If Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine can be used as a yardstick in measuring courage and ambition among artists as champions of political change, many would give him a distinction.
With Kyagulanyi now out of Parliament, his record is likely to be critically analyzed by all those that have used their star power to climb the high ladder of political representation.
In just three years in Parliament, Kyagulanyi declared his intensions to challenge incumbent Yoweri Museveni’s stronghold onto power. Not only did he start an indomitable People Power wave that garnered the biggest number of Opposition MPs, (60) compared to FDCs…..
Notable among the new celebrity politicians is Innocent Hillary Kiyaga alias Dr. Hilderman, who was elected to represent the people of Mawokota North. The New Eagles’ co-founder Geoffrey Lutaaya, also swept his way to Parliament from Kakuuto County, while Rachael Magoola, famed for her Obangaina hit, won the Woman MP seat for Bugweri District. Music Promoter Geoffrey Kayemba Solomon aka Kayemba Solo, came in as MP elect Bukomansimbi South.
Although the primary responsibility of an MP is to make laws and perform oversight duties across all government programmes, there is a new sense of hope among artists that this time, the new entrants, coupled with their past record as people who are passionate about the industry, is a great opportunity to champion the cause of artists.
Veteran artist Aloysius Matovu Joy, shares the view that as stakeholders, they have a lot of hope in the new crop of artists in Parliament, because they have been passionate about the sector.
“We’re indeed very optimistic that the new team will champion the cause of art. I am cognizant of the fact that many didn’t cite the need to promote the welfare of artists while they were campaigning, but I know that they will not want to forget the industry that gave them the popularity, upon which they have been riding to rise to where they have reached.”
He cites the government’s failure to strictly enforce the copyright law, as a deliberate gap that is keeping many creators of entertainment content poor and destitute.
Matovu Joy does not mince his words when he says that previous former artists like Kato Lubwama – (Lubaga South), Sulaiman Madaada (Bbaale county Kayunga) and Judith Babirye, were a huge let-down for the industry as they were so keen on self-enrichment instead of looking out for the plight of their origins.
“When you analyze the current crop, you get the feeling that this time; we have the right set of people who will push the agenda of art beyond where it has been.
“The sense of hope also arises from the exceptionally good performance of Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine on the presidential ticket, where he scored over 35% of the total votes cast, the biggest ever showing by a first time presidential contender.
With this sharp rise in the Numbers of artists vying for political Offices, arguments from sections of the public have attributed it to the vice and characters of Politicians who have used through campaigns and dumped them in the past elections, the new political wave as well as the need by artists to develop the Art and Entertainment Industry which has been left behind by government.
Meanwhile, experts within the Art Industry have thrown in their expertise views as well as giving advice to artists in politics and those intending to join as time goes by.
Celebrated visual artist and painter Nuwa Wamala Nnyanzi also argues that the successful artists should never under-estimate the role that art played in their rise to Parliament.
“For a very long time, artists have been undervalued, under-represented and under-estimated and that’s the exact reason they came in,” he said.
Nyanzi illustrates the impact of act in the rise of many artists, buy saying that Bush war politicians had long considered artists as accessories to get votes by being used entertain crowds at political rallies. But with the success of Kyagulanyi and many others, politicians are waking up to the apparent power of artists hitherto, less appreciated.
Robert Musitwa, the spokesperson of the Uganda National Cultural Centre (UNCC) also argues that although they may belong to different political parties, they have a much bigger set of interests surrounding the promotion of art industry to benefit them and other Ugandans.
“In our capacity as UNCC, we wish to congratulate them upon their victory. I however, would appeal to artists that have been blessed with political offices to avoid politics based on political parties but instead work in conjunction with colleagues from other parties as it is the best way they can effectively lobby for the industry and their electorates in general,” said Musitwa.
Need for orientation
Being new to politics, many artists appreciate that in order to maximize the presence of their colleagues in Parliament, the new artists need to undergo some orientation.
On his part, Matovu says he is ready to mobilize different participants in the industry to package the concerns of the artists, so that they can clearly view and appreciate their challenge ahead of them.
As a member of the National Unity Platform, a party that boasts the majority of artists in Parliament, Matovu says he will strive to ensure that orientation training and round-table discussions focusing on clarifying of the agenda of artists is concerned.
Hillary Innocent Kiyaga alias Dr. Hilderman, has expressed readiness to strive for the industry, although he decries disunity which he says will undermine any efforts aimed at addressing the challenges faced by the industry.
“Besides differences based on political ideologies, there is a lot of disunity among artists arising from a number of grievances. But in cooperation with artists leaderships and a number of stakeholders, I intend to reorganize the arts industry,” he said.
Hilderman said that it’s only through unity and harmony among the Art industry that they (Art politicians) shall effectively serve and lob for the art Industry.
“We have to effectively organize the entire leadership within the Arts Industry because without stakeholders having one common voice, of course it becomes hard to lobby something,” he said.
Hilderman also cited the government’s failure to implement the copyright law, as a disservice to artists.
“I intend to engage fellow representatives so that we join hands in pressurizing implementation bodies to have the Copyright law implemented,” added Kiyaga.
Meanwhile, other artists who managed to get elected to local government positions, such as Mathias Walukagga and Lydia Nakitto Alias Mama Sam, have promised to complement the efforts of their senior colleagues in Parliament to sensitize the masses about the need for laws that favour the arts industry noting that its untapped potential in employment creation, is huge and can only grow with better laws.
“I personally pledge to reach out to my senior politicians like honorable Members of Parliament to see how we can come up with bills in favour and promotion of the Arts industry since it’s within my capacity as a local council leader,” said Maama Sam.
Mathias Mulumba Walukagga, the newly-elected Kyengera Town council Mayor, says his priority will be to focus on service delivery for his people in the town council.
By so doing, Walukagga, argues, he will demystify people’s perceptions that artists are unserious and not worthy being considered for bigger positions of responsibility.