I have more than five years’ working experience in the media industry. I wield a skillful pen as a writer, and I'm presently a features writer at the "Features Desk" of the “New Vision”- Uganda’s premier Newspaper.
Before I joined the New Vision, I had worked a broadcast Journalist with Signal FM radio in Mbale, Eastern Uganda. My weekly Hip Hop show packed a punch and was very popular with the youth demographic in Eastern Uganda.
Writing Poetry and Rapping [ I'm the pioneer of Luma-Flow-(Lumaasaba Hip Hop Music) and I have 5 albums under my belt].
Playing basketball-Several medals and Certificates received for playing the game
Philanthropy and social activism
Phone Contact-+256756096335, Emailemail@example.com
Is Ugandan Hip Hop about to witness a revival with news that respected veterans-GNL Zamba and Lyrical G are releasing new albums or have already, like in the case of Lyrical G?
For many of the genre’s loyal fans, news of the album releases is a welcome development, given the genre-uplifting pedigrees of the two wordsmiths. GNL and Lyrical G significantly helped raise the profile of Ugandan Hip Hop in the mid-2000's.
“Their influence is still manifest in many of today’s rappers but their absence has been felt, in many ways, because increasingly, today an afro-ragga sound and vibe, championed by the likes of Gravity is rather unflatteringly, being seen and fronted as Hip Hop,” Gladys Kituyi, an entertainment blogger, says.
There are rappers like Judas Rap Knowledge, Fefe Busi, etc who have kept true to the genre’s fundamentals, more like what GNL, Babaluku and LG did but they, of course, know there are long odds stacked against them.
The scoop that rap fans will have two albums to rock to, this year should hopefully be added onto a log enumerating some of the genre’s highlights for this year, 2019.
Besides the 2019 MTN Hip Hop awards, there is nothing else substantial, which has happened for the genre, this year.
“The MTN awards brought some spark back to a genre, which essentially still risks, sinking into oblivion,” Kituyi says.
Why fans should be upbeat
There is every reason to be upbeat though, with this news. Just lyrically speaking, you will be hard-pressed, today to find a hip hop artist in Uganda who wields as skillful a pen as GNL or Lyrical G.
Hip Hop, in many respects, requires not good but proficient poetic writing skills and that is where GNL and Lyrical G have a forte.
Hip Hop emcees [rappers] will talk about anything and most times, they make it sound thought-provoking, witty and educative.
Other times, they use hyperbole, braggadocio, metaphors, and many other figures of speech.
In the history of Ugandan hip hop, few rappers have flexed those skills, better than GNL and Lyrical G.
Other emcees have excelled, of course, such as Navio, Babaluku, Ibraw, Mon M.C, The Mith, L.G, Rugged Made, Ruuyonga, Keko, among others.
The few talented Hip Hop artists who showed that they also wielded skillful pens when it comes to writing Hip Hop rhymes after GNL’s efforts brought Hip Hop to the mainstream, likeCyno M.C, St Nellysade, Burney, Patrobas, among others, regrettably took hiatuses and that sadly spawned the rise of many of today’s Kidandali [afro ragga] beat rappers.
“You can not lay claim to Hip Hop when you rap on afro ragga beats and stop laying claim to the Hip Hop throne when you are far removed from the Hip Hop genre’s fundamentals,” Gid Kibuka, a Hip Hop producer/Emcee in Ntinda, says.
“If you call yourself Hip Hop, rap or rhyme on a real Hip Hop beat. Bottom-line. Do not give me the same old mediocre notion that a pure rap beat, will not resonate with Ugandans and that a dancehall ragga beat suffices more. Hip Hop has an audience here. They are a silent majority. All these young people you see around the country, rocking jeans, baseball caps, sneakers and walking with prances in their steps are part of a growing Hip Hop generation. They are growing up on Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, Drake, and Rick Ross.”
Kibuka adds “The only vestiges of Hip Hop about the afro ragga artists who choose to water down their subject matter to “beans” and “goats being on the loose” are the baggy t-shirts, loose-fitting jeans, sneakers, and bling they wear. Fashion-wise, they promote Hip Hop, but not musically.”
The genre has been debased by a bunch of John come lately seeking to expand the genre’s horizons, without respecting its fundamentals.
“When some people come forth and say rap on a Hip Hop beat, do not perceive them as haters or people stuck in the past. Yes, the genre is evolving and yes the dance beat resonates with many people, but there is a crowd out there that minds about preserving a legacy and the knowledge fundamentals of Hip Hop,” Gilbert Bwete, a hip hop archivist, notes.
“Hip Hop is akin to Kadongo Kamu-deeply meaningful and poetic. The guys who rap on afro ragga beats are not Hip Hop artists. If there are award shows, it is only right that they are nominated in the right genre category which is afro ragga. Do you remember how Abdu Murasi was given a go by and ignored by the Kadongo Kamu community; it will be the same with the afro ragga artists who pretend they are Hip Hop, with time.”
New dawn coming
With all that said, however, there is a new dawn coming with GNL’S and Lyrical G’s-the Spear and Geezy albums respectively.
The visual trailer for GNL’s album is nothing short of captivating and already, some of his fans are speculating that it may be 2019’s Ugandan Hip Hop album of the year.
Lyrical G’s-Geezy album, on the other hand, was released on the 30th of August.
He has been putting out audio and video teasers on social media and local T.V stations like Urban, NTV, and NBS.
The long-suffering genre, where real Hip Hop artists are shunned and the pseudo ones who rap on afro ragga beats are embraced, quickly needs a new lease of life.
That new lease may come with the two albums. Historically, however, albums have been a hard sell in Uganda and the United States; they are increasingly becoming a thing of the past.
In the past decade or so, album sales across the world have been going down. Music fans’ have gotten more partial to singles downloads, than buying whole albums.
GNL star’s shinning abroad
GNL moved to the United States with his wife-Miriam Tamar, some few years ago. They got married but the most important anecdote is that he has not put his music career on the back burner.
Matter of factly, he went the world music way, dropping a joint album with his wife, last year entitled-“Nsimbi” and for good measure, a single off the album-called “Leo ni Leo” won the best World Beat accolade at the recent International Music Awards in New York.
You would be wrong, however, to assume, that he has lost his rap mojo.
In the past year, he blessed his fans with songs like “Zamba the great”, which had him impressively rapping in English, Boasty and “Yours Sincerely”, among others.
GNL was channeling his old self with “Zamba the Great” and “Yours Sincerely”.
“Yours Sincerely” particularly showed GNL’s sensibilities, proving he was fully aware of the threat to his stronghold on the Lugaflow throne, by young rappers, who honed their styles on his earlier music and who intended to use his wordplay blueprint on other beats, other than Hip Hop,” Rugged made, a veteran hip hop emcee and a mainstay on the Kampala battle rap scene, says.
“Lyrically, none of the “Who is Who” rap bragging rights song versions is anywhere near “Yours Sincerely”. “
The “Yours sincerely” record was in Hip Hop speak-“dope”-denoting-really good. It exhibited GNL’s superior and creative wordplay, lyrical dexterity, braggadocio, and excellent rhyming skills.
If you listen closely to the record, you can tell GNL was seriously intent on reminding everyone that he still reigns as the King of Lugaflow, despite being away.
Given the bad blood between GNL and Gravity, the odds of him, including a direct or subliminal disparaging song, towards Gravity are ten to one.
There is hope that with these new albums, the rap game, which has slowly been dying a slow death, can resurrect and yes if you are a true Hip Hop fan, it is time to start, rubbing your hands in glee.
The issue of how Uganda can sustainably improve learning outcomes for its young school going citizens has, once again come to the fore; with the World Bank proposing in its 13th edition "Economic Update on Human capital in Uganda- report” that the country, among other things-abolishes PLE [National exam in the final grade of Primary school] as a means to improve transition rates to lower secondary and to achieve universal lower secondary enrolment.
It a contentious proposal, which has raised eyebrows, even when the World Bank says the policy of abolishing exams in the final grade of primary, is now widely being adopted in developed and developing countries, across the globe.
In the report, the World Bank; posits that low PLE pass rates are the reason, Uganda has, in the last decade, had a declining primary-lower secondary school transition rate.
The transition rate has apparently declined from 72-61%.
The Bank says Uganda will need to improve its lower secondary education enrolment from 32-47% by 2025.
Ostensibly, Uganda lags behind its East African neigbours in terms of improving enrolment at the lower secondary level.
Fred Mwesigye, the Executive Director of the Forum for Education NGOS in Uganda, tells Masaabachronicle that the proposal to scrap PLE is besides the real issue, plaguing Uganda’s checkered education sector.
“The linkages between exams and learner transition rates are very minimal. We exam to determine whether learners have understood what they were taught.
In Uganda, there are far more compelling reasons, behind the low transition rates such as poverty,” Mwesigye says.
“To the end, if Uganda is to improve its primary to lower secondary transition rates and learning outcomes, it will, among other things, have to pay its teachers better and to avail more capitation grants for learners in poor areas of the country.
Better paid teachers work diligently and create enjoyable environments for learners.”
Dr Joseph Muvawala, the executive director of the National Planning Authority, says:
“While abolishing the PLE examinations is feasible, implementation, just like it is been with continuous assessment will be a challenge.”
Fagil Mandy, a renowned education consultant, says Uganda can expand access to lower secondary, without necessarily scrapping PLE.
“The suggestion that PLE exams should be dispensed with is untenable. If the exams are not bringing out the quality, we want in our learners, we need to look at alternatives, which will equip our learners with skills.
If that calls for the combining of continuous assessment and the summative exam system, Iam for it,” Mandy says.
Edward Lule, proprietor of Busega Preparatory school says: “There is no way you can determine if someone has succeeded academically, if you do not test them. There are other underlying issues, significantly affecting the quality of our education sector such as low teacher to rising pupil ratios, absenteeism and the lack of inspection and supervision. Those need to be addressed in earnest, first.”
Jacob Richards Opolot, the chairperson of Parliament’s education committee, says:
“Scrapping PLE is not the antidote to improving transition rates from primary to lower secondary, nor is it automatic promotion. Our checkered education system will need past issues such as high fees, low teacher salaries, lack of learning materials. Etc.
As the World Bank report shows, however, Uganda has a lot more, at issue, to deal with, than just the abolishment of PLE.
The other policy recommendation, it posits, which has drawn forth, varied reactions from education experts, is that Uganda adopts an automatic class promotion policy, because of the enrolment bulge, repetition has created in primary schools.
Scrapping of the class repetition and PLE, according to the report, would save Uganda $183-[sh 688,802.85].
Mwesigye takes issue with the suggestion about automatic promotion.
“The proposal that Uganda adopts an automatic promotion policy is one I do not subscribe to.
How is it a quality enhancement measure when learners are promoted to the next class without mastering or understanding, what they are taught?”
Patrick Kaboyo, the national secretary of the Federation of Non-State Education Institutions, rejects the proposal to abolish repetition saying there should be accountability and value for money.
Kaboyo proposes the introduction of supplementary examinations just as it is done in Universities.
The other proposition, by the World Bank was on adopting the quality enhancement measure of continuous assessment.
It is not the first time; calls have been made for Uganda to adopt a formative assessment system for learning.
Grace Baguma, the Director of the National Curriculum Development Center, told the New Vision, earlier this year, that the center was conceptualizing a new curriculum, which would lay focus on formative assessments for Uganda’s learners.
It is a policy; eminent Ugandan education experts like Professor William Senteza made a case for.
“One of the reasons, continuous assessment has faced long odds is apathy and the lack of knowledge on how it works in Primary and National Teacher Colleges,” Reuben Wanasolo, an education consultant and researcher, says.
The World Bank says Uganda will need to enforce regular school inspections to guide the new changes in teaching and learning practices if continuous assessment is implemented.
Education consultant Shmuelo Ssebwana of Sias Book Trust Holdings concurs:
“Supervision and monitoring are some of the reasons, earlier efforts to roll out continuous assessment failed. Many teachers, who objected to it, in the past, said it was time consuming. How can one say, it is time consuming yet they have time to rush through the syllabus. Ugandan society demands and puts focus on results, rather than proper learning outcomes for its young people. This has to change.”
Christopher Muganga, the assistant commissioner in charge of reforms at the NCDC says continuous assessment, would by now, be part and parcel of the curriculum, if schools had not misconstrued it.
“Instead of using it to check learners progress, over a period of time, schools used it to check learner’s class attendance, to entice parents to pay money early enough and to gauge whether their learners would get good or bad grades in the national exams. The lack of a detailed implementation plan exacerbated the problem, but the new curriculum, provides a new lease of life,” Muganga says.
The World Bank report also picked up the rather damning evidence from the National Early grade reading assessments which showed that only 28% of learners in P.3 can read 20 words per minute.
Even more damning, was the percentage attributed to numeracy skills of P.4 pupils.
Ostensibly only 2% of learners can solve a simple age-appropriate maths problem by the end of P.4.
Alex Kakooza, the education ministry’s permanent secretary, however says the pilot early grade reading assessments carried out in select districts, have improved many learners’ numeracy and literacy skills.
Opolot, says the education ministry should lay more focus on making study environments enjoyable for learners, improving learner assessments and setting aside more money to re-tool and hire more qualified teachers.
“Not everyone who finishes PLE should transition to secondary. First of all, at this time, the resource envelope is limited, yet more classrooms and student capitation grants will be needed. More learners should be encouraged to join vocational schools,” Mandy says.
“We should also earnestly look into improving the quality of our exams. If UNEB plays the tune of reforming the exam system, the teachers will dance. If it sticks to platitudes or the old system, nothing much will change,” Mandy adds.
Ssebwana says the government owes it to every learner and parent to get tough on the issue of public school-teacher absenteeism.
“Teacher absenteeism is a big issue in public schools. There are many district inspectors of schools, whose ineptitude lies at the root of this problem.
The education ministry should look into radical measures like hiring LC’s to visit, inspect, supervise and monitor all schools in their areas of jurisdiction,”
“They should be tasked to generate weekly reports on attendance of both the learners and teachers, monitor the implementation of the government education programs and supervise structural developments.
With this approach, government won't be spending any more money on inspection of schools.”
“While funding for the educator sector should be increased, not much will change much, unless we go beyond lip service; unless there is the political will. There has to be regular and strict supervision of head teachers and teachers. Those failing learning in our schools should be relieved of their duties,” Mwesigye says.
“The right environments should be created in schools for learners to enjoy the experience of being in school. The education ministry should introduce regular in service training for teachers, hire more teachers to offset the high learner to teacher rations in most rural schools, [current ratios are at 55:1], improve teacher remuneration, regulate the issue of school fees and also provide materials like text books,” Charles Wabwire; an educationist with Opportunity International, says.
Educationist Martin Owino says: “A critical eye ought to be cast over the UNEB grading system.
It has to be reformed, because if a distinction 1 is between 95-100 and distinction 2 is between 90-94, the odds are ten to one, that we shall continue having low PLE pass rates, especially in far off -disadvantaged areas, which already have to grapple with issues like poor teacher distribution and absenteeism,”
On continuous assessment, the Education Ministry and the National Curriculum Development Center should at this stage, be carrying out sensitisations and trainings on how it plans to operationalise continuous assessment in schools, since the new curriculum is yet to be rolled out,” Wanasolo, says.
The Ugandan Education and Sports Ministry’s take
Speaking at the launch of the World Bank Report, the First Lady and Education Minister, Mrs Janet Museveni, in a speech read by the State Minister for higher education, Dr. John Chrysostom Muyingo, said her Ministry had among other things developed a National teacher policy, which would be a stimulus for teachers to undertake professional development.
As a contingency plan to deal with the country’s growing population, who will need services, among which is education, Mrs Museveni said the Ministry will soon come up with an ICT in education policy, which will open opportunities for technology assisted learning and provide access to vast online education resources.
This measure she said would mitigate the constraint of inadequate classrooms and teachers.
Mrs Museveni also said her ministry is developing the education sector strategic plan for 2012-20125.
She said the World Bank report will inform the priorities for the plan.
Rosemary Sseninde, State Minister for Primary Education, says what Uganda needs now is a national assessment policy, with guiding policies for continuous assessment.
“The discourse on the World Bank proposals can begin, but what is important, for now, is a national assessment policy. There has to be collective responsibility towards improving the transition rates of learners from primary to lower secondary.
If the rates are improved, there are enough classrooms to accommodate learners,” Sseninde says.
Since 2016, the government, has according to the President’s State of the Nation address [6th June] constructed 48 new classrooms, bringing the total of government aided schools to 12, 696.
There are now ostensibly 1, 194 government aided secondary schools, while in the private sector, there are 8, 269.
Many Kampala urbanities who are indisposed to sitting through the city’s infamously long-early morning and late evening traffic jams, always rely on web-based motorcycle taxi service providers like Safe Boda to make it to their places of work, in time.
Safe Boda has been in high favour with many of the city’s residents, primarily because they have broken the mold with their service, choosing safety and caution, on the road, rather than recklessness.
Kampala’s roads are however still crawling with impatient motorcycle taxi riders, who, on a daily basis, recklessly navigate the city’s perilous roads without helmets.
According to the Uganda Police annual crime report 2018, motorcycles accounted for 60% of all vehicles involved in road crashes in 2018.
From 2014 to 2016, at least 7,000 people lost their lives in Boda Boda accidents in Uganda.
There are however, now safer and convenient alternatives in the form of Safe Boda, Taxify, Uber, etc.
Over the last four years, Safe Boda which principally transacts business, through its Smartphone App, has been transforming the commercial motorcycle transportation landscape in the rough and tumble metropolis of Kampala.
Since it took root, the Safe Boda Company has created job opportunities for several Ugandan youth.
They have made it priority to give their clients safety / crash helmets [the single most effective way of protecting against injuries or death whilst riding on a boda boda].
Kampala may not exactly be that quintessential smart city, but its residents do catch up quick with trends and notwithstanding, a few mishaps like limited IT skills and knowledge, a big number of the city’s residents have sure embraced the Safe Boda digital service and its gig workers, who wear identifiable orange color reflecting vests and helmets.
The upshot of Safe Boda’s radical approach has been disciplined riding by their riders and fewer road crashes on Kampala’s roads.
“In many respects, the risk of road traffic crashes involving Safe Boda riders is lower, compared to Kampala’s regular, kamikaze motorcyclists. That primarily is, on account of their respect for traffic rules. It is hard to find a Safe Boda rider running the traffic lights, like most regular Boda Boda riders in Kampala, do,” Isaac Tusubira of Easy Ride Accident Solutions, says.
Ricky Thomson Rapa, one of the co-founders of Safe Boda says at present, they have over 10,000 riders in Kampala alone.
“In Nairobi, there are over 1,500 riders and many more in Mombasa. The numbers are set to grow further, as long as we do not waver in adhering to our set objective, which is the provision of safety to clients,” Rapa says.
“Safe Boda’s biggest achievement has been the transformation of the Boda Boda industry in Kampala, which hitherto is known for its disorganised nature.
Our Boda Bodas are professionals. The orderly way in which they work is a far cry from Kampala’s regular Boda Boda riders. They are given first Aid, customer service, technology and financial literacy trainings,” Rapa adds.
“Before, we set forth with our operations, less than one percent of Boda Boda passengers in Kampala used to wear crash helmets. Now more than seventy percent of our clients, wear them. Prior, less than thirty percent of Boda Boda riders used to wear crash helmets; now over hundred percent wear crash helmets.”
One of the other standout achievements for Safe Boda has been the building of the first ever Boda Boda motorcycle training Academy, where all prospective boda boda riders are painstakingly trained in the observance of traffic rules, safe riding, etc.
For the future, the Safe Boda powers that be are looking at expanding to other cities such as Lagos, Daressalam and many other African cities, to boot.
“The future of digital technologies like Safe Boda is looking ever brighter. Africa’s young population is growing fast and many are moving to cities, which are increasingly getting congested and inundated by traffic grid locks. With that growth, comes a need for safe, fast and affordable means of transportation,” Rapa says.
A good and well organised road infrastructural system is a critical component for development in any city.
At the present time, cities-whose roads are a byword for pot holes, insufficient road signage, narrow lanes, long traffic gridlocks, unruly motorcyclists/taxi drivers and constricted walkways for pedestrians; face long odds in attracting serious investment projects and scoring high on any reputable road infrastructural indice.
Kampala, despite its recent development strides, still faces many challenges, meaning on a scale of one to ten, on any meaningful road infrastructural indice, the city would probably score 5 or lower.
With the passage of time, Kampala city’s numerous road infrastructural challenges have had a negative bearing on its image and competitive impetus, in the East African region.
In the last eight years of Kampala Capital City Authority however, the infrastructural development status quo in Kampala has, by and large, improved.
[Kampala Capital City Authority replaced Kampala City Council as the governing body of the Ugandan Capital]
By the time, Jennifer Musisi, the erstwhile-go-getting KCCA Executive Director tendered in her resignation, a myriad road infrastructure projects had being undertaken, to wit- the widening of the Jinja road stretch from Airtel House towards Nakawa.
By all accounts, a total of 210 kilometers of roads were constructed and upgraded to Bitumen; while a total of over 240km of road works were ongoing.
Kira-Bukoto roads, Yusuf Lule road stretch, amongst others are some of the roads that were upgraded and revamped to a turn, during Musisi’s tenure.
At present, there are over 500kms of gravel roads, under maintenance in the city, while 48 roads with a total length of 54.15Km are under construction and will apparently be completed by December 2019.
For good measure, Andrew Kitaka, the acting KCCA Executive Director, recently commissioned works to upgrade 26 km of roads, to wit, (Lukuli Rd, Kabuusu – Kitebi – Bunmwaya – Lweza rd, Nakawa - Ntinda a dual carriageway rd, John Babiiha (Acacia) Avenue a dual carriageway, Kulambiro Ring Rd).
The construction works will be undertaken by China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited and Stirling Sobetra Joint Venture.
KCCA has also been able to reconfigure and install responsive functional traffic signals at 21 junctions including Nakawa, Natete and Wandegeya, Fairway, Bwaise, Kira road ,Game Lugogo, Kati-Kati, Kololo Airstrip, Nakulabye & Naguru among others.
4,988 Streetlights have been installed in the City; of which 1,560 are solar street lights; promoting use of solar street lights.
Of recent too, roads such as Makerere Hill road, Kira Road, Mabule road, Bakuli –Kasubi have been reconstructed and transformed, under the auspices of the World Bank, into dual carriage ways.
The roads were all fitted with 13 new traffic signals to improve mobility.
If you have recently been to Makerere University, you may have seen the new roads, KCCA constructed around the campus. The roads are nine in total.
According to a recent Press statement from the office of the Executive Director, the Authority recently handed over KIIDP [Kampala Institutional and Infrastructural Development project] batch 2 roads, like Acacia/John Babiha Avenue (1.5km,6 junctions), Nakawa Ntinda Road (2.8 km, 5 junctions), Kulambiro Ring Road (4.8 km and one junction and Najeera Link (0.8km), Kabuusu – Bunamwaya – Lweza Road (8km, 2 junctions) and Lukuli Road (8km and I junction) to contractors and construction works are set to commence, next month.
Later on this year, October to be exact, KCCA expects to start improvement on (signalization) of 30 more junctions in Kampala using a grant from Government of Japan through JICA.
As part of its roads rehabilitation project, as well, KCCA intends to procure and introduce 100 eco friendly public transport buses at a cost of $33.25M to enhance urban mobility, while achieving co-benefits of climate change mitigation.
The plan is to introduce green bus depots and two green bus routes in the city.
The routes are already mapped out, according to Kampala City Roads Rehabilitation Project extracts from a presentation to stakeholders on the 18th of June.
To address flooding in the City, the Authority has just completed a drainage master plan, which will involve the construction of several drainage channels, with support from the World Bank.
The drainage channel systems to be constructed will be in Nakamiro and Lubigi.
The other drainage channels that will be constructed with support from World Bank include Nalukolongo Channel, Kansanga Channel and Kinawataka Channel.
In addition, over 169 kms of drainage will be maintained every year and over the last one year, KCCA has completed the reconstruction of 23 Km of community drains.