President Museveni and the Creative Art Industry in Uganda

According to the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, Article 29 (1), every person shall have the right to (a) freedom of speech and expression which shall include freedom of the press and other media. Majority of artists are misinterpreting this law, ending up misleading and attacking leaders thinking that they are protected by Article 29 (1).

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By David Serumaga

Following the recent proposed and ‘Stage Play and Public Entertainment Rules’, it caused a lot of commotion and criticism from a number of artists claiming that the government is hunting their industry since a number of artists are now in active politics.

Others connected it to the populism politics of Bobi Wine now the Member of Parliament representing Kyadondo East.

It’s unfair for members in the creative art industry not to appreciate the efforts of the NRM Government and President Museveni in developing this industry.

A number of Ugandan artists are now referred to as millionaires, not because they are the highly educated citizens for them to get much pay but because there are factors that have made them enjoy this industry. The tight security experienced in Uganda has given over 98% of our artists to operate at night, moving to several places entertaining masses without being attacked or harmed.

According to the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, Article 29 (1), every person shall have the right to (a) freedom of speech and expression which shall include freedom of the press and other media. Majority of artists are misinterpreting this law, ending up misleading and attacking leaders thinking that they are protected by Article 29 (1).

Those who witnessed the Obote and Idd Amin’s regime have on several times testified that President Museveni is far better than any other leaders when it comes to supporting the creative art industry in Uganda.

In 1977, a drama group called ‘Kampala City Players’ was saddened by the disappearance and death of their leader Brylon Kawadwa and his body was dumped in Namanve forest near Kampala. Just after his burial, some of the members in his group went into exile.

Unlike Kawadwa, several artists had read the signs and had long fled into exile in 1968. Okot p’Bitek, a poet and author of the renowned Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol, fled to Kenya to teach at the University of Nairobi because his content did not please President Milton Obote.

Robert Serumaga, the author of Return to the Shadows, a novel critical of the Obote regime, also fled into exile. Mr. Serumaga also wrote plays like The Elephants, Majangwa, and Amayirikiti.

On the morning of August 4, 1974, well known Ugandan musician Jessy Gitta Kasirivu, was violently arrested and killed by Idi Amin’s infamous State Research Bureau (SRB) agents.

It was after this instance that forced his friend Tonny Senkebejje to run into exile after discovering that artists were not immune to political brutalities of the then governments.  

Such examples prove that President Museveni is incomparable in supporting artists even when many abuse him, attack him in their songs, play and comedy skits.

A lot of satirical content has been witnessed in many creative art projects but President Museveni has remained calm as artists keep enjoying the freedom of expression.

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