It’s that time again. Time for Ugandans of all shapes, sizes, and kingdoms – the Buganda, the Bunyoro, the Nkore, the Toro, and on and on – to cast their votes and elect a new government. Ideally, anyway. As we know, executing a free and fair election in an African nation which has struggled with civil war, rampant corruption, poverty, health care issues, and flooding – to name a few issues – is about as likely as Libyan President, Moammar Gaddafi winning a beauty contest (legitimately). There is always hope, and there is a recent example of just that happening (fair elections, not Gaddafi). The recent South-Sudanese referendum was universally praised for it’s fairness and lack of political intimidation. So, 2011 holds the possibility that Ugandans will be able to make their way to the polls free of harassment, free of intimidation, and take part in an election free of tampering from the ruling party.
If a fair election is in the cards, there is a chance that some new faces will be voted into power. Among them, popular singer and music producer Eddy Yawe, who is hoping to represent the opposition Democratic Party. Running for a seat in Parliament in the capital’s Kampala Central division, Yawe is making headlines in Uganda for his unusual campaign techniques and his progressive promises. The smooth singer is using his celebrity connections to attract attention and followers in his bid to unseat MP Erias Lukwago, whom Yawe himself campaigned on behalf of in 2006. His current campaign rallies feature appearances by other famous Ugandan musicians, including his younger brother, Bobi Wine. Yawe is using his own entrepreneurship and success to uphold his platform as a potential “projects MP.”
Educated in music, radio, and television production in the Netherlands and the United States, Yawe promises to help the youth of Kampala Central develop their innate skills to help them create opportunities of their own. His own Dream Studios, which he built from the ground up, has been the starting point for many popular Ugandan artists, and he believes that the youth of Uganda should have more opportunity to exploit their talents, rather than pursuing an education that will lead them into a non-existent job market. Poverty is very real in Uganda, and politicians need to find new ways of fighting it, he argues. Yawe has promised to create jobs for women, youth, and the disabled. He believes that these jobs will be created by investing within Uganda, and by importing skills and technology from abroad, as he did with his foreign education.
Whether Eddy Yawe wins a seat in the Parliament of Uganda remains to be seen. If he does win, the people of Uganda will find out whether he truly has the intention or even the ability to live up to his promises. Politicians keeping promises is a rare phenomenon in any country, let alone a country with the political record of Uganda. If he is able to make a real difference, perhaps his politico-musical legacy will strike a chord with other nations struggling with similar issues.