29 March 2019

Uganda: Minister Nakiwala Invites Fresh Kid for Counselling

Photo: FreshKid/Facebook
Rapper Fresh Kid, real name Patrick Ssenyonjo in a video.

Kampala — The State minister for Youth and Children Affairs, Ms Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, has extended an olive branch to seven-year-old rapper Patrick Ssenyonjo, also known by his stage name Fresh Kid, to meet her for counselling.

Ssenyonjo has rocked the music industry with great performances whenever called on to entertain revellers, but the minister says it is a breach of the Children Act and other regulations.

In an interview with Daily Monitor Thursday, Ms Nakiwala, who has come under criticism especially on social media platforms, said she was not against the boy and his talent but wants him not to be used to break the law.

"The law does not allow such a child to work or be employed for money because he cannot operate a bank account and cannot have a Tax Identification Number to pay taxes. So, until the law is amended, my hands are tied and I can only partner to counsel him and make sure he is in school," Ms Nakiwala said.

Asked whether she has met with Fresh Kid and his managers, the minister said: "Not yet, but I am going to meet them and they are free to come. There is an arrangement and that meeting will be about counselling the boy."

Since Tuesday, social media platforms have been awash with Ugandans asking the minister to "leave Fresh Kid" to showcase his talent.

But the minister said she will only let the boy continue performing after his managers and the family convince her with a work plan that indicates the time he spends in school, sleep and attends to music because at seven years, the child does not have consent.

Examination

Ms Nakiwala says the government will have to examine Fresh Kid to find out whether he has not been subjected to drugs or whether his brain growth is not being affected by the stress of preparing for music shows.

"We have to examine the boy to see if he is ready to do such a business because such people may be under the influence of drugs which is dangerous. So that boy at that age cannot be able to tell what is right or wrong," she added.

This reporter by press time had not yet established contact with the managers or the family of Fresh Kid to comment on the ban the government has slapped on his musical performances.

But his manager, Mr Francis Kamoga, has been quoted by BBC saying the boy does not work for money and has continued to go to school.

Fresh Kid's music came to the attention of the minister on Tuesday this week through her interface with people who expressed concern about the message in his songs.

What the law says

At the age of seven, a child like Fresh Kid can only be counselled when caught in wrong because the law only provides for those aged 12 and above to be taken to a remand home if found in conflict with the law.

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