KAMPALA (Reuters) – A Ugandan musician and political challenger to the country’s aging leader released a song here on Wednesday to help efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus in the east African nation.
In the song, 38 year-old Robert Kyagulanyi, who also goes by his stage name Bobi Wine, and fellow artist Nubian Li, croon to a tune laced with East Africa’s signature rhumba melodies about the importance of personal hygiene.
They also exhort people to regularly wash hands, keep a distance and look out for symptoms like fever and cough.
Uganda on Wednesday confirmed five more cases of COVID-19, bringing its tally to 14, four days after it recorded its first patient.
“The bad news is that everyone is a potential victim,” Kyagulanyi says in the lyrics.
“But the good news is that everyone is a potential solution.”
President Yoweri Museveni’s government has already taken a raft of measure including sealing off borders, closing bars, and banning public gatherings to contain the outbreak.
Music has previously been instrumental in tackling other outbreaks in Uganda.
Songs about HIV/AIDS by another Ugandan crooner Philly Bongoley Lutaaya, who would later die of the disease, helped spread awareness in the 1980s and 90s and bring down sky-high infection rates.
Kyagulanyi, long dubbed the “Ghetto President” for his star power and songs highlighting urban poverty, has been a headache to the ruling party since joining politics in 2017.
After declaring he wants to stand for president, he quickly emerged as a formidable opponent of Museveni, who has ruled since 1986 and is widely expected to stand for re-election.
Joel Ssenyonyi, Kyagulanyi’s spokesman, told Reuters the singer had distributed press releases on COVID-19 and handed out jerry cans and soap to drive up hand washing in communities.
“One other creative way of communicating is through music,” Ssenyonyi said. “Most people love to listen to music so what better way to put across a message than through music.”
In Senegal, activist hip-hop group Y’en a Marre have recorded a rap about washing hands, disposing of used tissues and avoiding crowds in their latest release: ‘Shield against Coronavirus.’
Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; editing by Omar Mohammed and Alexandra Hudson