ART FOR REVOLUTIONS
History has observed that mankind has used art for a great number of distinct functions, which is why the purpose of art cannot be compressed into a single concept. Revolutions for one, are not solely based on war and independence; revolution is about changing or making something new or different and spreading it to the masses, this can be accomplished through the arts. “A paradox in itself, art can reflect beauty, speaking to our longing to experience it. At the same time, art can reflect the despotic and the revolting, either driving us away or charging powerful emotions in us.” Gimel Samera. Editor, The Missing Slate.
A revolutionary is an individual who either takes an interest in, or advocates upset. A revolutionary alludes to something that has a noteworthy, abrupt effect on society or on some part of human undertaking.
New to the list of African revolutionaries is an artist, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, known by the stage name Bobi Wine. A popular Ugandan politician, businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, musician, freedom fighter and actor. He has recently attracted attention on social media through the use of hashtag #freebobiwine
Bobi Wine began his music career in 1999, and adapted the stage name Bobi Wine. His first singles Akagoma, Funtula, and Sunda (featuring Ziggy D) brought Wine success in the East African music scene. His music connects reggae, dancehall, and afrobeat styles, often with a socially conscious message. He started a new group, Ghetto Republic of Uganda and has recorded more than 70 songs over 15 years. Throughout Uganda’s election period in 2015 and 2016, Wine refocused his messages to call for tolerance of different views. Wine’s public calls for calm activism during the 2016 election – with songs such as Dembe – provoked mixed reactions from different political interests in Uganda. Following the 2016 election, Bobi released the song Situka, which challenges Ugandans to do something about corruption and injustice in their country. The song opens with the lines: “When the going gets tough, the tough must get going, especially when our Leaders have become Misleaders and Mentors have become Tormentors. When freedom of expression is met with suppression and oppression.”
Bobi Wine has recently been remanded to Luzira Prison until May 2, 2019 subsequent to being accused of rebellion of statutory obligation, an offense he committed in July last year.
Sauti Sol, a Kenyan afro-pop band formed in Nairobi by vocalists Bien-Aimé Baraza, Willis Chimano and Savara Mudigi are also on the road to being great revolutionaries in Kenya. The group gained recognition in Kenya with club bangers but have recently chosen to speak out about the defilement and populism taking steps to wreck the nation’s advancement. They released ‘Tujiangalie’, featuring Nyashinski signifying “self-reflection” in Swahili. Sauti Sol’s song has brought about discussions on social media on the country’s current state.
Creatives Garage calls out for more creatives to participate in artivism as this is the language artists use in bringing out social and cultural change.
“This is the time for every artist in every genre to do what he or she does loudly and consistently. It doesn’t matter to me what your position is. You’ve got to keep asserting the complexity and the originality of life, and the multiplicity of it, and the facets of it. This is about being a complex human being in the world, not about finding a villain. This is no time for anything else than the best that you’ve got.”
― Toni Morrison