Eddy Kenzo juggles the power of mimetic desire

Artiste Edrissa Musuuza, alias Eddy Kenzo. Whereas his two initial songs did not pick any steam, Sitya Loss didn’t come up against only local artistes. PHOTO/FILE/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • While mimetic desire can provide motivation and inspiration, it can also lead to imitation and replication without any real innovation or creativity.

One of Uganda’s most popular musicians, Eddy Kenzo rose to fame in 2014 with his hit song Sitya Loss, which went viral on YouTube and gained millions of views. Since then, he has released multiple successful albums and won several awards and being Uganda’s first Grammy nominee, including a BET Award for Best International Viewers’ choice, Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards, All African Music Awards, and other numerous awards. 

Eddy Kenzo is known for his fusion of Ugandan and African sounds with Western pop and dance music, as well as for his energetic performances and catchy lyrics. He is considered as one of the most successful musicians in Uganda and has helped to popularise Ugandan music on the global stage. Bravo Kenzo!

It is said nobody likes to think of themselves as imitative. We value originality and innovation. We are attracted to renegades. But everybody has hidden models and this time Kenzo has shown us his model; the late legendary and celebristan Philly Bongoley Lutaaya. Isn’t it odd, then, that people generally frown upon imitation? One of our greatest human strengths is seen as a source of embarrassment, a sign of weakness, even something that can get you into trouble. Most artists generally recognise the value of imitating the masters. 

Lutaaya is a celebristan model and because of that is worthy of imitation. People only truly become legends after they retire or die because they enter into a different existential space. Kenzo should never compare himself with celebristan legend Lutaaya because Kenzo is still a freshmanistan occupying the same space with other famous artists. Unlike Philly who is a celebristan, he is a model and free from competitions, distant in time, space or social status.

Kenzo’s decision to mimic legendary and Lutaaya’s song Born in Africa and create a video portrays the power of mimetic desire. Mimetic desire is when human desires are often imitative, and that our wants and needs are shaped by the desires of others around us. In the context of the music industry, this can mean that musicians are influenced by the desires and actions of other artists, and they may seek to replicate their success or emulate their style. 

In the case of Kenzo, it is clear that he was influenced by the success of Lutaaya’s Born in Africa, and that he sought to replicate its popularity by trying to sing it. However, in doing so, he may have missed the important message of the original singer, and instead created a video that perpetuates negative stereotypes of African identity.  Kenzo’s decision to mimic Lutaaya’s song can be seen as a missed opportunity to tap into the transcendental desire that the original song underscored with discernment. 

Lutaaya’s Born in Africa was not just a song, but a powerful expression of human longing for transcendence. It spoke to a deeper yearning for meaning and purpose, and for a connection to something greater than oneself. The song’s message was not just about celebrating African identity, but about tapping into the universal human experience of searching for meaning and fulfilment. 

Transcendental desire is the yearning for something beyond the material and the mundane, a search for something that gives life a deeper meaning and purpose. In the context of music, this desire can manifest as a longing to create something that touches the hearts and souls of people, something that moves them and connects them to a deeper truth. 

Lutaaya tapped into this transcendental desire with discernment. Kenzo, on the other hand, missed this opportunity by concentrating more on the surface-level elements of the song, such as its catchy melody and lyrics. 

Again l would say that Kenzo could have used emotional intelligence when mimicking the song by demonstrating Africa in the digital times. By doing so, he could have brought a new perspective to the song and made it relevant to the current generation. 

While mimetic desire can provide motivation and inspiration, it can also lead to imitation and replication without any real innovation or creativity. As such, it is important for musicians to be aware of the influences that shape their desires and to strive for originality and authenticity in their artistic expression. 

Mimicking a classic song such as Born in Africa is not inherently problematic, but the manner in which it is done matters greatly. 

One of the most misrepresented places on earth is Africa. Even though the continent is home to more than 1 billion people, there is so much misinformation and myths about its people and their ways of life.

These various myths about Africa that people throughout the world believe to be true. The fact is that these misconceptions are embedded due to misinformation, lack of knowledge, and stereotypes. The worst is still perpetuated by some of us.

Musicians should be using their platforms to challenge and break down those stereotypes, promoting positive images of Africa and its people. By doing so, they can play a key role in shaping perceptions. 

Conclusively one would say Kenzo can be considered a “freshmanistan,” artiste while the Lutaaya is a “celebristan” artiste due to his significant contributions to Ugandan music and enduring legacy in the industry. Kenzo has also achieved significant success leveraged by social media. Lutaaya’s legacy as a pioneer and advocate has solidified his status as a celebrated figure in Ugandan music history.

Don Mash, Son of the soil Uganda