‘Rap-or­ters’ tell news hip-hop style

Lesotho Times - - Lifestyle -

KAMPALA — Newzbeat makes a catchy change from a stan­dard news bul­letin: Ugan­dans call the broad­cast­ers “rap-or­ters”, a youth team of hip-hop artists-turned-jour­nal­ists rap­ping the head­lines.

“Uganda’s anti-gay law is mak­ing news/ Some coun­tries have found it be­fit­ting to ac­cuse/uganda of treat­ing gays as Ger­man Jews/noth­ing to gain from this and more to lose,” rapped the artists in one re­cent episode.

That song fo­cused on a law signed by Pres­i­dent Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni ban­ning ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, which drew wide­spread in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion. US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry likened it to anti-semitic leg­is­la­tion in Nazi Ger­many.

“Pres­i­dent Mu­sev­eni says he won’t bow down to the West/uganda has a right to de­cide what’s best,” the rap con­tin­ued.

Hear­ing the news in hip-hop style may sound strange. But in Uganda, where the press faces cen­sor­ship pres­sures and the coun­try’s huge youth pop­u­la­tion of­ten takes lit­tle in­ter­est in cur­rent af­fairs, a pro­gramme where “rap-or­ters” broad­cast with “rhyme and rea­son” has be­come pop­u­lar.

Newzbeat, screened in both English and the lo­cal lan­guage Lu­ganda on the pop­u­lar chan­nel NTV ev­ery Satur­day af­ter­noon and evening be­fore the sta­tion’s tra­di­tional news bul­letins, took to the air last year. said the stu­dent, who has been rap­ping since 2009 and now jug­gles her “Newzbeat” com­mit­ments with her home­work.

Kisekka (40) said that in the be­gin­ning many view­ers dis­missed the show as “just en­ter­tain­ment”, but they have come to “ap­pre­ci­ate the art form and start lis­ten­ing to the news”.

Peo­ple were now tak­ing rap more se­ri­ously, the artist said.

“It is not just talk­ing about women and booze and all that, it’s de­liv­er­ing the news,” said Kisekka.

For the fu­ture, Newzbeat staff are look­ing at re­cruit­ing spe­cial­ist “rap-or­ters” to cover fields such as science and tech­nol­ogy. They are also keen to ex­pand across Africa.

In Tan­za­nia, a mini-sea­son of four episodes re­cently aired and another four are set to run in the lead-up to the coun­try’s elec­tions, sched­uled for Oc­to­ber.

“Media be­longs to the power of the day,” Bwogi rapped in one episode. “The Chi­nese have CCTV/THE Bri­tish have BBC/AND we too are mak­ing our voices heard on NTV.”


NEWZBEAT’S host Sharon Bwogi AKA Lady Slyke (left), writer and pro­duc­ter Daniel kisekka aka ‘Sur­vivor’ (cen­tre) and rap­per Zoe kabuye aka ‘MC Loy’.

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