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(Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP)

Uganda, on January 14, 2021. - Ugandans began voting in a tense election on January 14, 2021 under heavy security and an internet blackout as veteran leader Yoweri Museveni pursues a sixth term against a former pop star half his age. The internet went down on the eve of the vote, with some parts of the country reporting complete disruptions or significant slowdowns, after one of the most violent election campaigns in years.

Ugandans Head to Polls in Potentially Historic Elections

Many hopes are pinned on Uganda's elections today as main opposition leader Bobi Wine attempts to unseat current President Yoweri Museveni from his 34-year term in office.

Today, Ugandans are heading to the polls to cast their vote in the national elections despite a recent partial internet shutdown which has seen a ban on all social media platforms. The elections are arguably the most highly-contested in decades as opposition leader, Bobi Wine (real name Robert Kyagulanyi), attempts to remove current President Yoweri Museveni from office following a 34-year rule. Clad in face masks as the COVID-19 pandemic remains ongoing, voters have already gathered at polling stations across the country to have their voices counted.


READ: Uganda Enforces Social Media Shutdown as Presidential Elections Draw Closer

There are currently 11 opposition leaders competing against Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) although Bobi Wine is admittedly leading the front with his National Unity Platform (NUP). Notably, Nancy Kalembe is the only woman presidential candidate in this race. These particular elections have the potential to be historic as they could see the end to Museveni's 34-year rule and hopes of clinching a sixth term in office. That Bobi Wine is half the age of 76-year-old Museveni says a lot about how many leaders, African and otherwise, refuse to relinquish power even long past their sell-by date.

The road to these elections has been less than smooth. Bobi Wine has been arrested countless times, labelled an "enemy of the state, had many of his supporters targeted and some even killed along with his residence having been surrounded and then subsequently raided by authorities on two separate occasions. The opposition leader has even been forced to wear a bullet proof vest in an effort to protect himself in public. Additionally, election campaigning was prohibited in major cities like Kampala on account of COVID-19 regulations although the collective opposition generally agree that it was an effort to thwart their campaigns, the BBC reports.

It is also reported that there are no observers from the US or Europe for this election. The US was denied accreditation to participate as observers according to US ambassador to Uganda, Natalie Brown. Admittedly, it must be said that the US is hardly the beacon of democracy right now following the storming of their Capitol by a mob of insurrectionists at the behest of President Donald Trump. However, what is rightly concerning is that Ugandans have neither received their accreditation as observers nor have the alleged observers from the African Union or East African Community been named by Museveni's spokesperson, Don Wanyama.

While the government has said that the presidential and parliamentary elections will be "free and fair," this remains to be seen after the last vote has been counted. Wishing Uganda a peaceful election today.

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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