Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Wetaya Richard

Wetaya Richard

I have more than five years’ working experience in the Media industry.  
I wield a skillful pen as a Journalist, and I'm presently a Freelance features writer at the "Features Desk" of the “New Vision”- Uganda’s premier Newspaper.

Before I joined the New Vision, I had worked as a Broadcast Journalist with Signal FM radio in Mbale, Eastern Uganda. 
My weekly Hip Hop four hour show packed a punch and was very popular with the youth in Eastern Uganda.

Other interests

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

Traveling

Phone Contact-+256756096335, Email--jayrichards3@gmail.com

From a Ugandan perspective, Hip Hop music continues to be wrongly typecast as party-oriented music, with little to no substance, yet as a genre; Hip Hop has put out many mould-breaking songs that speak, for instance, to its protracted fight against HIV and AIDS.

What is unfortunate; however is that the audios and videos of some of those conscious Hip Hop songs like New Hope Squad’s-“It’s never too late”, SP Omugujule’s-“Lwavawa” and GNL’s “Story Ya Lukka” never got any significant traction in the media.

"Story La Lukka" may, however, be an exception, here as it was warmly received.


“Blame that on the cold shoulder treatment, Ugandan Hip Hop music has always gotten. If skeptics care to listen, however to any of the above songs; which all essentially raise awareness on HIV/AIDS, they will realize conscious Hip Hop promotes values to its listeners,” Nelson Dramuke, a filmmaker and creative visual director, says.

“There is a philosophical side to Hip Hop which speaks to serious issues like HIV and in line with this year’s World Aids day theme-which is Communities making a difference, it would be good to shine light on some of the Hip Hop community’s musical contributions to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda,” Silas Balabyekkubo, also known as Babaluku, a Ugandan Hip Hop icon, says.

Babaluku


The lyrics to “It’s never too late”, “Story Ya Luka” and Lwavawa among other songs, paint grim pictures about the consequences of irresponsible behaviour. The songs also encourage the youth to embrace safe sex practices.

From the years of old, conscious Lugaflow artists such as Babaluku, GNL, the late Mulekwa, B.B Muwanvu Muwanvu, Cosine and upcountry conscious Hip Hop artists such as Lumix, Jungle, Supaman, endeavoured to have wide representations of HIV/AIDS in their song lyrics.

The 2010 poignant song “Story Ya Luka” by Ugandan Hip Hop legend-GNL Zamba was a powerful gem in that regard.

The song, which showcased GNL’s unrivaled storytelling skill-set is a call to action for all Ugandans to fight HIV, to avoid stigma and to treat people living with HIV-humanely.

Essentially, the song tells the story of Luka-a young high roller/ bar hopper, who in his moments of indiscretion contracts HIV.

The song was later selected by Uganda’s Health Ministry to headline a 2010 AIDS youth education campaign in which GNL himself played a leading role.

“In those campaigns, we spread messages about the need for Ugandan youth to practice safe sex and to fight the widespread stigma which existed then against people living with HIV. Some of them had gotten the disease, through unfortunate circumstances,” Zamba says.
GNL performing with the Starson band at a show in West Hollywood

“Our campaign was a double-edged sword in the sense that we used music and word of mouth campaigns. At that time, Hip Hop spoke and it showed its strength in the way it impacted the youth.”

Dramuke says “Story Ya Luka” resonated with him on account of its fascinating storytelling narrative.

“Not many Lugaflow artists were dab hands at telling stories like GNL at that time. The first time I heard that song, the message just stuck.”

In subsequent years, GNL recorded more potent songs that speak to Hip Hop’s role in the fight against HIV like the 2014 thought-provoking song-“We Cry”. The song features GNL’s wife-Miriam Tamar.


In the song’s first verse, GNL tells a sad chronicle about a young vulnerable girl who is trapped in a guest house with a man who has been her benefactor for years. The man, who is HIV positive, later compels her into unprotected sex. After a few years, she passes on, much to the chagrin of her parents.

In the same year, the Twaweza Initiative awarded GNL for the song’s strong positive impact.

“Given that adolescent and young adults account for the majority of undiagnosed HIV positive cases; it is important to use a culturally relevant method to halt the spread of the HIV pandemic and Hip Hop fits that bill-because it appeals to many young people in Uganda,” Arnold Muduni, a Hip Hop producer at KYA studios in Kirinya, Bweyogerere, says.

“First, however the negative typecasts about hip hop have to be shed. Bubble gum and potboiler songs pushed by the likes of Fik Fameica, Mun G, Recho Ray and others will have to be put on the back burner because they give wrong impressions of the genre. ”

In the classic Lugaflow song-“It’s never too late” Mon M.C of the New Hope Squad-waxes poetic- rhyming about how HIV has taken the lives of venerable Ugandans like Philly Lutaaya and how it continues to shatter the dreams of many Ugandan families.


“That song, with its beautifully sung chorus-was way ahead of its time. Mon M.C was talking about things that are still happening today-youth recklessness and vulnerability.
He caps it all off with a reminder to the youth to stay safe through the usage of condoms and most importantly to stick to one partner,” Lady Slyke, a rapper and songwriter, says.

“Ugandan Hip Hop has several positive songs that have the educational values needed to stem and reduce the high prevalence of HIV. It should be credited for helping to reduce the prevalence of HIV among young people in the early and mid-2000s in the country,” Saint Ambrose, an I.T professional, and Hip Hop fan says.

In the song, Lwavawa-Lugaflow artist-SP Omugujule and Qreas from Western Uganda trade verses with each emphatically questioning through rhymes where the HIV monster wiping out families in Africa had emanated from.
SPqreas


In his first verse-SP Omugujule narrates how his brother by the names of Peter, died of HIV as a result of copulating with an infected girl after a night of fun.

Both Omugujule and Qreas cap up their last verses with calls to action for more young people to get tested, to get sensitized and to steer clear of reckless behavior.

The song “True manhood” by GNL, the late Lumix, T-Bro and singer Aziz Azion prevails upon the youth to always use protection.

As a testament to the song’s subsequent impact, it won the People's Choice Digital Media Award at the 2011 International Entertainment Education Conference.

Another Hip Hop song which highlights Hip Hop contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS is the BB Muwavu Wavu and Hope Beni’s- “Wegendereze”
Muwavu Wavu raps in Luganda, while Beni raps in Acholi.

“Muwavu Wavu tells the story of orphaned children living in destitution and with no hope for the future because their parents died of HIV, while Beni laments the devastation, HIV has caused on the long-suffering communities in Northern Uganda,” Muduni says.

The song-“So far away” by Jungle, Supaman and Cosine, also paints through engaging rhymes, grim pictures of HIV’s devastating aftermath in the Busoga, Buganda, and Bugisu sub-regions.

Jungle
  

In Uganda, as many as 575 adolescents and young women between the ages of 15 and 24 get infected with HIV every week, according to recent reports from the country's Health Ministry.


Hip Hop appeals to many young people across the globe and is currently the most dominant element of global youth culture. Young people understand the language of Hip Hop.

“If its power is harnessed well, not only through its poetic art form, which is Hip Hop music but also through spreading information on HIV and embarking on sensitization campaigns at youth-oriented events, the prevalence of HIV among the youth will subside,” Ambrose says.

In this Podcast, I make a case against categorizing the popular Ugandan song-"Parte after Parte" by Big Trill as Hip Hop.

Have a listen, below;

Ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1, Wetaya  Richard discusses the contribution of the #Ugandan Hip Hop community to the #HIV andAIDS fight.

How do we develop effective prototype devices that can in the future help our local communities harness and convert solar radiation to heat energy for cooking? How can we best make use of organic pesticides in agriculture and move a model car using solar energy?

These among others were some of the questions young science students from schools in Uganda's West Nile region, where Prof Tickodri Togboa, the Coordinator of the team that assembled the electric car [Kiira EV] comes from were trying to answer, recently at the first-ever competitive school science fair, to be held in their region at Mvara S.S in Arua.

The Education and Sports Ministry organized fair was held under the theme "Innovation for solving everyday problems and improving community livelihoods" and attracted over 30 schools from the region. Over 50 blueprint science projects were exhibited.

Students from St Marys Ediofe Girls S.S explaining to adjudicators how a solar Heater they built works

One of the participating students shows adjudicators how her prototype innovation works

Muni Girls Secondary School-Arua emerged the overall winners of the fair on account of their impressive physics project design detailing how communities can use power, force and kinetic energy in the functioning of an irrigation pump.

“When fully developed this prototype can be used in the irrigation of crops during the dry season; to ensure a continual supply of food in arid regions,” Hafusa Akiya, a senior five student at the school and a co-developer of the prototype, said.

Akiya’s colleague, Fadia Queen, a senior three student, said the prototype which was mostly made from metal and consists of a reservoir tank, propeller, propelling sheet and motor took five months to build.

Derrick Atiki of Mvara S.S also gave a good account of himself, as he unpacked his environmentally friendly- prototype water pump appliance, which harnesses solar energy to pump water.

“This water pump does not pollute the environment and its batteries can be charged by the use of wind energy in times of rain. When it is developed, it can be used in schools, in agricultural fields, and hospitals,” Atiki explained.

WhatsApp Image 2019 11 27 at 18.42.41


Acia Marino, the Arua District Education Officer welcomed the idea of holding a science fair in West Nile noting that it will motivate the region's young learners to take up Science Technology, Engineering and Maths education.

Acia Marino Arua District Education Officer

"The region is low on science teachers and interest in sciences has generally been low but, I see a change in the tide on account of the high attendance and the competitive STEM applications, displayed. This fair will hopefully help the region's young learners to realize the interdependence of science, technology, and society," Marino said.

Alice Akello, the deputy RDC-Arua encouraged young learners in the West Nile region to embrace hands on-inquiry based STEM education so that they create and develop innovations to improve the livelihoods of people in their region.

Alice Akello deputy RDC Arua


“Science has also enabled Uganda to develop its own car-the KIIRA EV car. This fair has allowed our learners to showcase their innovativeness. Fairs like enable our young learners to develop their scientific thinking and can be one of the ways, in which, the government through the Education Ministry can address a falling interest in sciences in some areas of the country” Akello said.


“It is gratifying to see students in West Nile developing blueprint technologies like surface runoff water harvesting and purification systems which can help provide clean water to people across the country.
Innovation encourages risk-taking and problem-solving skills, which are important for not only individual but collective development,” Ronald Mudde, Biology National Trainer at the Education and Sports Ministry said.

IMG 6155


George Andama, the Mvara S.S headteacher said there is a need to increase the relevance of science in communities like those of West Nile.

“Most of these communities are underserved by science instruction, poor teacher distribution, and resources. The Education Ministry should make this fair annual as the new curriculum to be rolled out next emphasizes skills development. Our learners have shown a great level of innovativeness in that regard in this fair,” Andama opined.

Patrick Angalia, the Nebbi District Education Officer said annual fairs would solidify on the knowledge economy of the West Nile region.

“When these young people’s innovation projects are supported, they can contribute to positive social and personal outcomes. It is also our hope that our students will get a chance to showcase and compete with other science students at the national science fair,” Angalia said.

In a speech read for him by Mary Nteete, the Principal Education Officer at the Education and Sports Ministry, Alex Kakooza, the Education and Sports’ Ministry’s Permanent Secretary said as a means of promoting quality and equitable education, the government was placing a premium on the promotion of STEM education.

Mary Nteete the Principal Education Officer at the Education and Sports Ministry making a speech at the event


“The education sector has invested a lot of resources in the construction of laboratories, development of instructional materials and re-tooling of teachers. Our efforts have started yielding results for learners, their communities and the country at large. This fair is a testament to the results we are gaining.”


In Uganda, the national average quality of Science and Maths education is still low and in recent times, learner’s achievement [principally girls] in Maths and Sciences have been chequered and on occasion, unsatisfactory.

“There is a need for innovative strategies to boost the girl child’s interest in science subjects and the government has been making significant inroads with its programmes aimed at closing that gender gap in science education,” Kakooza said.

Kakooza revealed that the government was working on a science and ICT policy for education, which would further support the sector in providing clear guidance on STEM education in the country.

“The policies will guide many players who are coming up with innovative strategies of teaching STEM such as e-learning, video conferencing, virtual reality, among others.”

“STEM fields are crucial for sustainable development as they are not only drivers of economic growth but are also enablers of innovations which can address threats posed by global challenges such as climate change, global health epidemics, and increased income inequality.”

The winners according to each category at the fair

In the Mathematics category, Isaiah Ameri and Vincent Edema of Arua Public school impressed with their design of using geometry in trigonometry to measure heights.

In the Biology category, Edith Odaro and Patrick Ajiga from Arua Public school emerged winners with their organic pesticide project.

In the Physics department, the solar heater appliance designed by Sumaya Akunda and Gracious Ayiorwoth of St Mary’s Ediofe Girls S.S-Arua took home the best prize.

Gracious Ayiorwoth and Sumaya Akunda of St Marys Ediofe Girls S.S Arua were the best in the Physics category with their solar heater project 2

WhatsApp Image 2019 11 27 at 18.43.41
The appliance which is used for heating water for domestic use in homes, schools or hospitals, took them 4 months to build.

Brenda Amadrio and Justine Anyuvi of Moyo S.S were crowned the best in the Chemistry category with their natural mosquito repellent extraction blueprint.

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