By Bebe Cool
Probably, rightly so.
There has always been dissenting and different voices. But the end idea has always been the same. To earn from our talent. Execution is what has been wrong.
More than 15 years ago, the NRM (National Resistance Movement) embarked on the idea of streamlining the Uganda arts industry, which definitely includes music, the sector where I largely fall.
Then, (15 or so years ago) meetings happened.This was especially through Gen. Salim Saleh, a respectable gentleman who has always loved music and arts generally.
There are a catalogue of photos of different artists meeting Gen. Saleh. These photos have been splashed all over media over time.
Along the way, few channels like UPRS, NCF, UNCC etc were formed. All these aimed at bringing artists together for their common good. Like already said, to rightfully earn from their talent/compositions.
However, most pop (popular) artists did not fully embrace these organizations.
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And sadly because of this, the people who ran some of these associations took advantage and ripped us the musicians. Musicians and artists in Uganda have always largely earned through stage appearances/performances.
Other channels through which artists are supposed to earn- which are actually bigger than stage performances- were abandoned. Artists definitely lost.
Thankfully, artists have lately realized the need to have one voice to push for their rights and what belongs to them. One voice is always louder than individuals.
The recently formed Uganda National Musicians Federation (UNMF) is a bridge that intends to bring together all artists for one common good; rightful pay. If you realize, most of the people/musicians in the federation are the pop stars who had initially not shown any effort towards unification. They were the missing link.
This federation intends to bring together all artists across Uganda to fight for their rights. To fight for what belongs to them.
The federation works for all us. Artists.
The federation will enable musicians make money from their works even without stepping on stage. In already organized music industries, artists earn less from stage appearances, and more from loyalties, the internet, fair sharing of CRBT, private copy levy etc.
The federation brings on board more 8 channels to earn from, rather than stage.
This is our intention as the new federation. And like we have always stated, we are just the interim.
The politics (Government vs opposition)
When musicians and artists unite like we have done under the UNMF, opposition sees this as a disadvantage. It must be remembered that probably the biggest opposition figure is a musician. This (UNMF), sadly, he thinks works against him. The federation works for all, including that chap.
To work towards streamlining the music sector must include change in policy. Policy is only aided or done by government.
In one way or another, musicians must engage with government.
Unfortunately, the leader of opposition (Bobi Wine) sees this as a disadvantage to him.
Musicians are engaging government to earn what rightly belongs to them.
This is our objective and no one will divert us from that.
All federations work with government. FUFA, Medics, farmers etc. Even opposition (NUP) itself is part of the structures of the government of the NRM. This is law.
NUP receives a substantial amount of money from government. Why hasn’t that money been rejected at any single moment?
Then let’s give an example of FUFA, football’s governing body. FUFA like other sports federations get a substantial amount of funding from government annually. It’s evident sports and entertainment directly or indirectly employ or influence 90% of the youths in Uganda today.Therefore if sports is funded and no one questions,why should you question any government funding towards the musicians federation?
In this case I would have thought the question to be how the funds would be distributed,how government would guide/sensitize the artists to grow the sector.
Nigeria government directly financially invests in their music industry and no doubt it must be one of their biggest exports right now.
So what the hell? Therefore Bobi Wine must drop the individualism.
Surely the Ugandan National Musicians Federation (UNMF) is not fighting him but rather fighting for him as an artist.
Bobi Wine knows that if us musicians are better financially, he loses clout. He embarks on uninformed talks to intimidate his fellow artists to fall under his trap.He has always wanted to portray himself as an endorser or godfather of concerts,with a false belief that If he doesn’t endorse a music concert, it flops. That’s what he wrongly thinks. He presumes everyone should believe in what he believes in. Naaaah. We just want better laws for all us.
It was actually very insulting and total disrespect for Bobi Wine to lash out at musicians like he did at late Kato Lubwama’s burial. As musicians, we don’t take his foolish rant lightly.
He wants to be seen as our saviour. This is not how things work.
We need better policies that will streamline and focus our industry from us to earn what’s rightfully ours.
And it’s not just about the federation by the way.
Many stakeholders have been pushing for an amendment of a better copyright law.
Consultations were made,fully funded and mornitored by government.
By the way, Bobi was in Parliament and did nothing for arts sector.
We must all work together now and this is where i call upon all stake holders in the arts sector to join the voice.
As Bebe cool,i advise all artists to confidently stand thier ground and join the one voice.