from the government before they are allowed to perform abroad.

These regulations were never shelved. They were only put on a halt when the regime got the excuse of COVID19 to implement the control which they had hoped to achieve through the regulations.Artistes are aware that before shows were banned on account of COVID19, I and Nubian Li were not allowed perform anywhere in Uganda. The regime made it clear that any artiste who dares to criticise its corruption and injustice was not going to be allowed to perform in this country. Several artistes including Nubian Li, Dan Magic and the Mighty family comedians just returned from Kitalya after seven months for simply associating with me and for speaking the truth. The attack on the arts has been clear for all to see.

In all this, we have seen very few artistes bold enough to stand in solidarity with fellow artistes and with the Music and creative industry. Uganda Musician’s Association (UMA), an association which we started to fight for the industry has been loudly silent about all this injustice. It was reduced to a beggars’ association.It is very sad to see that the very person who destroyed the music industry has finally been able to make artistes bow down in humiliation to worship him. Oh what a shame!

This generation of artistes needs to remember that we have been here before. In the 1970s artistes and writers such as Robert Serumaga, John Ruganda and Okot p’Bitek fled to exile in neighboring Kenya. Byron Kawadwa, a playwright and artistic director of the Uganda National Theatre, paid the ultimate price of death in 1977 following his critical play ‘Oluyimba lwa Wankoko’. They refused to sell their souls to dictator Idi Amin. Yet, today we celebrate them.

Bobi Wine

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