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Just Help Our Musicians To Make Money Instead Of Introducing Draconian Laws

By Abbey Semuwemba
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I hesitate to ridicule laws, especially in a field that isn't my own, but really, this kind of pseudo-legal guff is our modern equivalent to phrenology. It is, I fear, laughably naive. What is the value to society in moderating music in Uganda at the moment?

The proposed laws are flawed at root, because the Museveni govt is attempting to stifle music that is not favourable to them which, by their nature, will corrupt the music industry too. The hope of these pseudo-laws is that they can pick up enough musicians- gulls to fleece, as they are already doing through police clearances to hold shows and stuff. Incidentally, this all has come at a time when Bobi Wine's music is troubling president Museveni, and whatever he is trying to build for himself in Uganda.

Music is a prominent feature of everyday life and nearly everywhere we go. Mr.Museveni should just enjoy his, and leave Ugandans to also enjoy theirs, for now. In the UK here, they had Edward Heath who was, of course, their most musical Prime Minister. He was an organ scholar at Oxford and, apparently, did a lot to boost the music industry in the country.

Profit is the only thing that matters to musicians, and the govt should be helping them to make money out of their music instead of going for the jugular. Taylor Swift is the greatest of all musicians because she sells the most songs. Uganda should be helping in creating a market for our music and musicians, and not suffocate them with laws.

YouTube pays $1 billion in song royalties worldwide each year. The govt should be working with our musicians to make sure they earn something from their music too. YouTube pays an estimated $1 per 1,000 plays on average, while Spotify and Apple music pay a rate closer to $7. YouTube is the site best known for viral videos, and accounts for 25 percent of all music streamed worldwide. A lot of Uganda songs are played on YouTube daily but our musicians get nothing or less from it, because they have got no protection and support from the government. There's no getting around the fact that, even if YouTube doesn’t have licenses, your music will still be available but not monetized at all.

Because of the so many fascist rules that have been introduced in Uganda, people have resorted to finding ways of belittling the office of the presidency, and music is one of them. Bobi Wine often calls himself "Ghetto president", while Besigye calls himself ‘people president’, not because they don’t know the limit of their powers but because they are trying to rob the word-‘president’, of its power to put down. I'm not asking you to agree or disagree with the practice, but don't deny that people are hurting, and everything seems to stem from the presidency. Today its musicians, tomorrow it’s going to be someone else.

Put the shoe on the other foot--would you appreciate anybody blocking you from becoming a president, just because you haven’t dressed properly? Philippines pride themselves in having the best president in their history at the moment, and attend his rallies in big numbers, simply because he swears a lot and sometimes puts on shorts. His style of speech would make anybody lose an election in Uganda, but they are OK with it. I have never met Bobi or any of the Uganda musicians, and I do my best not to form "images" which categorize and delimit entire music industry based on what I see on TV or hear in music. I'm sure Museveni used to see Bobi with funny hair on his head, and think, 'what a muyaye!', but didn’t know that he had his own ambitions and good ideas in his head. I see people judging Besigye’s son in the same way because of his non-Uganda styles.Please, let people be, let Musicians be, as we have got bigger problems as a country to deal with at the moment.

"In tribute to the United Kingdom and the Republic of Uganda, two bastions of strength in a world filled with strife, discrimination and terrorism."

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba writes from The United kingdom