In Summary
  • The issue: Banning song
  • Our view: Should the RDC feel aggrieved or offended, he should report the case to the relevant authorities, including the police and UCC, as custodians of law and order and regulators.

The move by Kitgum District security officials to ban airplay of a local hit song, Mac onywalo buru (Fire begets ash), is ill-advised. The ban on the song by pop singer Lucky Bosmic Otim passes for increasing restriction of freedom of expression by a redundant Resident District Commissioner (RDC) and his security team. They seem overly keen to seek approval from the powers that be rather than enforce their mandate as coordinators and overseers of key government programmes.

The song, no doubt, is harsh in its criticisms of northern region’s ministers, MPs, and sons of past presidents and army chiefs against whom President Museveni waged wars and had previously labelled “pigs” and never reconciled with. The song also rebukes the current crop of leaders from northern Uganda and West Nile for betraying their regions and becoming turn-coats and neglectful of persons who loyally stood by them and their fathers while in power.

This song ordinarily lies in the realm of entertainment. But at a higher level, its sharp criticisms sit within age-old roles that artistes shoulder as the singing consciousness of society.

Bosmic’s song favourably compares with similar ones, including one titled Mzee Wumula (take a rest, old man), which prosecutors claimed directly attacked the person of President Museveni and intended to disturb his peace. But to the President and his handlers’ credit, singers David Mugema and Jonathan Muwanguzi, were dragged to court and charged with offensive communication. The case has since been dismissed.

And this is how civilised societies work and Kitgum RDC William Komakech should borrow a leaf from here, and not act crudely as if he and his team are the law unto themselves.
Mr Komakech should first listen carefully to one of the targets of the song, former Kitgum Town Council “mayor” Richard Ojara Okwera, son of the late Maj Pacific Okwera, the UNLA commander of western garrison. He describes the song as “exquisitely beautiful, powerful and properly loaded with excellent message.” He adds: “If Okwera Richard Ojara and other serious suspects [targets] are not complaining whatsoever, then who the hell is this RDC?”

For now, there are no specifics of offences that the RDC and his security team deem Bosmic could have offended. Could it be the language, style of communication, or could it be the message, or mention of high personalities in the song? Short of this, the RDC and his team’s reaction is outright wrong and they should withdraw the directive.

Should the RDC feel aggrieved or offended, he should report the case to the relevant authorities, including the police and Uganda Communications Commission, as custodians of law and order and regulators of what is shared online or is broadcast.