“People Power, Our Power – The fight against causes of refugeeism?”
People from Africa or those who follow ugandans politics may have heard this slogan in the recent couple of months. Those words are taken from the campaign slogan of a member of the opposition in Uganda’s parliament who is representing Kyadondo East – Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi, also known as the famous singer and artist Bobi Wine.
Activism and political statements on the side of celebrities is a growing modern subject area. Celebrities are the centre of attraction of today’s society. They rule social media, become involved in philanthropy and exert their influence by being role models in the society. More and more celebrities use their voice beyond the traditional domain of entertainment.
Bobi had his breakthrough as an artist in the East African music scene in the early 2000s, with songs such as “sunda” feat Ziggy D. His trademark is to produce meaningful music with a conscious message – or as he calls it: “Edutainment”. As the “Ghetto President” that he calls himself, he is determined to help and encourage people to take action and to help improve their wellbeing. As he is now one of the best earning artists in East Africa, he is leading by example, by using his platform to do so.
As celebrities invite admiration and are generally credited with more capacities than regular people, they can provide a common point of reference without the institutional barriers. For in our era, celebrities increasingly conquer through activism and charity initiatives, institutional positions of power. So focusing on the celebrity, the good intention gets a high media coverage.
Bobi and his wife Barbie (Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi) represent with their four children a strong African family that is loved by the people. Besides being supportive of her husband’s goals, Barbie is the founder of the NGO “Caring Hearts Uganda”, focusing on empowering the youth. Together they appeared on the cover of the Kenyan prestige magazine “parents” and in their own reality show “The Ghetto President Reality Show” in which they talk about raising their children to be as humble as possible.
Their voice is being heard through celebrity journalism, by which they are displayed and introduced to the public as well as their personal social media platforms. This way of making their lives available for the society, represents the notion of a vicious circle; consequently to the vicious circle, we shape our own tools (the celebrity) which are then shaping us. This leads from the thought that ‘the medium is the message’ [McLuhan] to the assumption that communicating the information through celebrities gains more attention.
In recent years, a great number of celebrities have taken well-recognised places in world politics. In order to draw attention to his cause, Bobi Wine decided to enrol for studies in leadership and to join politics in 2017, under his Government name Robert Kyagulanyi, to fight for Ugandans democracy.
Bobi Wines revolutionary song “situka” (eng.: stand up)
“When the going gets tough, the tough must get going, especially when leaders become misleaders and mentors become tormentors. When freedom of expression becomes a target of suppression, opposition becomes our position!”
It was P. David Marshall who identified the inextricable connection celebrities and politics share. This link appears to be even stronger in the present time than ever before, with the main evidence being former reality TV Star Donald Trump, now the president of the United States of America.