News / Africa

    Ugandan TV Show Features News in Rap

    Rapper MC Loy, 13, records rap news to appeal to a younger audience, Kampala, March 20, 2014. (Hilary Heuler/VOA)
    Rapper MC Loy, 13, records rap news to appeal to a younger audience, Kampala, March 20, 2014. (Hilary Heuler/VOA)
    Uganda has a new TV news program, featuring rappers presenting current events in verse. One is a 13-year-old girl. The program hopes to reach out to the young, and to push the boundaries of social commentary.
     
    “Uganda has the youngest population in the world. Seven out of 10 people are less than 30-years-old. Eight out of 10 are unemployed. Even with a degree or diploma, finding work is still a drama, " raps Zoe Kabuye a.k.a. MC Loy.

    She knows the problems of Ugandan youth because she's a teenager who just started secondary school. But MC Loy is also a rising TV star, one of three journalists on a new program in which the news is presented through rap.
     
    “It shows what takes place in the country, and we talk about it. Mostly the youth don’t like to watch news, but a couple of them like rap. So the form of what we do, it will attract them to listen to the news and to know what’s taking place in their country," she explains.
     
    Presenter Daniel Kisekka, a.k.a. Survivor, has been in the music industry for decades. But journalism, he says, is different from anything he has done before.
     
    “It involves a lot of research. You have to dig deep so that you don’t give wrong information, and you have to be critical of both sides. You have to be objective, so that you represent everybody in fairness," says Survivor, adding that they do not want to be too objective.
     
    “That is kind of our extra bonus. You can play around a bit," he explained.
     
    “Another idea can be to start up a new religion. Every other day a pastor makes a million. One Nigerian pastor is particularly blessed. He has a Rolls Royce and a private jet. He prays on the weak and knows how to speak. Hands you a check as you turn the other cheek," Survivor raps during the news show.
     
    The rappers cover everything from entertainment news to politics, often with sharp barbs of social commentary thrown in among the rhymes. Producer Arnold Aganze says their medium, music, lets them say things other journalists might not.
     
    “Sometimes I even think journalists have kind of borders, but us, we are just artists who are singing, so we can sing whatever we want. We don’t hide talking about any topic. We can just sing," he says.
     
    Controversial topics


    Recent episodes have poked fun at Uganda’s anti-pornography act, widely believed to have banned miniskirts. And as for the country’s harsh new anti-homosexuality law, the rappers noted that some were comparing it to anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany. In Uganda, says Aganze, that is pushing the envelope.
     
    Limitations

    But even rappers can only go so far. Human rights groups report that media freedom in Uganda is eroding, and last year two national newspapers were shut down by the government for over a week.
     
    Survivor says he and the other rappers know that there are limits to what they can write.
     
    “This is now journalism and there’s a thin line between what you can say and what you can’t say, so we have to be careful. I’ve met journalists that give you that kind of caution, that hey, what you’re doing is nice, but you have to be careful otherwise they will shut you down before you continue. There’s a threat, but we will try our best," he says.
     
    What they say is important because the youth are listening, says Survivor, especially to the teenaged MC Loy. They might not read newspapers or watch the normal newscasts, he says, but they do need to know what is happening in Uganda.
     
    “Because it’s their country. It is their destiny. They are going to inherit a lot of baggage. We are no longer in a world where your village is your world. They have to know what’s going on out there," notes Survivor.
     
    Rap can entertain but it can also empower, he adds. If you want to reach young people, Survivor adds, you have to speak to them in their own language.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora