By Mike Ssegawa
The All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) will take place in Ghana between 22-24 November, 2018. The biggest awards ceremony on the continent today, have a category where eight artistes are nominated in the Best East Africa Male Artiste category. Among the eight is Bebe Cool, a top Ugandan music performer who has been at his best for almost two decades.
One would imagine Ugandans who are into art and entertainment, could support their own since the awards only need voting. This week however, a campaign has been going on calling for a boycott on Bebe Cool’s nomination, and soliciting support for Tanzanian, Diamond Platnumz. Without going into the merits and demerits of the two candidates, the reason forwarded for rejecting Bebe Cool is that he endorsed the controversial social media tax.
Bebe Cool has always taken unpopular political stands. But that is as a person. Needless to say Bebe Cool’s opinion on what becomes law or tax is not important as he has no powers to do so.
However, this son of Uganda has been a committed artiste, who does music for art’s sake. And music lovers would agree.
The problem with some Ugandans especially the lot on social media, is their failure to separate issues. We might agree or disagree politically, but that doesn’t take away one’s credentials. A doctor will continue treating patients, an engineer or lawyer or accountant or taxi driver etc will go about their beats. Just as musicians.
Bebe Cool is a great artiste. Fact. That is why he is actually nominated for awards such as AFRIMA. Uganda should be proud of him.
Our country runs a risk of producing mediocre people since we don’t really celebrate success as we should. We are okay as average people, and of course no one minds an average Joe. But we celebrate foreign people and things – which we adore like gods…everyone was falling over Kanye West on his recent trip to Uganda. His wife Kim Kardashian was posing with President Museveni, et al. No one reminded her of nude images she is famous for! But when poor Zari Hassan came to talk about Ugandan tourism, you would not believe the hate that came through on social media!!!
The other day, Eddy Kenzo was on NTV/Spark TV. He spoke about how he feels less appreciated at home. Kenzo would say, he performs for full stadia out of Uganda, however, he fears to call a concert here at less than 20,000 capacity Kyadondo rugby grounds. Why? He would be fought, frustrated and humiliated to make him feel small.
I am sure comedian Ann Kansiime would say the same thing. Kansiime gathers fans in grand halls out of Uganda, but in Kampala where she performs in a comedy outfit, Fun Factory every Thursday at National Theatre, she rarely gets the honors she deserves at a theatre of less than 500 sitting capacity.
I can go on and on, about great Ugandans who are never recognized at home. And many who are actually failed for one reason or the other. This Ugandan character actually goes to our people even in diaspora. Unlike Nigerians, Somalis or Ethiopians who win or lose as a community, we are fond of pulling each other down.
If we actually to pass little tests such as supporting Bebe Cool for Afrima or Kenzo for BET awards, what can we do?
If we want to graduate from a country of kadogos, we must start doing things that make us great, despite internal disagreements.
It is okay to disagree with Bebe Cool’s political views. It is also okay for his art not being able to measure up when put to the regional or continental test, BUT, carrying political disagreements to things that lift up Uganda as a country, is not only childish, but also proves that we have a long way to go as a country. For the mindset of a people is very important in their success story. For a culture of a people is fundamental for the eventual development of a community or society.
The words and actions used to destroy achievers such as Bebe Cool, Eddy Kenzo or Ann Kansiime, could as well be used to inspire hundreds of other kids who want to shine like them. In Uganda, successful people are loathed. One wonders why people never fail to find an excuse to fail someone who is about to break through.
This is not to say, this is a blanket condemnation of our society and all its people. No. There are millions of Ugandans who mean well, and wish themselves and others prosperity. We should tap into this positive energy and carry each other on our shoulders if we have to.
Bebe Cool therefore deserves our support as a Ugandan and a well deserving artiste.
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