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 Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.