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Uganda Will Begin Imposing a 'Daily​ Tax on Social Media Users'

The government says it's part of a plan to raise revenue.

The Ugandan government will begin charging citizens a daily tax for their social media usage starting in July, reports Reuters.

Cell phone owners who use social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp will each be charged 200 Ugandan shillings ($0.027) per day. The imposed fee is said to be part of a government plan to raise revenue.

According to the Ugandan publication The Daily Monitor,President Yoweri Museveni, has said that the fee will be applied to people who use social media for "gossip."

"I am not going to propose a tax on internet use for educational, research or reference purposes...these must remain free," he was quoted as saying.


Activists are calling the plan another attempt by Museveni, who's been in power for over 30 years, to control freedom of expression. Uganda's Finance Minister Matia Kasaija says the government earns from taxing citizens will benefit them in the long run.

"We're looking for money to maintain the security of the country and extend electricity so that you people can enjoy more of social media, more often, more frequently," he said.

In January, it was announced that Uganda would launch its own, state-run social media networks to rival Facebook and Twitter.

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Photo courtesy of Martin Senkubuge

Ugandan Artist Martin Senkubuge is Dismantling the Stigma Around Vitiligo

Ugandan artist Martin Senkubuge is using his artwork to start conversations and raise awareness around the skin condition vitiligo.

In September 2019, Ugandan artist Martin Senkubuge was showcasing artwork at a group exhibition in Kampala when a woman approached him. She was drawn to a painting of his titled Melanin Tattoo. Ready to pay, she asked him if there was a particular story behind the painting. Senkubuge said the painting, which confronted issues around skin whitening, was inspired by Michael Jackson and how he bleached his skin.

“Artists should do research before presenting their work,” she said, disappointed, and less motivated to purchase the piece. The woman was a Michael Jackson fan and she knew that the late pop star had suffered from vitiligo, a skin disorder that causes loss of skin color in blotches and patches. From that moment, Senkubuge was inspired to learn about the pop star’s relationship with vitiligo.

He would find out that the star had received criticism from the public, on the assumption that he had chose to bleach his skin. If a man of such international acclaim was treated this way, how were those who were poorer treated? In other parts of the world — in remote places where public ignorance thrives — those living with the condition are seen as a bad omen or cursed.

Senkubuge wanted to change that. He soon founded the Part of Us initiative. The main objectives of the initiative are to visually amplify vitiligo voices, fight against stereotypes and stigma, and embrace vitiligo as a natural skin condition using visual art.

In his small studio in the outskirts of Kampala, the 25-year-old artist draws hyper-realistic charcoal portraits of persons with vitiligo. Between April and May, 2022, Sunkubugbe conducted an online survey where respondents revealed that they faced stigma, trauma, emotional stress and social injustice as a result of vitiligo. In his campaign along the way, he has been the recipient of a slew of recognition and external support. In 2020, he won a project grant of 2 million Ushs ($559) from Goethe Zentrum, Kampala (GZK).

Together, with a team of volunteers, he organized a solo show in the premises of GZK throughout April, 2021. Under Part of Us, the exhibition advocated for inclusivity of people living with vitiligo. Recent data from Global Vitiligo Foundation indicates that about 70-100 million people are affected by vitiligo in the world. In Africa, people living with vitiligo are stigmatized for the entirety of their lives. In this interview with OkayAfrica, Senkubuge talks about combating stereotypes around vitiligo and challenges faced by his initiative.

Photo courtesy of Martin Senkubuge


What was your turning point in your art career?

October 2021 was a game changer. It was during this time that my lost hope was restored. At first, it was when my artworks were featured in a Guardian article by John Agaba. Then a journalist from BBC World Service contacted me after reading the same article. This was a dream come true and, for the first time, my dad believed that his son would make it as an artist. Additionally, this international recognition and attention towards my drawings became a strong affirmation that my artwork is relevant. I cannot afford to reconsider being a visual artist; I firmly believe that I will die one.

What motivated you to launch your Part of Us visual campaign and how has been the journey?

When my work went viral on the internet and media, a number of people living with vitiligo reached out to me with interest in working with me. I then decided to create a lifetime campaign that would allow me to work with more people living with the condition. Following this global publicity and attention, the Part of Us Initiative has since embraced and focused on the New Art Movement of Vitiligo Art and creativity, with an aim of dissipating stigma, trauma and psychological stress amongst people living with this skin condition. Later on many creative minds and artists, mostly fellow youths, reached out asking how they could take part in the campaign.

We then decided to establish Part of Us as a Nonprofit Organization, a foundation made up of creative people, people living with vitiligo and humanitarians who don’t live with the skin condition. In addition to creating awareness through visual arts and creativity, the Initiative gives us a chance to directly impact many more people living with vitiligo who may not be interested in appearing in artworks due to various personal reasons.

Martin Senkubuge artwork

Photo courtesy of Martin Senkubuge

With the stigma surrounding vitiligo not only in Uganda but on the continent, how do you find and approach models for your portraits?

At the beginning, in 2019 and 2020, I would post on my social media platforms asking for contacts of people with vitiligo. After talking to about 60 over the phone — since it was during the lockdown period — only three gave me the benefit of trust. It was challenging then to convince many, since opportunists have taken advantage of their condition and left them more emotionally damaged. Currently, the fact that more writers and journalists have continued to document and cover my work and stories of the models [helps.] Most of the new models already have hints about my clear vision and they are more than willing to contribute to this vision.

Martin Senkubuge

Photo courtesy of Martin Senkubuge

How has your initiative impacted the people living with vitiligo? Any success stories?

Keeping in mind that our ultimate goal is to create awareness, end stigma and transform lives, we have a number of successful stories. For the first time we celebrated World Vitiligo Day in Uganda on the 25th of June this year. It was a successful photo-shoot event accompanied by indoor games, eats and drinks, networking and sharing about life experiences. We have been able to receive more local media coverage which wasn’t the case the first two years when we were always turned down due to the intensity of myths surrounding vitiligo.

One of my pioneer models, Eva Atukunda, stopped covering her blotches with make-up after seeing her face all over the internet and on big screens. Waking up every morning had become a lifelong responsibility to her and her two young children who she had trained to apply makeup so that they could finish fast and go to school. When she posted her face on Facebook for the first time without makeup, many were shocked by her courage. One gentleman, who had never looked at himself in a mirror for about 23 years, directly messaged Eva and he never remained the same. Isaac is the other person in my drawings. He is a model and vixen who has been identified by many more videographers and modeling agencies to work with him. There are many more individual stories but most importantly our initiative continues to receive and register more people living with vitiligo.

Do you believe that art can reduce stigma and myths surrounding vitiligo in Uganda and Africa at large?

I believe that art can reduce stigma and myths. Looking back in the old times of Caravaggio, [Claude] Monet, Rembrandt and Leonardo Da Vinci times, artists were mirrors to their societies. They would capture moments and events which greatly and diversely informed our present times in terms of medical, health, technology, education, life trends, fashion, and politics. I believe that, as artists, we have a high sense of imagination which we can use to either build or destroy the world through our executions in fine arts, films, animations, musical lyrics and videos, designs, content on the internet. One of my philosophies as a researcher and a visual artist is that the more we paint, draw, and showcase a challenge based on research, to the public with consistency, vision and reason, we can positively influence transformations in various societal perceptions.

What are your future plans?

Through social media, many people living with vitiligo have reached out to me from different continents to be drawn. I am now looking forward to a global project which will be extremely unique. We have our second edition of the Part of Us Art Exhibition in June, 2023. I am glad that more artists, both male and female, have joined me to make this exhibition more relevant. We shall always hold biannual Art Exhibitions with purely artwork creation inspired by vitiligo skin condition. I plan to go for further studies, with my research focusing on Vitiligo and the myths, stigma, beliefs surrounding it.

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The Best East African Songs of 2022 So Far

From Kenyan drill to bongo flava and everything in between, here are the best East African songs of the year so far featuring Buruklyn Boyz, Zuchu, NJERI, Diamond Platnumz, Khaligraph Jones and more.

The first half of 2022 has seen many rising stars of the region cement their place in the charts with some exquisite bodies of art.

As the new generation of East African artists innovates their look and sound they’re gaining from the rest of the world every day. From the likes of Buruklyn Boyz, NJERI and Zuchu, we have seen some spectacular singles and projects so far this year. On the other hand, the heavyweights kept their fans happy with plausible releases that raised the bar for all artists from this side of the continent.

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Photo Credit: Adayliving

Chopstix on Crafting Burna Boy’s Biggest Hit "Last Last"

We spoke with Chopstix, one of Nigeria’s most in-demand producers, about his career and working on Burna Boy's smash 'Love, Damini' album.

Much of the credit for Afropop's rise over the last decade is usually credited to its artists. Thanks to their chart-topping singles, propulsive personalities, and swell catalogues, these acts are bringing popular African music to the attention of a global audience. The hyperfocus on these musicians often means that other participants in the music creation process are overlooked.

The rise of super-producers like Sarz, LONDON, P.Priime, and Chopstixis quickly refining the future of the genre as they receive more attention for their critical role in shaping the direction of our contemporary pop sound.

“Times are changing, before now producers didn’t have access to all the tools we have now,” Chopstix told OkayAfrica during a Zoom early in in August. “We’re receiving more recognition for our work and that’s a great thing.” At the moment, Chopstix is one of Nigeria’s most in-demand record producers, serving as a link between the heady rush of the hip-hop-inflected sound of early 2010s Afropop and its more recent iteration.

Born as Malcolm Kolade Olagundoye, Chopstix got his start in music production as a student attending St. Murumba College in Jos, the alma mater of iconic Nigerian pop duo P-Square. The music-loving principal of St. Murumba had set up a studio in the school and established a music and drama club to get students engaged. “We had a live session part and a recording session where computers and software were set up to record and produce music but I didn’t know about that session for a while, I only knew about the live session part,” Chopstix said. “One day, while rehearsing, I was hearing music from the other room and I found an older guy producing music all by himself. That was my lightbulb moment and I just knew it was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life because he looked so good and was so in his zone.”

Introduced by a friend to music production software FruityLoops (now known as FL Studio), Chopstix dove head-on into music production, experimenting widely with the tools at his disposal. Those early days spent sleuthing around in FL Studios also helped crystallize his affinity for the innovative sampling technique that gave birth to his producer tag. “When I first got my FruityLoops installed, it was just a couple of sounds that came with it but I didn’t want to use those stock sounds because everybody had them and I wanted my music to sound different,” he said. “So, what I’ll do is listen to songs by [hip-hop producers] Kanye West, DJ Premier, and Timbaland and listen for places where a kick or snare stands out and chop it. I spent hours of my time chopping up those samples and stacking them up. At the end of the day, I had tons of samples that I had taken from different places. Those were the samples I was using to produce at the time and when people heard my beats they were always asking where they came from because it didn’t sound like the usual stuff people used.”

Chopstix wearing a suit

Photo Credit: Adayliving

Around 2009, Chopstix met fellow Jos-based musicians Ice Prince, Yung L, and Endia, coming together with the latter two to form the music collective, GRIP Muzik, that helped to refine an era of Jos’ music scene. “At the time, we were just remaking global hit songs,” Chopstix said. “We would go on radio and have people request that we remake a song and we remade it. We were mostly remaking music and putting out our original songs occasionally. When we saw the traction we were getting, we figured that we could do it bigger than we were doing it and that’s when we moved from Jos to Lagos.”

The move to Lagos came with its unique challenges as the rising producer had to face the unrelenting pace of life in Nigeria’s entertainment capital. He took time out to understand the pulse of the city’s entertainment structure and the industry that had grown around it, taking a backseat from active production for close to a year. In Lagos, his relationship with Ice Prince metamorphosed into a full-blown creative partnership that saw him produce hit singles like "Aboki" and "Gimme Dat" while helping Ice Prince complete his sophomore album, Fire Of Zamani.

“At the time, we made 'Aboki,' we were trying to experiment with the traditional sound because I always like to push people out of their comfort zones," Chopstix said. "The first few days after the song dropped, it got a lot of backlash on blogs but a week after that, it just switched. The reactions were great and the song just went viral and blew up... That was my first hit single after coming to Lagos. It introduced me officially as Chopstix.”

Working with Ice Prince meant that Chopstix was always collaborating with some of Nigeria’s biggest stars. He remembers officially meeting Burna Boy, when the Port Harcourt-born star came to record his verse for "Gimme Dat." That meeting started off a working relationship that continues to this day. “The first song I did with Burna was 'Rockstar.' it was the first time I recorded one-on-one with him after 'Gimme That,'" Chopstix said. “I think we connected instantly from the first time we met and it’s still the same to date. It hasn’t shifted and it’s only become stronger. There’s always been an understanding between both of us of what type of musicians we are and the connection just happened seamlessly.”

The connection between both musicians has deepened as they have ascended to new levels over the last five years with Chopstix being a part of the four-album run — from Outsideto Love, Damini — that has catapulted Burna Boy to international fame. (Another album, Gaddafi, which Chopstix worked heavily on was put on hold. “It’s probably one of the hardest projects I’ve worked on sonically but I don’t think it’s something that the world is ready for now because he was talking about a lot of real facts and global political stuff that I’m not sure people are ready for,” Chopstix said of that project.)

In July, Burna Boy released Love, Damini with "Last Last" as its lead singles. The song, which samples Toni Braxton’s "He Wasn’t Man Enough," was recorded one month before its official release and has become the most commercially successful song of Burna Boy’s career, peaking at No. 70 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 4 on the UK Top 40 Chart. Despite the heavy thematic references of the song, Chopstix says he was sure it was going to be a global hit record.

“Bro, as soon as this song was done — as soon as I hit export — Burna and I had a moment where we looked at each other and we knew that we had caused trouble,” Chopstix said. “He knew instantly and we were already talking about how he was going to perform it and what the performances would look like on stage. That’s how much he is into his craft. When he says he put his life into his job, it’s not just lyrics — it’s facts. That’s why I enjoy working with people that take their work seriously because I take my work seriously. He called up the video director that same night, the director pulled up at his place the next day and the video was shot there.”

According to Chopstix, the decision to sample "He Wasn’t Man Enough" wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision; both he and Burna were huge fans of the song. “[The sample] was specifically picked out by Burna Boy himself," he said. "And it happens that I've always wanted to sample that particular song as well so the stars basically aligned in our favor.” A lot of the recent online chatter around “Last Last” has focused on Burna Boy’s comment about Toni Braxton receiving about 60% of the royalties on “Last Last” but Chopstix insists that this is the way such collaborations work.

“Sampling is a culture in music that has been around for decades,” said. “After 'Last Last' was done, the rest were label and management talks and Toni Braxton's team had been contacted for clearance. When a song is sampled and done right, it is indirectly a feature or collaboration. This automatically bridges gaps between the artists involved. It will introduce African artists to new territories and also their music is not completely alien. This means more listeners, and African artists can easily tour the new areas and further spread our music and culture.”

While still basking in the success of Last Last, Chopstix is working on bigger projects, viewing the success of the single as a portal for the next phase of his career. “I’m just super excited because 'Last Last' has just opened a door for the journey to start," Chopstix said. "I feel like I’m just starting right now. All I’ve experienced till this moment has just been preparation, this is just the starting point. I can’t wait for the next record and the next record and on and on.”

Kenya
Photo by TONY KARUMBA/AFP via Getty Images

William Ruto's Presidential Win Clouded by Odinga's Rejection

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga is struggling to deal with his loss to current Deputy President Ruto, and may influence civil unrest.

East African nation Kenya has long been considered one of Africa's most beautiful examples of a stable, democratically led country. But, as we know, all good things must eventually come to an end.

This year's presidential election proved to be the most tumultuous in the country's recent history, as current Deputy President-turned-President elect William Ruto was announced as the victor earlier this week. His opposition, however, is having a hard time adjusting. After news of his loss came out, Kenyan politician and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga declared the election results "null and void", and decided to challenge them in court.

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10 Upcoming African Films to Look Forward to in 2022

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Moroccan-Belgian Photographer Mous Lamrabat’s New Exhibition Captures the Necessity Of Peace

We spoke to Moroccan-Belgian photographer Mous Lamrabat about his new exhibition, "Blessing from Mousganistan," and the themes within his work.