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

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    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.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora