By Henry K. Otafiire
Very few if not none of musicians like Bobi Wine have shaped what we can arguably say Uganda’s modern music industry in their own image, busting and snapping it out of its rigid strictures and helping to forge something entirely new, edutaining and revolutionary.
What’s the point of music, really? Is it simply an exercise in accumulating precious awards, attracting king-sized crowds at concerts and basking in the limelight of stardom?
Is it ultimately about who sang many songs, who pulled more crowds and who didn’t? Is it about buying and fronting splashy mansions and luxurious cars. Can it – should it – must it – be about that or more than that?
And I know we can debate until cows come home who is the greatest musician alive today in Uganda. Jose Chameleon is the Godfather of Ugandan music who has won more awards than anybody else; Bebe Cool has shelved equally impressive awards than any other musician in Uganda.
Eddy Kenzo too, has the most viewed music videos on YouTube than any other musician in Uganda today and has bagged numerous awards including BET- a prestigious award by international standards.
In short: It’s a pointless to indulge in this debate because it will never end depending on which side you belong to. But there comes a point where “show us your awards” exhausts its usefulness.
Bobi Wine is the greatest artist the industry has ever witnessed and I can’t prove it, or show it on a graph. He just is. Oh, ofcourse there is a significant body of work and achievements to his name:
He has scooped numerous awards, After all, you don’t become one of Uganda’s most celebrated musician without such accomplishments. But it’s the often overlooked things where Bobi Wine distinguishes himself from his nemeses: the unsurpassable legacy of a musician who has disrupted Ugandan Music industry itself.
Before Bobi Wine, Ugandan music was lacklustre, pedestrian and uninspiring. Of course the old guard who enjoyed Kadongo Kamu which was pioneered by Princes Kafeero won’t agree with me.
Am not suggesting that he has single-handedly been responsible for it’s transformation but he has been the industry’s outstanding individual throughout its defining period:Jose Chameleon and Bebe Cool can be described as great musicians. Bobi Wine, by contrast, has at least two great artist in one. As a pop star, as a leader, as a musician-cum politician.
He has sang the sort of music never seen on Ugandan radio airwaves and TV screens. It has been healing musically, fulfilling aesthetically, socially edutaining and politically awakening.
He has set a standard so high for his biggest nemeses. Bobi wine has sang songs appealing to the underprivileged people’s hearts. His politically charged music has set out to highlight the desperate plight of his ghetto people in particular and the poor and oppressed in general.
At its heart: he has been speaking truth to power.
At his peak, Bobi Wine is now more than a musician. He is an icon, a symbol and an idol who has transcended the demands of a conventional artist.
He has combined music knitted it all together with a message that is empowering with breathtaking flair that none of his arch-rivals can match.
Jose Chameleon has too inspired Ugandan music to its pre-eminence. Bobi Wine has inspired a whole generation. Bebe Cool has dominated the industry too when it has been at its weakest before receding into the ensemble of praise singing and bootlicking.
Bobi Wine has dominated it during its seminal era, and for pretty much the entire time he has been here. Bebe cool and Jose Chameleon have pulled crowds on their feet and won their hearts. Bobi Wine has done it more painstakingly with humility, class and grace without kicking anybody in the face.
Good Life lit up Ugandan music for a few years before the unceremonial departure of its main Architect Radio Mozey. Bobi Wine has shaped and influenced the direction of the industry before squeezing out the last few drops of his career and move into unpredictable and uncharted murky waters of our politics.
Even after his switch to politics, he has remained with his clout and lure he carried throughout his music career. Look at how he has inspired a wave of musicians and celebrities joining politics which was a reserve of career politicians
And that’s a legacy that will stand the test of time. Ofcourse it’s about singing good songs, it’s about awards, it’s about pouring every last drop of yourself out onto that stage and leaving nothing in reserve. It’s about doing it when it matters, when the clock’s running down and the voice is waning and tired and you’ve got to hang on.
Music is a sort of joy that permeates every facet of society beyond narrow boundaries of tribalism and politics. It offers exhilaration you can’t express in a graph, the sort of inspiration you can’t smoke from a seasoned motivational speaker, it heals pangs of anger and hatred no pyschothogist can mend and it offers that feeling you can’t inscribe on a wall. And its exactly what Bobi Wine has been doing through his music since he shot on the music scene.
It’s the less measurable and unquantifiable stuff where Bobi Wine truly distinguishes himself: the unsurpassable legacy of a musician who has disrupted Ugandan Music itself in ways no one had anticipated when he set out as a low grade musician a few decades ago. And if we’re anointing the greatest music icon of our modern era, I think it’s proper and fair we should settle for anything less other Bobi Wine.