The upsurge of artistes on the political scene as entrants as opposed to entertainers, shocking as it may seem, is not surprising.I get irritated by the so-called political analysts, whose inability to connect dots, leads them into disrespecting these emerging politicians. In their solicited or unsolicited opinions, both in print and on air, they have dismissed these artistes as mere jokers, even when they have won elections with overwhelming majority.
When the British decided to take over Uganda they used chiefs and later on, through those chiefs, they were able to recruit young men whom they deployed to fight during the First and Second World wars.
On return these ex-servicemen, having been exposed to the independent- minded freedom fighters elsewhere, were fired up and started agitating for independence.
Another category of people whom the British had groomed to prepare a workforce to implement their colonial agenda was teachers. No wonder the leadership of independence movements was dominated by ex-servicemen and teachers. That is why teachers dominated even the leadership positions of political parties at independence. Little wonder therefore that the post independence governments used the armed forces to suppress democracy – just like the British had done while dealing with freedom fighters.
Among teachers who ascended to top leadership positions were Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi, Prof Yusuf Kironde Lule, Emilio Mwai Kibaki and others. The armed forces, having realised that the gun was the real power behind the throne, went for the kill and took over power. FM Idi Amin Dada, Gen Yakub Gowan, Flt Lt Jerry Rawlings, Gen Siad Barre, S Sgt Samuel Doe, Gen Nimeri come to mind.
While in Africa the military took power through coups, in the US presidential aspirants with military service records had more chances of succeeding and many did – the likes of Gen Eisenhower and George H W Bush.
There was a lot of human rights abuses during military rule. It was during this chaotic era that lawyers distinguished themselves as defenders of people’s rights. So when the military went out of fashion, they were replaced by former guerrillas or self-styled freedom fighters, who to a great extent, introduced competitive elections once again.
Guerrillas who took over power include Dr Robert Gabriel Mugabe, Samora Machel, Gen Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Charles Taylor, Laurent Kabila, Gen Paul Kagame and Nelson Madiba Mandela.
Lawyers were well positioned due to their earlier contribution to the struggle for freedom. They also had clout and name recognition which they exploited to win elections or get nominated to governance positions. Their numbers would swell when it came to electing the constitutional assembly. The electorate naively believed that lawyers were better suited to make a new constitution.
After the constitution was promulgated, and what followed, exposed the gullibility of the learned friends when it came to politics.
For the last 20 years no political rally worth its salt has been complete without an artiste’s significant input. Songs have been composed in praise of candidates. Popular songs have also been twitched to embrace a particular candidate or mock an opponent.
Many candidates have resorted to dancing, and pulling all sorts of unique strokes on stage at their campaign rallies. Those not so well endowed with dancing skills have sought refuge in recording studios, where their voices are dubbed over existing tracks resulting into big hits.
All these are done to attract voters, which has largely paid off. Meanwhile artistes have been observing and taking notes.
Like it was with the ex-servicemen, teachers, soldiers, lawyers, having been used by politicians, ending up in power, so might the artistes.
I hasten to add, success in politics doesn’t favour only those who are considered to be ready but those who dare. That’s why you find politicians who, despite their vast experience and proximity to power, lose to political neophytes. Here Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump respectively come to mind.