Friday November 3 2017

Using music to inspire social change

Mutibwa (L), who is  based in Sweden,  says he

Mutibwa (L), who is based in Sweden, says he wants to use music to inspire social change as well as to encourage Ugandans to get involved in the make the decisions of thier country. Photos by Edgar R Batte.  

By EDGAR R. BATTE

In well packaged lyrics backed up with hip rhythms, Bana Mutibwa’s music rails off the conventional course, conveying messages of direct inverse to political proposals to the powers that be.
His two songs, Tetubonga Nawe and Tojikwatako Nawe, have been released in politically torrid times.
Tetubonga nawe, loosely translated to ‘we are not with you’, was a response to tubonga nawe (we are with you), a song that rallied support for the re-election of Mr Museveni as President in 2016 after 30 years in power.
Mutibwa expresses resistance in punchy lyrics that detail why he does not support Mr Museveni to continue leading Uganda.
He cites lack of rule of law, unemployment and continued corruption as well as taking a swipe at artistes that featured in the Tubonga Nawe song for “playing cheap” and pushing selfish ends.
In Tojikwatako (donot touch it) he rallies Ugandans to resist the deletion of the 75-year age cap from the Constitution for a prospecting presidential candidates.
“I have been carefully observing the events that have surrounded the Constitution amendment debate recently. From the brawls in Parliament, to the way police has been handling consultation rallies, especially by the Opposition. I thought I needed to pen (sic) my thoughts about Tojikwatako,” he explains.
The song, he says, will serve as a voice for a generation and the voiceless to make Uganda a better country.
“During the last presidential campaigns and the election process, I made a series of YouTube videos called Revolutionary Bars, empowering the young generation to make the right choice. So it is indeed a build up from the music I have been making for a long time,” he says.
The reaction has always been mixed but mostly positive and Mutibwa proudly speaks of how he felt happy when Kizza Besigye shared the Tetubonga Nawe song when he first released it during the 2016 campaigns.
“Many thought I had been paid by the Opposition to make a counter-reply song, which wasn’t true. Nevertheless it went on to become some sort of an anthem among the younger voters - which was my goal. So far the Tojikwatako freestyle has only received positive feedback. Massive sharing on social media and downloads from my music page,” he says.
One fan, Bakers Musoke, left him a comment. “I have used Tetubonga Nawe as my ringtone for the last two years until yesterday (day of release) I woke up to the new tune Tojikwatako and I will use it until the sun shines again in my motherland,” he wrote.
However, he has not yet received feedback from government, whose actions, he says, keep inspiring him to make more “revolutionary songs”.

Creating a fair society
According to Mutibwa, there is need for consciousness to prevail among Ugandans to create a country that works for all.
“In bad times people search for a voice. Ugandans are continuously embracing social music from all kinds of genres. That is why today people relate more to the likes of [Hon] Robert Kyagulanyi because so far he is the only mainstream Ugandan artiste who has pushed this idea of social conscious to the mainstream level. This even scares those in power, because music is a tool that can empower people,” he says.
Born Richard Walakira, Mutibwa, fell in love with the Lugaflow music genre in 2015, inspired by the likes of Bataka Squad and Young Vibes.
The idea behind his revolution music, he says, is to make music that will awaken young Ugandans to demand for involvement and change.
‘Since I was born in 1989, I know no other President apart from [Mr] Museveni. For me this is the first step towards bringing the wider change such as reducing unemployment, corruption and establishing institutions that work for all. Through music, I try to open their eyes to see how this can be achieved,” he says.

Music a change agent
Whereas radio and television stations mostly play music that celebrates love and relationships, socially conscious music has its place on the airwaves.
Its strength can be quantified by the political win it earned artiste Bobi Wine to become MP of Kyadondo East as well as iconic revolutionary singers such slain South African reggae artiste, Lucky Dube.
Songs such as ghetto, Ebibuuzo, Tugambire ku Jeniffer, Bakoowu, everyone is me and Obuyonjo, among others, tackle politics, social injustice, health and sanitation and maternal health.

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