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Ugandans Are Using Sharp Humor to Criticize Their Country's Social Media Tax

The controversial social media tax has gone into effect in Uganda and citizens are using humor—and social media itself—to challenge it.

On Sunday, the Ugandan government put into effect its highly controversial social media tax policy, which charges each Ugandan social media users the equivalent of 200 shillings ($0.05) to use sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp.

The policy has caused a public outcry, as many Ugandans believe that the law impedes upon their free speech, and is another government attempt to silence media critics.

Ugandans have widely criticized the implementation of the tax, which Museveni has claimed will help curb gossip in the country, as well as provide the government with more revenue to payoff national debt.


Some are finding creative ways to avoid paying the tax—mostly by using VPNs which make it appear as though sites are being accessed from another country—but others have had to make electronic payments before entering what the government refers to as Over the Top (OTT) sites, BBC Africa.

Several have taken to social media to express their discontent with having to pay to use social media, and it appears that some are trying to initiate a #NoDataWeek in protest of the levy.

As always, many are responding to the social media tax with wit and humor, and are taking jabs at the president, even referencing his infamous "the mouth is for eating" rant. Check out some hilarious comments below.

















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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