By Joseph Kabuleta

I have learnt that oppression is like a wildfire.
The best place to fight it is when it’s across the valley on the adjacent hill.
But if you see it raging and turn in to sleep, thinking it is far away, you will wake up and find it at your doorstep. And that is often too late.

Well, guess what! Now the fire has spread to the music industry and the people who celebrated the subjugation of pastors have finally pulled their heads out of the sand and are seeing this so-called regulation for what it truly is; oppression.

I have not been to a musical concert, album launch or any such thing in decades.
So I could also be like some of you and cheer government’s suppression of musicians.
I could also pretend that I don’t see the repressive spirit behind the new laws.
I could argue that many artists appear in adverts and not on stage; thereby fleecing the public.
I could make a case for charlatans in the music industry, for copyright theft, for insecurity and lack of hygiene at these concerts, and all such things which actually exist.
I could argue that, in order to root out these malpractices, all musicians should have a minimum qualification of a Diploma in Music Dance and Drama (MDD).
I could also argue that Police is responding to an outcry from music lovers and is moving to stop their exploitation, and then end my discourse by reminding you that government has a right and a duty to protect its citizens from greedy artists.
I could….. but I cannot.
Because that would make me a dishonest person, and I am not.

I know that this government — the exploiter in chief — cannot be concerned about people being exploited. I know that

the new regulation of the music industry is all about political control, same as the one for Pastors. That’s why I will stand with musicians in their quest to fend off the oppressor.
I wrote on this forum how government had put a leash on the media in the guise of regulating it (check my previous posts if you didn’t see it). The media got comfortable in its kennel and supported government’s effort to lock up the Pastors as well. If that succeeds, then both media and Pastors will cheer as the puppet master puts a hook in the jaws of musicians and draws them into the same internment.
Before long every group will either be in passive self-confinement or in actual confinement.

The truth is; we are such an easy lot to subjugate because most people make emotional and fragmented arguments that are based purely on their vantage point. If it does not directly affect them, they will keep quiet at best, or worse, support it, no matter how oppressive it is.

Very few people think collectively or make cut-across arguments.
If I fight for the Pentecostals to enjoy their freedom of worship exercised within the confines of existing laws, I am by extension fighting for other faiths too, including traditionalists. I don’t have to be part of them to believe in their right to self-express. I don’t even have to like them.


If I was in a position of authority, could I legislate against witchdoctors just because I find them distasteful? Who gives me that right? Wouldn’t that make me a tyrant just like the one currently at the top? Possibly even worse?
If everyone had fought the wildfire when it was on the pastors’ hill, it would never have spread to the musicians’ hill.

Now it’s our collective responsibility to ensure that this blaze doesn’t spread to any other hill.


First published by Watchdog Uganda,
22nd January 2019


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