The making of young disillusionment

What you need to know:

  • No man wants to fight against law enforcement and break the rules but if it’s the thing that stands between them and a meal to survive, then sitya danger! 

The rise and rise of disillusionment music in Uganda is fascinating to watch but sad to live though.

I have consistently referred to this music as ‘silly’music because it’s lyrics seek to offer immediate dopamine to a depressed and sad generation. 

This music came into sharp focus this week with the fight between Pallaso and Alien Skin. 

I was introduced to Alien Skin last year at the tipping end of the covid-19 lockdown. He had released a song titled; ‘Tulabise’ which was a rejection of intellectualism and a promotion of mairungi eating.

I must say, honestly, I loved his honesty, his self-confidence despite not sharing his message. 

Alien Skin represents a Uganda that I have consistently insisted needs to be listened to, understood and worked with – rather than dismissed.  

There was a time in Uganda’s economic history where it did look like a fair economic system could be achieved.

A system where the rewards of the economy would go to all hard workers maybe not in equal measure but in equitable measure. 

The turn of the century promised hope – parents shuttled their children to school selling all manner of wealth they had, business men took tremendous risk – distributing bottled beer and soda to areas where the cash economy did not even reach and private enterprise became a genuine path to wealth. 

That period, which we can characterize as Uganda’s golden economic age was the period immediately after privatization in which majority state assets were handed for private enterprise.

It allowed government which was gobbling up all manner of long-term debt grow its tax revenue in leaps and bounds and send it to the most important aspects.

Uganda funneled it’s money into universal education, enhanced salaries for civil servants and building up concrete infrastructure. 

That dividend has paid off – but only for a few. 

Two plausible explanations can be given, the first is that despite sustained economic growth, the population growth too wiped out many of the gains of that trend.

An average Ugandan takes 20 years to be added into the productive part of the economy where they are able to contribute taxes. 

An economy growing averagely at 5% and a population at 3.5% means that the gains of growth are wiped out.

Income per capita would be a good measure for this except in a country like Uganda of extremes in both wealth and income inequality, it’s a false start. 

The disillusionment of many young people is the promise of education to produce jobs, which has not, the promise of jobs was to give economic freedom, which has not either.

This disillusion is a representation of that. It presents itself as anxiety, mental health and finds language in songs which artistes like Alien Skin sing. 

No man seeks to glorify the use of mairungi, but if it’s the one thing that temporarily displaces the reality of a bleak future, then, by all means, tulabise! 

No man wants to fight against law enforcement and break the rules but if it’s the thing that stands between them and a meal to survive, then sitya danger! 

The peak of economic disillusionment of young people has been finding glory and joy in their bleak circumstances – and it’s scary to see.