Saturday, November 27, 2010
HIP-HOP MEETS POLITICS: SUGU GETS SWORN IN PARLIAMENT
Early in the month, Tanzania’s favourite rapper – II Proud, a.k.a Mr II a.ka. Sugu was elected as Member of Parliament for Mbeya City Constituency making him the first rapper in the (world) to hold an elected office. Sugu now known as honorable Joseph Mbilinyi is not only now a member of parliament but a pioneer of Tanzanian hip-hop and one of the most successful ones. Throughout his career, Sugu has been known to address social issues for the downtrodden through his music earning him the moniker the man of the people and the voice of the voiceless. The rap name Sugu means tough.
He won the election on a opposition ticket with the party Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Party for Democracy & Development) CHADEMA. He garnered over 45,000 votes against the next contestant who garnered just below 25,000 votes. Another funny is twist to this story is that his opponent Mr.Benson Mpesya was Sugu’s high school teacher who once told him that he wouldn’t amount to nothing. Jay-Z’s lyrics make so much sense “Dear teacher/ you probably somewhere near a speaker/ am balling outta control can you hear my sneakers?”
Sugu is a celebrated Tanzanian artist, he has received several accolades such has Best Hip-Hop Artist, Best Artist at top national awards and has been sought after as a star artist and personality. Unlike other artists who just follow trends, Sugu doesn’t just fall for corporate branding and all that. He shocked the world when he boycotted the Kilimanjaro Music Awards in 2005 where he was nominated for Best Hip-Hop Album. The awards are sponsored by Tanzania’s biggest beer brand. His explanation was the awards were more interested in promoting the beer brand than the plight of musicians.
Over the years, Sugu stamped his name in a list of artists that actually care about the people of Tanzania. Him being elected to parliament puts him in a position to effect some sort of change for people in his country. Most artists usually sit on theirs backs and complain but never take that fight with their two hands. Early this year popular rapper Haitian born rapper Wyclef Jean tried to register for the running for the Presidency of his home native country Haiti without much success due to technicalities. Sugu is a first in a place where many have tried and can’t make it? Wishing him all the best in the job.
This brings to light the plight of other musicians always following the cheques but never doing anything for their communities. All you do is complain about how bad things are but never take the initiative to make a difference. You never question the integrity of the companies that pay your bills. Companies like Safaricom continue to flout consumer rights by giving them poor service. When you make a call and cannot hear the person on the other side but still get charged for that call that wasn’t your fault is that a violation of human rights? But where are they now? Probably at Safaricom’s latest gig. When will they take a stand and make a difference?