Ugandans Are Cowards — Bebe Cool

Musician and Gagamel crew boss Moses Ssali aka Bebe Cool has been controversial due to his unlimited support to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

The writer (R) with Bebe Cool(C) and his aide Obed
The writer (R) with Bebe Cool(C) and his aide Obed

Throughout the election period the singer has been with the President on his campaign trail.

This has earned him a lot of criticism from furious fans.

It has created him friends and enemies in different circles in equal measure.

He was viewed as heavy-handed because of the way he dealt with noncompliance of affiliates.

But in his true style, Bebe has been adamantly asserting that supporting president Museveni such was a necessary evil.

Haruna Naire this week sat Bebe Cool down, to chat about his involvement in ‘Tubonga Nawe’ project and his working relationship with President Museveni.

But does he feel intimidated as far as his music career is to be considered? Read on to find out as he opens up;

Haruna: Thank you for agreeing to this interview.

Bebe: I have no reason to turn down such an opportunity. Why would I really be afraid of the media.

I’m not afraid of giving interviews because I’m not new in this showbiz business. I appreciate the role of the media as a watchdog.

Haruna: You have been at the helm of campaign trail with President Museveni; how would you describe the journey?

Bebe: It has been a journey full of challenges and successes. Importantly, it has been a period of learning and acquisition of immense knowledge and experience.

Haruna: As a musician, there is a general outcry regarding the implementation of the copyright law, why do support a government that doesn’t do much to empower artistes?

Bebe:  I’m one of the musicians who worked a lot in reviving the Ugandan music industry.

In the 80s it was being ruled by Congolese, South Africans and other outsiders.

I tried my very best to make sure that the President and Ugandans get to know the power of our own music.

I have worked for the image of the Ugandan music industry to be recognized and appreciated like other sectors.

Afterwards I lobbied to work along with the government.

When I look back, I am satisfied that the Music industry is in many aspects considered as a big industry.

It employs more people and has become a career for many young people. Previously the music industry has not been in working relationship with the government, so it could not understand its power and what it can give back to government.

Therefore after the government discovered the power of music industry, many musicians are now invited to government functions and are paid handsomely.

So I believe soon the government will officially work on our issues and even implement the copyright law so that artistes can benefit more and then pay taxes to it.

The world is about something for something. The good thing we have opened the way, it’s upon artistes to inform government how they are supposed to be helped.

Haruna:  Your father Mzee Jaberi Bidandi Ssali fell out with president Museveni over term limits, aren’t you making a mistake to support a man whose comrades have deserted him?

Bebe:  Principally my dad believes in democracy.

I made my decision to support president Museveni because of his ideologies.

Dynamics of our country keep changing.

The issue is not about longevity of the president in power but how to tackle the problems of our country.

So that’s why I disregard those talking about longevity and I put the focus on the issues of our country.

I decided to support president Museveni because I realized he has a better approach of tackling Uganda’s problems on the ground.

Not the way opposition candidates fictionally think of solving them but the way the problems can really be solved.

Actually Uganda has so many problems but there is need to prioritize because not any president can solve them simultaneously.

Haruna:  Bebe tell us at least two sectors that you can categorically mention in which the NRM government has done a commendable job?

Bebe: The way president Museveni found this country, it can be shaming not to see his achievements in the 30 years he has been president.

Security is very crucial since it is the backbone of the country which he restored.

He has worked on numerous infrastructural developments like roads, schools, hospitals and agriculture has been improved depending on the budget allocation.

The level of development he has achieved for this country is visible. Although we need more development, where we are is better compared to the previous situation in Uganda.

As an artiste I have been moving around this country and I have been a witness to development.

Every part of the country has had its own problems that have been changing in terms of development.

The president knows how to handle all the country problems and prioritize them because there are those who want clean water, while others want electricity, yet others regard having no hospitals as their main problem.

Haruna: Are you supporting president Museveni because you were scheming for money?

Bebe: I have been supporting the President since my teenage years. We were many artistes who came out to support President but I was the main force in this as the others chickened out.

I came out to support President Museveni as I have always done. None of other candidates (presidential) would really convince me that they can lead this country.

Museveni has a way of handling issues but it’s only those who he chose to work with that fail to implement all his programmes, which later creates hatred for him from ordinary Ugandans who don’t get service delivery.

In my little understanding I feel I have to support him for the next five years so that he can finish what he put in his manifesto.

Haruna: You recently suffered a backlash on social media platform which shows most of your fans voted other candidates, aren’t you worried that you are set for a downfall since most of them are vowing to shun your concert?

Bebe: Ugandans are cowards, but fear strong hearted and brave people like me.

Why would they shun my concerts? I can assure you Serena will fill up come 5th August when I will hold my concert dubbed ‘The life of Bebe Cool’.

It is simple; out of the 5.2 million Ugandans who voted for president Museveni, I can’t fail to get 1500 people to fill Serena Victoria hall.

So you want to tell me that Mega Dee who used to have all his album launches flop was performing at political rallies?

Haruna: Is it time now to go international since you are no longer interested in local fans? Is that why you have not been caring about the repercussions while firing back at fans on different platforms?

Bebe: That’s not true, I still love my local Ugandan fans and I want them more.

However, those who attack me with bad language, I have to retaliate with the same fire.

By the away even Jesus had people who didn’t believe in him. I will always argue with those who confront me until maybe they will get onto the same page with me.

But anyway international is vital because it comes with heavy dollar, so I’m still focusing on it.

I’m still working hard to promote our music internationally and representing our country.

But anyway what I want to urge Ugandans is that we should not get divided over polls, teams we support or a candidate whom one supports.

They should learn to be tolerant because we are in democracy. As an artiste, I’m ready to release for them good music, so they should stop the hatred.

Haruna: A section of the general public is planning to boycott your shows to teach you a lesson for betraying them, how are you going to win them back and deal with the situation?

Bebe: Yes I believe there are some of my fans who were angered by my choice of candidate and some withdrew their support from my camp.

However I do believe there are also those who have joined me because of being president Museveni’s supporter.

Even though I have lost fans and have not replaced them, many of my family members , friends or other Ugandans will benefit in future for the choice of support I made.

The brick I have put on the Ugandan music industry will be appreciated in future and I will one day be remembered for projecting the image of Ugandan music to the government.

In this day and age a musician can seal a multimillion deal with either private investor or the government. Those are some of the benefits we have brought in the music industry.

Haruna: Did you realize somehow that you are fading off the music scene and you decided to start laying political foundation to join politics like some of your colleagues in industry who have joined the bandwagon?

Bebe: That’s a lie which should not be peddled to Ugandans. I’m not quitting music.

Actually I’m in the morning of my music career. I cannot quit music for politics.

It’s too cheap for me. I make Shs8m in just 15 minutes on stage and you take me into politics to earn Shs8m per a month? Look here, in a few months big international media houses like BBC, CNN and Aljazeera have been after me for interviews.

That is an indication that my career is beginning to flourish at the international level.

Participating in the campaign trail was just like any good citizen trying to exercise my right as a Ugandan using my platform as a musician.

Haruna: Reports had it that you were planning a house warming party for your Nkola Byafayo mansion on Valentine, what happened?

Bebe: I’m still building my house slowly and that was just a rumour spread around by lazy minds.

However, the money I have been performing for during the campaigns will enable me complete it and then the talk about my house will also end.

Haruna: As a Museveni supporter and a musician, do you feel betrayed by the KCCA Executive Director’s policies against music events in Kampala, given the fact that Museveni is the one who appointed her?

Bebe: Jennifer Musisi affected all of us in the music industry including disco owners, bar owners, boda-boda riders, event promoters, traders and the informal sector at large.

In my opinion she mishandled the implementation of her programmes in Kampala which affected everyone badly. Now how can you chase street vendors without first building them markets?

And then why levy huge fees on the available market which they can’t afford, depending on their operating capital?

On our side as artistes the KCCA director messed our industry. Artistes are known to hold night events, which are attended by people who first leave work and go home to prepare for them.

So they return for our concerts between 9pm and 10pm, yet KCCA set the closing time at midnight.

Due to heavy taxes how would you expect one to pay 50k or 30k to attend a concert which will only last two hours?

Jennifer really affected many Kampalans.

She didn’t consider negotiations or listen to people. How can you destroy the informal sector in Kampala which is supposed to pay the taxes you will use to develop the city?

I think she only focused on how to implement her proposals that were given to her by lawyers and planners without thinking about the people.

Things that were messed up 30 years in Kampala can’t be corrected in just three years.

At least 10 years would be ample time to embrace changes in Kampala.