In the thick of Uganda's current political tensions, artists from across Africa and the diaspora have come to Kampala for a "Your Music Your Voice" 2017 event to collaborate and discuss their common goal of advocating for social justice in their respective countries.
On Tuesday October 3, the visiting artists - along with journalists and other creatives who use their platforms to carry messages of positive social change - engaged in panel discussions at the "Arts and Activism" symposium which was hosted at Uganda Museum by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Uganda and Goethe-Zentrum Kampala.
Uganda's Robert Kyagulanyi aka Ghetto President Bobi Wine arrived to participate in the panel despite having explosive devices thrown at his home that morning, that Police is investigating. Bobi Wine is one of the MPs opposed to efforts to change the Uganda constitution.
"The majority population is youth but ministers are over 60 years of age. Leadership has a disconect with the youth majority. That is a gap we need to bridge," Bobi Wine said at the discussion.
"We are more powerful than we've been made to believe. People power is stronger than people in power."
The morning panel at the "Your Music Your Voice" moderated by David Tumusiime included artists from several African countries who discussed their approach to advocacy through music, and how they face challenges such as censorship, intimidation and arrests, working with NGOs/funders and engaging the youth in productive activism.
"My body is a piece of art on its own. Its about telling stories. I cant inspire freedom, if I am not free myself," said Eric Ngangare aka Eric Onekey from Rwanda.
We're facing problems The West created: borders, wealth taken, education system. Our partnership isn't equal.- @OutspokenZW #ArtsnActivismUG pic.twitter.com/KXmcjmO6X4
-- Goethe Zentrum Kla (@GZ_Kampala) October 3, 2017
@HEBobiwine on how to keep good people from becoming bad leaders once they attain power. #ArtsnActivismUg pic.twitter.com/Dha5Aso81i
-- KimERA (@UgRwah) October 3, 2017
The "Arts and Activism in Uganda" panel focused on Ugandan advocates for positive social change through various media - a Parliament Watch Uganda blogger, a cartoonist, photographer, rapper, poet - who shared their views on what it means to be civically engaged in Uganda.
"The burden of proof falls on you to prove that my cartoons are about you," said satire cartoonist Jimmy Spire Ssentongo when asked how he "gets away with it".
"I receive more warnings from family than I do from the government. Actually I have never been warned by government," Spire said.
Dr Jimmy Ssentongo (🎤) , the man behind Spire cartoons #ArtsnActivismUg #YourMusicYourVoice pic.twitter.com/rhY7OAPNIG
-- 🤙Derek (@kabderrick) October 3, 2017
The visiting artists will join local positive change makers to put up a concert at the Design Hub (5th Street beside Bata) late on October 4th 2017.
"Your Music Your Voice" is organized by Goethe-Zentrum Kampala in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and supported by Goethe-Institute, Arterial Network and the online platform Music in Africa.
The artists participating are Bobi Wine (Uganda), Tongai Makawa aka Outspoken (Zimbabwe), Jason Mushumbusi Mutalemwa aka Nash MC (Tanzania), Eric Onekey (Rwanda), Monza (Mauretanien), Xuman (Senegal).
Others are Spire (satire cartoonist), Peter Kagayi (poet), Lloyd Lutara (screen writer), Muyingo Siraj (photojournalist), Lady Slyke (Hiphop news writer), Jackie Kemigisha (blogger)