7 February 2018

Uganda: Mowzey Radio's Death Should Be a Wakeup Call

Photo: The Observer
Mowzey Radio
opinion

Years ago, I used to be involved in the entertainment industry. First, as a writer with an interest in the industry, and later as a consultant.

So, I used to go to places and events musicians go to, especially at night. One day, a lady accidentally spilled the drink of a musician I was sharing a table with. She apologized profusely and everything was okay with the musician until the lady called the waiter to replace the spilled drink.

The musician went into rage calling the lady names. In the musician's view, the lady had undermined him as someone who couldn't buy himself a second drink after one he was drinking had been spilled. Never mind that the musician was drinking on my tab. I was mesmerized by the musician's behaviour. I thought the lady was courteous.

As the world mourns Mowzey (I am not sure that is how he spelt his stage name) Radio who passed away on February 1 after a brawl in a bar, the music industry must find a way to ensure that this doesn't happen again. In under three years, AK-47, a very promising singer, was killed under unclear but similar circumstances like Radio's.

Of course, most musicians grow up in ghettos and to them fighting is the norm. Most of them are also always under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and the illiterate groupies that are always in their company seeking attention and few leftovers.

They also become celebrities almost out of the blue. Obviously, they never learn to manage their new-found status. So, they think their popularity is everything. They think everything should stop when they enter a bar or their word should be as obeyed as that of a ruthless dictator. So, it is easy for them to fight for anything.

Yet the people they hire as their managers are no better. They are usually more of hangers-on than people with any experience to manage somebody who has suddenly found fame and fortune.

Some managers are illiterate. Yet the managers should have a way to counsel and advise their clients. I know how hard it is to manage a talented person who might be uneducated and with a lot of money. However, I believe professional talent managers could somewhat help.

Talking of professionalism, most bouncers have no real training apart from lifting weights in cheap gyms that are reeking of gin and unprocessed drugs. Once a chap who knows nothing has a protruding chest that hardly fits in an XXXL tee-shirt and huge biceps, he becomes a bouncer. No training at all to handle drunken customers. To them, it is all brawn. No brains at all.

There are actually two types of people I avoid to argue with; the hungry askaris and policemen that are all over the entrances of buildings, and bouncers. They don't reason.

They don't have the capacity to do that. I have seen bouncers in high-end nightclubs slapping dozing patrons. Patrons they have been busy selling alcohol to. And when the socialites and pseudo tycoons who throw around money arrive, bouncers forget their work.

So, as we spoke about Radio with a friend on WhatsApp, he said it is high time bouncers formed a serious professional association, which bar owners can approach when they need to recruit.

Only members that belong to such an association should then be hired after they have undergone serious training in handling customers. They need psychological training as well. Bouncers should too undergo regular checks to ensure that they aren't doing drugs or working while drunk. The breweries can fund such training.

Of course these bouncers would be expensive but with them, bars will manage to handle their customers better. This doesn't mean it will eliminate all deaths in bars, but at least a lot of them, and injuries, will be avoided. Radio's death should be a wakeup call for the industry.

The writer is a media consultant and businessman.

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