By Steven Odeke
Alot of water has flowed under our musical bridge. And while we are at it, we have lost some artistes over time under that Ugandan music bridge.
We have also seen talented musicians sprout from all corners. But what is it that they sing about? In a country like Uganda grappling with social issues such as high unemployment rate, poor service delivery, corruption, HIV/AIDS and human rights abuses, what most folks would need is hope. A hopeful message they will dance to and remain strong.
And since not all have that voice to speak about, what pains us or on behalf of those pained, musicians should be doing that for masses anywhere.
They have that loud voice many can listen to. Do we have any musician in Uganda with powerful messages? We definitely do.
We have had many musicians such as Philly Bongoley Lutaaya, Elly Wamala, Paul Kafeero, George William Kakoma and other lesserknown ones like Teso renowned artiste Samuel Ojebe, who passed on, but left a legacy on masses they endeared to with their inspiring lyrics.
In a bid to promote music for development, Vision Group, in partnership with Twaweza Initiative and Buzz Events, is to recognise local artistes who have not only entertained, but also used their music to inspire the masses to demand accountability and improved social services, social change or to highlight certain societal ills.
Twaweza programme officer Deus Mukalazi says one of the objectives of this project will be to inspire other artistes to use their platforms to promote dialogue for social change. “We want musicians to use their music to speak for others,” Mukalazi says.
“While we will be recognising those that have entertained masses with good messages in their songs, we think other musicians will start getting interested in current issues and start singing about them.
“We are going to recognise artistes whose songs have touched people who have lost hope and resigned to listening to music. We have talented musicians, who already have songs that have conveyed the message home. They have also stimulated people to think or act to change the communities in which they live in and also challenge authority to demand social change for the betterment of the communities. If they get nominated, they will be recognised,” adds Mukalazi.
New Vision Features Editor John Eremu says the campaign is part of Vision Group’s Ugandans Making a Difference project and is in line with the company’s vision of advancing society.
“Music has, since the medieval times, been used to convey messages and information that have transformed communities or whole societies,” he says.
“Locally, we have had musicians like Philly Lutaaya, whose number – Alone and Frightened – was instrumental in breaking the HIV/ AIDS stigma. But Uganda has many other talented artistes whose talents when harnessed can go a long way in causing positive change in the communities. This award aims to recognise those already engaged in music for development, but also to inspire other musicians to come on board,” adds Eremu.