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Arts4Harts: Youths embracing Christianity through arts

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Moses Nakintije Ssekibogo aka Mowzey Radio was this week reported to have been in a coma for a couple of days after being involved in a scuffle with patrons at De Bar, a local night club in Entebbe.

Although details as to what caused the fight are still unclear, what is clear is that the musician faces an uncertain future as doctors work around the clock to save his life at Case Hospital where he is currently in the ICU, fighting for his life.

Despite the artiste’s profound success and notable achievements, Mowzey Radio’s confrontational nature is as equally responsible for his fame as his talent and recent footage of his drunken skirmish with a traffic police officer made rounds on social media, raising concerns amongst many of his fans and well-wishers who implored him to sober up.

However, the tendency to be reckless and destructive is not purview to just this artiste as household names such as Jose Chameleone, Bebe Cool and  Eddy Kenzo all continue to harangue us with their own weaknesses for the dramatic enterprise.

Indeed, Uganda’s entertainment industry is never short of drama as the artistes constantly bid to outdo each other in recycled, frivolous and petty media wars which occasionally turn physical.

Social media recently witnessed a strong verbal outcry from spited artistes such as Kenzo, Radio and Weasel after a one Moses Ssali aka Bebe Cool released a list of names he deemed the most influential within Uganda’s music industry according to rank. This led to a bitter exchange of words between Bebe Cool and some artistes who dubbed the ‘Kasepiki’ star as childish and arrogant. They even challenged him to present his studio as proof of his dedication and passion for his music as an artist.

Anyhow, with many of these musicians claiming to be Uganda’s greatest export since Philly Bongole-Lutaaya, lines are bound to be crossed and offenses taken, bringing most local artistes such as Jose Chameleon and Bebe Cool to loggerheads in one of the most enduring entertainment feuds to determine ‘who might actually be the most prominent/influential in shaping and promoting Uganda’s Music and entertainment Industry.’

That said, as the Industry grows, so does the controversy that surrounds it as in the past, Ugandans have suffered a number of bizarre, vulgar and grotesque misdemeanors at the mercy of some of their favorite artistes as musicians, particularly the female ones such as Desire Luzinda and Sheebah Karungi.

These two among others, continue to release inappropriate visuals such as nudes, which in turn promote various forms of socially unacceptable issues like promiscuity and use of recreational drugs, especially amongst the youths.

Despite efforts by the government and concerned parties to prohibit the promotion of such lewd and inappropriate behavior by putting in place certain measures, particularly the Anti-pornography Act, the entertainment industry is still riddled with dark and underlying proponents that not only affect the masses but even worse, destroy and claim the lives of so many artistes.

This begs the question: “Is there still hope for the entertainment industry in Uganda? And what does this mean for young artistes in Uganda?”

The group members pose for a photo

So, as the government grapples with the quagmire that is Uganda’s entertainment industry, a select number of youths have decided to take matters into their own hands by offering Ugandans an alternative source of entertainment.

In that respect Eagleonline caught up with the artistes of the Arts4harts initiative to better understand their unique approach to this industry. Derrick Muhanguzi(Co-founder & Lead Act), Pius Andru’da, Migisha Boyd, Roland Aruho and Bijojji Elijah, all representative of the different specialties they brought to the table, explain in an interview reproduced below.


EagleOnline: What is Arts4Harts and what do you guys do?

Derrick: Arts4Harts is an organization or faculty that has been running for a year now and hopes to embody music and art by providing a platform that brings about the creativity of the arts as it was intended to be.

EagleOnline: And how is art originally intended to be?

Derrick: God is the creator of all things on earth and therefore all that we do must in most ways mirror his image. Therefore, arts and music must be a depiction of his goodness as well. By mirroring God through our work we are able to also affect the culture around us.

Boyd: We are giving the world what they are generally not accustomed to but it is good to be different/unique: it is how you standout.

EagleOnline: So how did you guys come up with the Arts4Harts idea?

Derrick: It happened randomly actually, I was having a chat with Boyd about all the negativity that has infiltrated most of the mainstream media, be it the art/pictures or even the music and how people have failed to perceive it and the danger it poses. Infact, the first time I met Boyd he was a bit dejected and he told me “I have one last card to play, if I fail-I am off to Miami to start strip-dancing.” I guess the fact that he is here means that it went through.

EagleOnline: Why would you even consider strip-dancing yet you are already talented as an artist?

Boyd: As an artist, to find a place readily accepting of your own unique style and brand is very hard. Especially with us artists since people rarely value your work and expect you to even do things for free. So you find that it is twice as hard for an artist to make it in society, more so here in Uganda.

EagleOnline: Why Art?

Boyd: Because Art puts us in a position in which we can understand life; life is art itself, it exists in every form and aspect of life: from food being cooked to the way someone decided to dress or behave. So, if the art is corrupted or dirty, then the surroundings to will be dirty, for example you can take life as a prism, if it is dirty the light it will project will also be dull. That is why we have charged ourselves with the task of cleaning this prism because for us God is art.

Ronald: We have talent that pushes people to think deeply about their lives and its decisions, it is sort of reflective. People tend to overlook the extents to which art can go but the brain is usually accessed through intellect and art is always able to touch someone emotionally even if it is a song or just a fine drawing, it can speak volumes to someone! I believe that Art, if used properly, has the ability to shake culture more than logical reasoning.

Pius: Art is able to have a long-term effect on people compared to other forms. Achilles is remembered through his art even after he died a long time ago. Even culture is learnt through art and if you consider the Egyptians and their hieroglyphics, art can be used to create, teach and preserve culture.

EagleOnline: What are some of the challenges you guys have faced embarking on this journey?

Derrick: I think the biggest and most obvious battle we face comes from within; tapping into our full potentials has become quite hard due to skepticism amongst us given the Ugandan market and how they will receive us. We tend to doubt ourselves based on past experiences and often have to remind ourselves of: who we are, where we are going and what we are doing. However, I have learnt that if you look at something spiritually and tackle it in the same manner, it will eventually come together. We believe we are a new living, fresh and talented group working in an already dead industry.

Ronald: Yes, we occasionally fight and disagree amongst each other but we are more than sure that we can accomplish all through God. Christian art is not generally a big thing in entertainment but while most people choose to look to other sources for power like calling witchdoctors before a big concert, we as Christians need to properly organize ourselves because despite us being the lowest ranking in this industry, we have the most power, look at the recent Power FM celebrations that hosted almost 30,000 attendees to celebrate Christian music. We have the ideas, we have to just study them, we are a body and we need to fully understand the different functions each one of us plays. For example the eyes are different from the mouth but if I lose an eye the whole body will be affected in terms of sight and judgment; we need to learn how to really work together.

EagleOnline: Derrick, recently you realesed a video where you talked about the lack of authenticity in today’s media, more specifically, the music industry! Can you elaborate abit more on that!

Derrick: When I first started out in the music industry I was met with a lot of resistance, and today I’m still facing resistance! Why? Because I’m bringing something different to the table: I am actually being creative when I speak and you will realize that a lot of people today cannot handle that!

People are so used and comfortable with mediocre state of the industry: artist don’t create content but simply copy from other artists! So when you bring something new to the table they begin to worry and fear that you have come to change things.

When we decide to do something we don’t just do it and say it is ‘just a song’ or ‘just a poem or play’, we want to carry meaning and touch someone. Another thing you need to know is that times are changing and therefore people are also looking for something different. The other day Makerere released 13,000 graduands, where is the government going to put all those people, where shall the jobs come from? It is why we also decided to come up with Arts4Harts, we want to give people an opportunity to discover themselves and God’s purposes for their life. We cannot just sit down and let the kids suffer, we must take matter into our own hands and use what God has given us.

Pius: One thing we don’t want is for the market to influence us but make decisions based on how God leads us; we want the market to understand us and consume us as we are. One thing I appreciate about President Donald Trump is that, because of his decisions and remarks artists are now producing music with a conscience like the recent Eminem album, and that is how I believe it should be: you shouldn’t buy your goods because they look good but because it adds value to you. In Uganda only Christians don’t have standards; you listen to a poem and wonder if the artist can read or write, and that is why we want to raise a standard for everything we do here at Arts4harts.

EagleOnline: Thank you so much for your time guys! Last question is: What are your future plans for Arts4Harts? Where do you see yourselves in a few years’ time?

Derrick: Our work is primarily targeted at the Ugandan youths since it is easier to teach the younger generation than it is the older ones. Their views are far different from ours in some aspects especially in terms of the arts, in that it is hard for them to unlearn what they know to be true and accept these new forms and concepts of our generation (laughs).

Boyd: We are also actually planning for an event for early March; we want to officially launch this initiative and get more people involved by putting the word out there, by taking the creativity back to the people, back to schools and promoting talent in these places so people can own it.

Elijah: We hope to take it worldwide eventually but we want to start by also tapping into the talent outside of Kampala, going to the villages and giving these kids an opportunity to express themselves and cultivate their talents. We are also looking to put up a website and connecting with the world out there as much as possible.



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