The ongoing 2021 elections season has witnessed a record turn up of entertainers venture into politics. From comedians to stage performers to musicians, artists are featuring prominently this season quite clearly more than they have ever done.
Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine’s runaway victory in the parliamentary elections for Kyadondo East three years ago and his subsequent meteoric rise in popularity has injected new confidence and self belief among artists that politics is no longer a preserve of any particular group of people.
Buganda region has probably recorded the highest number of entertainers vouching for political power.
The attack might have started with young blood, but has swept veterans off their feet.
Take the position of Kampala Lord Mayor for example. There are more artists vowing to unseat seasoned lawyer and incumbent Erias Lukwago, than people from other disciplines.
Bakayimbira Dramactors founder and renowned play wright Charles James Ssenkubuge is battling singer Joseph Mayanja, and Ragga musician Daniel Kazibwe for the coveted seat.
In Kampala divisional politics, Hajj Ashraf Ssemwogerere, a veteran actor and Managing Director of Pearl Afric Film Industries Ltd is seeking to unproot veteran and long serving FDC vice president Joyce Nabbosa Ssebuggwawo from Lubaga division.
Mosh Ssendi aka Mr. Mosh is in Makindye canvasing for support to become a Lord Councilor.
Comedian and CBS radio presenter Patricko Mujuuka, Zulia Basima alias Nakapanka are both gunning for Nakifuma County Parliamentary seat in Mukono district.
Lydia Nakitto alias Maama Sam who acts in regularly televised short drama skits famed as Taata Sam, has not been left behind. She is vying for Woman Councilor Nansana Division West 2A and B.
At the same time, musician Hilary Innocent Kiyaga alias Dr Hilderman wants to oust Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde in Mawokota North.
Kadongokamu singer Mathias Walukaga has a good chance of succeeding in his quest to take the leadership of Kyengera town council as mayor.
Several others across the country including Kenneth Kimuli of the Pablo fame, Geoffrey Lutaaya, Dennis Katongole aka Omutongole, have returned to their home areas to compete for political power.
But there is some sense of excitement in the industry that perhaps some form of political awakening is afoot.
What has driven so many of our entertainers could be a mixture of personal and altruistic ambitions. This huge appetite for politics has triggered debate among other participants in the arts sector to wonder whether this could turn out to be a good thing.
Robert Musiitwa, the Uganda National Cultural Centre (UNCC) Spokesperson says it’s of great importance to the art industry that their own have risen up to join politics and notes that it will be a boost to the industry.
“Art and culture started right from the 1960’s but on several occasions, actors and comedians have only been used to deliver messages without addressing the industry’s concerns, it may be of importance to the industry that a number of them are joining politics.”
On whether the Art industry will remain relevant after elective politics, Musiitwa said: “The storm shakes whenever it comes, but it’s effects are known after it has passed. It may either worsen or get boasted basing on the interests of the political artists.”
Musiitwa however notes that as UNCC, they are engaging happy to witness the revolution as more actors and comedians get closer to the table where most of the decisions that affect the industry are made.
“We are effectively engaging them to express political interests in regard to the concerns of the arts industry; for example, prior to the victory of Kato Lubwama we invited him to officiate one of our cultural ceremonies, the invite was an intended boast to the industry,” he noted.
Whereas we have seen actors and comedians go in for different political parties and ideologies, Musiitwa urges fans to stick to the oath of supporting actors irrespective of their colours.
“Although actors come with different political ideologies, fans should remain loyal to art as Kyagulanyi sang, ‘obululu tebutwawula, translated as elections should not divide us,” he said.
For Sam Okello, the Chairman Board of Trustees Uganda National Cultural Centre (UNCC), before they became artists, they were human beings and therefore have a right to exercise their innate rights as spelt out in the constitution to participate in the leadership of their country.
“It’s very important that we respect their interests, the only challenge comes when one pushes for something without a development ambition because the public is very intelligent and they always make their own decisions,” he said.