6 February 2018

Uganda: Accept Mowzey As He Was, This Land Made Him So

Photo: Michael Kakumirizi/Daily Monitor
Staff of Kampala Funeral Directors carry the casket containing the body of singer Mowzey Radio.

"When the madness of an entire nation disturbs a solitary mind, it is not enough to say the man is mad," cautioned Prof Francis Davis Imbuga in his Betrayal In The City. These eternally wise words of the late Kenyan playwright and literature scholar came to my mind when the late Moses Nakintije Ssekibogo, also known as Mowzey Radio, of the Goodlyfe Crew, passed on last week. The crew was completed by Douglas Mayanja, a.k.a Weasel.

I wasn't a fan but got to listen to some of his music on the car stereo (Nakudatta, Zuena, Bread and Butter, Amasso, Obudde, Bwondekawo, Potential, Nyambura) and read about him in the papers. He sang songs that were relevant to the current generation and their situation from love, jealousy, struggle, poverty, conquest, and injustice. Goodlyfe had it all.

Elsewhere he was depicted as an extrovert, who dressed colourfully as he precariously lived in the fast lane. He loved the bottle and smoked heavily. He flexed his muscles to settle arguments, wide eyed the ladies, splashed around money and jumped from one controversy to another like a possessed man.

Mowzey Radio made great staple for the tabloids and the gossip pages. His efforts earned himself a seat on the high table of what in Uganda are known as celebrities or 'celebs.' As expected, the outpouring of grief almost matched the posthumous harsh judgement that was directed towards him.

It is this harsh judgement that took me back to Francis Imbuga's madness of an entire nation disturbing a solitary mind.

Uganda has been through a lot in the last 55 years that has left many on the verge of madness. The State inspired violence, wars, wanton killings and lawlessness that have dominated the post-independence era left a dysfunctional State and society. It has done great damage and left a very great scar on the conscience of this nation with far reaching consequences.

I remember from the time of Idi Amin, (1971-1979) many parents, especially fathers, who traditionally are the symbol of strength in our setting, found themselves terribly humiliated and constantly lived in fear. A soldier could beat you or rob you of your property, in front of your children and you could do nothing. In the time of scarcity, many were demeaned when they could not fend for their wives and children and had to moonlight as taxi drivers using the family car or sell smuggled beer or sugar in the family garage.

Many decided to lie low or found refuge in alcohol. The traditional setting of the family suffered immensely as some men, overwhelmed by their being inept, either resorted to violence or abandoned their homes completely. Many women, who had gone into marriages as stay home mums, then found that they had to work and take up the role of family heads as well as to take care of their children. Many ended up dating married men for financial and emotional support. This popularised the era of single mums or mums with multiple partners. Sometimes each child had their own father and people would derogatorily dismiss such offspring as the 'children of prostitutes.' Many men on the other hand would simply bear children and move on. The women would also seek solace elsewhere. That is how a person dies and is 'claimed' by more than one 'father.'

With the advent of HIV/Aids in the 1980s and beyond, many parents died and left orphans, who either roamed the streets where they were abused and exploited or were taken in by relatives. Some of these relatives treated them like third class slaves.

Some were beaten, denied an education, ate leftovers, slaved away with house work and put on the hand-me-down clothes of their cousins or became roadside sellers of fruits and vegetables. Some people didn't pay them for which they were beaten for 'stealing,' others groped them etc.

They grew up with bitterness but this gave many the hunger to succeed in life, as adversity does to many people. Many people have this background, which stems from different reasons, which are alive up to today.

For some, the family property was taken by relatives when the parents died in the wars or from diseases. Others were left orphaned and helpless because land grabbers of the modern era chased their parents off their ancestral lands etc.

Some people, who climb out of these circumstances and become anything in life come to the party as troubled souls with bitterness, insecurity and a series of voids that require them to be excessive as they seek to fill them.

Psychologists tell us that a girl who did not enjoy fatherly love may end up embracing the sugar daddy concept to compensate for what she missed. A boy who was beaten all his life but later becomes a 'celeb' might find himself fighting all the time as a way of beating the society that beat him all his life.

He might have to throw money at people, pour expensive alcohol on the ground, change cars like underwear and sleep with as many women as possible just to show the doubters and those, who saw him struggling (and in his mind despised him because of his obscure past) that he has arrived and is not a failure.

Before you judge Mowzey Radio, think about what the history of this country has done to the minds of the children of this land. May Mowzey's soul rest in eternal peace.

Mr Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues. nicholassengoba@yahoo.com

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