Accepted Paper:

Do you want another rap? Transformations between music and politics in the Ugandan 2011 election campaigns  


Nanna Schneidermann (Aarhus University)

Paper short abstract:

Why did a 70 year old incumbent African president release a rap song? Based on ethnographic fieldwork among singers and cultural producers, this paper investigates the transformations and connections between popular music artists and politics in the 2011 election campaigns in Uganda.

Paper long abstract:

In the 2011 election campaigns in Uganda popular 'youth' music was a strategy to mobilize support and voters for political parties and candidates. Singers crossed in to the sphere of politics as entertainers at rallies, as critical voices in the underground, and the singer and producer Eddy Yawe ran for 'Member of Parliament'. On the other hand, the incumbent president Museveni crossed into the sphere of music by releasing a rap song with a music video and taking on the artist name 'Sevo'. This marks a new tendency in how music is used in political communication in Uganda. What does it mean when the president becomes a 'celebrity'? And how do celebrities of the music scene 'cross-over' to the sphere of politics? The shared performance space of singers and politicians during the campaigns juxtaposes 'youth' and 'politics' in novel ways. Based on longterm ethnographic fieldwork among musicians in Uganda, this paper investigates transformations and connections between popular music and politics in the 2011 election campaigns. I suggest that musicians are an emerging elite in Uganda; an elite who can 'lend fame' to political candidates and parties at election time.

Panel P165
Novel spaces for African youth: creativity, entrepreneurship and political action