Two songs banned for ‘defamation’
|Two songs by musician Mathias Walukagga – a prominent ‘kadongo kamu’ artist in Uganda’s capital Kampala – was banned from being played or distributed as from 3 November 2009 on the pretext that they were meant to demean and belittle a prominent business man in Kampala, Ssalongo Kasawuli, who is the owner of Samona Cosmetic Products. According to this report from Freemuse’s correspondent, the root of the dispute is a personal rivalry between the two men which literally turned into a ‘song war’||
By Lingson Adam, Freemuse’s correspondent
In addition to the ban, Mathias Walukagga was sued, and as a result was remanded at Luzira prison, Kampala, in November 2009.
Sued for defamation and attempted blackmailing
The plaintiff Ssalongo Kasawuli claimed that Mathias Walukagga attempted to blackmail him by demanding 60 million Ugandan shillings as compensation for holding back his new song ‘Bwino W’omutembeeyi’ which is alleged to be damaging to Kasawuli’s business.
Further prosecution pointed out that ‘Bwino W’omutembei’ and its forerunning song ‘Tuleppuke’ carry messages which were aimed at defaming Kasawuli and his Samona petroleum body lotion products. The plaintiff argues that the messages were damaging to him personally and his Samona Company and products thereof.
According to a report for the Ugandan newspaper New Vision by Eddie Ssejjoba, there was drama as onlookers jammed the court, while others remained outside cheering Walukagga, who responded with thumbs-up signal as he was escorted to the bus which took him to Luzira Prison.
Walukagga was, however, bailed out three days later following his lawyers filing in application for release. The music companies Abtex Productions and X-Zone International in return threatened to sue Kasawuli, arguing that they bought the right to market the songs from Walukagga and had invested millions in the project.
Behind the scene
The dispute between the two ‘stars’ is said to have stemmed from a woman they both are keen on. Walukagga allegedly had an affair with this woman but they both called it quits after some time. Stories further hold that eventually the complainant, Kasawuli, took over the lady ‘name withheld’ after winning her heart.
It is said that Walukagga (now former lover of the lady) silently complained that he was being threatened by Samona (successor) who thought that the artist was still having an affair with the said woman. This situation is what is portrayed in Walukagga’s song ‘Tuleppuke’.
The story behind the lyrics of Tuleppuke is about the conflict between a rich and a poor man where the underlying source of conflict is a woman whom the poor man had a relationship with but they had their own issues which led them to peacefully separate. The rich man later begins to have a relationship with this woman, but again he holds grudges with the poor man because he thinks that the poor man might still be having affair with her. He even threatens to kill him through telephone calls and other means.
The poor man tries to explain that his relationship with the woman ended long ago, but the rich man insists and continues with his threats.
The poor man asserts that irrespective of money, all of them are human beings, being rich doesn’t make anyone super-human. The poor disregards all the death threats claiming that after all, death is human’s destiny; katuleppuke — so let’s deal with each other perpendicularly and see how far we can go.
He thus remains firm and promises that then it was only a beginning of a long battle, probably against a class he does not belong to.
The story behind the lyrics in ‘Tuleppuke’ concludes by offering a piece of free and voluntary advice to the omutembeyi — the ‘hawker’, the rich business man — to stick to the selling of the merchandise instead of biffing up for a woman.
Song to hit back: ‘Majegere’
It was alleged that Kasawuli hired and paid for some artists to compose some songs to hit back at Walukagga. One of the musicians, allegedly hired by Kassawuli, was the artist Fred Nkambwe who recorded with Pentagon Videos the song ‘Majegere’ which is perceived to refer to the Kasawuli and Walukagga row.
The story behind the lyrics of ‘Majegere’ portrays the rich business man as a big caterpillar or bulldozer, and puts forward a clear warning that the irresponsible musician can never manage the ‘bulldozer’. The video shows a beautiful woman who has been deserted in misery by her lover, a musician, and then she meets this rich man who takes pity and falls in love with her. Eventually he takes very good care of her, which irritates the former lover who in turn plans to stage a fight, but then receives a stern warning to retreat or else ‘it will break his knees’.
It was reported that as part of his ‘strategic hit back’ to his foe, Kasawuli influenced different radio stations where he is a main advertiser, to blacklist Walukagga’s ‘Tuleppuke’ from air play. It was also reported that Walukagga was banned from performing at specific events and concerts sponsored by Kasawuli’s Samona company.
The song’s lyrics takes further the story in ‘Tuleppuke’. This time the poor hits the rich man by referring to his business products ‘jellies’ as of very poor quality. He narrates that all the lotions do is to darken people’s skin and that they would preferably be fine for use as shoes polish, and that when he tried to use these cosmetics they even attracted mosquitoes to bite him.
The coming into air of the ‘Bwino W’omutembeeyi’ is said to have sparked off the latent hostility, leading to court case.
Apart from the earlier allegations to Walukagga, Kasawuli claims that the singer is also being used by Samona’s business opponents to undermine his products before the public, and that Walukagga illegally solicited millions of Ugandan shillings from the city tycoon so that he could conceal the new song.
Walukagga refutes all other allegations claiming that he would never target any particular person, and that if one had followed his music career they would be able to see that he has carried out this principle all the way through.
In the interview with Freemuse, Walukagga said:
“My songs have nothing to do with Samona together with his products. In fact, if you listen to all my songs eight years back, you notice they have almost the same trend. I mean: my songs are about people’s daily lives, they are directed towards certain situations and do carry some message for the people.”
“So, because Samona is rich, he mistakenly thought I was singing about him, ” said the musician.
“I make sure my songs have meaning. So they are intended for people to learn from, apart from enjoying them. Songs like ‘Omuzadde tagulwa’ (a parent can never be bought!) is directed to those people who forsake their parents especially when they become rich; ‘Ekimansa naku’ (every one can suffer) is about those who stigmatize the sick, especially those with HIV/AIDS, forgetting that anyone can die at any time.”
Kasawuli was quoted in the Ugandan Observer saying that he could not share a woman with Walukagga. According to the newspaper, the woman being referred to underlie the whole row was “a bar attendant at AY Makindye before she went to work at Kasawuli’s Pacify Hotel in Wakaliga.”
‘Bwiino wekkomera’ – song about life in prison
His new song talks about miserable life in prisons and that whoever wishes another person to be imprisoned is wishing death to that person.
Court case rescheduled
Moreover Walukagga refuted reports that he had signed an agreement with Kassauli to resolve the despite out of court and work collaboratively in business, only admitting that the two parties had some discussions on the issue but it was yet to be concluded.
Mathias Walukagga: ‘Tuleppuke’ – video on YouTube
Related reading on the internet
New Vision – 9 November 2009
|Related reading on freemuse.org|