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Who is to blame for the Jamaican, Nigerian music invasion into Uganda?

When Bebe Cool started a facebook rant about DJs not playing enough local music, I wanted to give him a benefit of a doubt so I started by going through my favorite channels, later I picked the phone and called Touch Fm, it’s a Rock stations that plays more pop and rap music, I request for Radio and Weasel’s BET and Channel O nominated Can’t let you go, the presenter tells me she can’t play the song but when I switch to Ice Prince’s Gimme Some more which was also nominated for the same awards, am told they will get it for me.
So am left wondering, if these two songs competed at two grand levels, why is it that one can get air play and not the other, was Bebe probably right?
The debate can go on as to who should be blamed for the Jamaican invasion of the industry.
Since time immemorial, Ugandan DJs have never been so enthusiastic about playing Ugandan music. Today they will yell about how Ugandan music in the 90s was the real deal yet at that time, they indeed frustrated those artistes that many are living as paupers presently.
When Sanyu Fm was at the top of the game, they championed the oppression of local music with a very foreign music catalogue coupled with borrowed accents to play it.
Then to the late 90s, it took CBS and the likes of Simba to give the industry a lease of life. During the first six years of English stations like Capital and Sanyu FM, the industry didn’t pull any strides, Steve Jean, Ragga Dee, Ssematimba, Iryn Namubiru, Julianna, RS Elvis and the others were still underground acts – many left the country for Kyeyo.
Though after new entrants CBS and Simba, it took less than two years for local music to gain a footing with songs like Doole Y’omwana and later Maama Mia ruling the airwaves, then come Red Banton’s Nonya Money and later Bebe and Bobi followed with Fitina and Kagoma.
But then how did Jamaican and Nigerians invade us.
According to Sanyu FM’s Fat Boy when artistes start coping a certain culture, it makes them look like wannabes, in other words when the top artiste struggles to sound Nigerian in songs or shoot cliché videos like them, he gets promoters and DJs feeling that’s its Nigerian that people want and it’s what the DJ will play – real Nigerian.
“The culture that artistes push is what at times comes home to roost them, I will never go for Cindy when I can have N’yanda or Tanya Stevens, accommodate Navio when you can listen to Kanye, or better Bebe Cool when I can get the real Konsens.”
Much as many music fans especially those of his Sanyu Breakfast show seem to concur with him, others like Odonkara Godfrey totally disagree saying that charity has to begin at home since Nigerians also started by loving their own.
“Most of us run after foreign things, just because it’s Nigerian or Jamaican we assume its classy,” he says adding that he’s surprised by DJs trying to pass off Jamaican music as quality.
In Bebe Cool’s support, more local artistes like Prisca Mikami, Allan Tonix, Navio and Dr Hilderman too voiced their concerns about the DJs. some artistes even noted that DJs want to be paid if they are to play a Ugandan song, but its Bebe’s nemesis Chameleone that put it better.
He says that as local artistes, they are not asking for segregation of foreign music but a fair share of the industry they’ve stood by against all odds.
 “In such an exchange we also know that our products are not to what many can call “standards” but also it’s partially every Ugandans duty to contribute to our growth evenly,” Chameleone says adding that it’s about Uganda and what’s ours; “if your father is broke, would you seek a richer dad? We stand together, Grow together if we are to fall together. Let’s be patriotic and grow our music.”
Broadcast consultant and proprietor of the new Luganda paper Ebbaluwa, Joel Isabirye, currently finishing a book about the local industry suggests that that media should give more allocation to local music than the international one on a ratio of 70:30 but also thinks musicians should be trained to cope with the demands of the public.
“We need to protect our music industry in the interest of national development, tomorrow it will be DJ Beekay’s son trying to break through a Naija infested local industry,” he notes.
On one of her shows, Touch FM presenter  Maggie, says that the station indeed plays local music but the quality of that song matters, she picks out Maurice Kirya, Maddox, Esther from TPF and ‘some songs’ by Lillian – none of these artistes has more than four albums!
“It doesn’t have to be too local,” she says.
On normal days its easy to catch the station play songs by Selif Keita or Bella Kouyate, but these are local traditional music artistes from Mali!!!
One urdent fan of the station Winnie Nakate, calls it sheer hypocrisy – “if touch can afford to play poor quality Nigerian songs like Yori Yori, Gobe and Azonto, then why set high standards for Ugandan artistes?”
The question remains to the fans, who’s responsible for the absence of local music on the airwaves?

About Kaggwa Andrew

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