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

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid