ELECTION CAMPAIGNS: A BUMPER HARVEST FOR MUSICIANS IN UGANDA

Published by Patra K on

Election Campaign: A Bumper Harvest for Musicians in Uganda

Photo by Stephen Muneza

Every five years, Uganda holds its general elections. The music industry has perpetually become a lucrative season for musicians to milk political candidates. Candidates have spent millions on contracting talented musicians with big followings to solicit for support and votes for them on their campaign trail as they prepare for the 2021 Elections.

The ruling party, National Resistance Movement (NRM), commenced its campaigns in Northern Uganda in Lango and West Nile Sub region. Fleets of Musicians from the Gagamel crew led by its boss Uganda’s superstar Bebe cool were part of the campaign team pulling the crowds on the streets in major towns of Apac and Nebbi districts.

The NRM has spent heavily on securing this crew as they are seen soliciting for support and votes for the incumbent presidential candidate Museveni. Bebe Cool composed a campaign song titled “Mwongede akalulu” literally meaning “I have added him a vote”
which played during road drives and political rallies.
This song highlights the achievements of the regime over the last 34 years and what the president pledges to do for the next five years. It has definitely popularised the candidature of the incumbent president Museveni. “Mwongede akalulu” has gained
political magnitude just like the previous 2016 NRM Campaign song “tubonga nawe” which steadily gained popularity becoming an anthem on every one’s lips. 

Every artist who featured in the 2016 campaign song was supposedly paid 50 million UGX (13,551$).” Through these songs, candidates have been able to reach out the to the electorates in a
more interesting and captivating way. This is effective for candidates in selling their manifesto and ideas in the wake of COVID 19 and scientific campaigns 

In Uganda’s 21st century politics, musicians have been viewed as political capital in regards to mobilisation and soliciting for support and votes for political candidates. Country wide musicians have been approached by different candidates to reach out to the electorate. It is noted that campaign songs messages have impacted on the voter rationality of various groups such as youth and elderly on the election day. These campaign songs have been continuously played on radios and social media as a kind reminder to the electorate to vote for them.

According to the ACFIM eyewitness on ground, candidates have spent in the ranges of 500,000 UGX (135$) to 1,000,000UGX (270$) to musicians to compose campaign songs ahead of the 2021 polls. Campaign songs have turned out to be an emerging
cost expenditure as a form of popularising candidates to electorates during door to door and road drives in the scientific campaigns.

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