African business, politics and lifestyle
Ugandan president is hip-hop hit
The track starts with a soulful “well, well” as a hip-hop beat rises in intensity. “Do you want another rap?” the same deep voice then says in perfect time. “You want another rap?”
But this is no ordinary rapper. This is, believe it or not, 66-year-old Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, previously better known for rebellion than for rhyming.
The road to what has now become a radio and club hit started a few months back at a ruling party rally when the leader of almost 25 years took to the stage and, professing that some youngsters had told him about rap, performed two folk chants from his birthplace in Western Uganda – Naatema akati (I cut a stick) and Mp’enkoni (Give me the stick).
Apparently, he turned up at another rally a few weeks later and asked the mostly young crowd if they wanted another rap. They roared back, “Yes, Sevo!” using one of Museveni’s many nicknames. A canny Ugandan record producer then took the lot, chant and all, added a thumping beat and the song everyone is calling “You want another rap?” was born.
The tune is proving a bit of a sleeper hit on YouTube – already well on its way to 100,000 views – and Museveni’s party is hoping it can endear him to the country’s sizeable population of under-30s ahead of February elections.
Different versions are now doing the rounds and turning up for sale in record shops. According to the country’s Red Pepper tabloid, the below CD cover, depicting the president as American gangsta rapper 50 Cent, is proving especially popular.
So popular, in fact, that Museveni has earned a new nickname: M-7 Cent.
Reaction to “You want another rap?” has been mixed. The president’s ruling National Resistance Movement party has tried hard to capitalise on the record, saying it proves the aging leader is down with the kids and has some life in him yet.
Hundreds of NRM members are even using it as a ringtone.
Some Ugandans agree with the NRM assessment, some see it as a cynical ploy to curry favour with the country’s young electorate and some just find the whole thing plain funny.
The opposition Democratic Party’s assessment is blunt.
It says it may release its own track in reply. “Your rap is crap,” the title.
Just in case anybody’s curious, here, according to New Vision newspaper, is a translation of the Runyankole language verse:
The stick I cut strayed into Igara where Ntambiko reigns / Ntambiko gave me a knife which I gave to millet harvesters / who gave me millet that I gave to a hen / which gave me an egg that I gave to children / who gave me a monkey that I gave to the king / who gave me a cow that I used to marry my wife / She gave me a child I called Mugarura who raided back what belonged to me and my fathers.
So what do you think? Should 50 Cent be worried?