By Henry Mutebe
In my view, Bebe Cool doesn’t merit a long post in as far the political discourse is concerned. If I were writing about his music though, I would have the obligation and respect to write a long post and shower him with the glory he deserves in that field. He surely deserves credit when it comes to music. However, since his name comes into the conversation because of his recent political engagements, I shall give him some attention and offer my views through this commentary.
Was it right for people to pelt bottles/cans/items at him during a music show? Absolutely not. It was wrong, for people to be that intolerant. May be they could have booed him, if they found him tasteless but not pelted items at him. I would not throw a physical item at anybody no matter how bad I hated them. I would not encourage or support anyone physically assaulting or battering anyone because of political differences.
However, that it happened, we must then address our minds to why it happened. At the end of that journey, in which we must carefully dig into the buildup, I believe we shall have a better appreciation of issues. That understanding is important in mediating our feelings about about what happened and will inform our decision on how much we should be sorry or not for Bebe Cool.
I have a lot of respect for Bebe Cool given his contribution to the music industry. I believe that through him, many people have found inspiration to start their music and business careers…and some have got jobs because of him…while others have been entertained by his music. On those grounds, he is a notable member of society.
Secondly, I have a lot of respect for every man who uses his brain to make a living and fend for his family. Anyone who has a family or responsibility of taking care of others, married or not, merits maximum respect. Bebe Cool is a father, husband to someone and a friend to many. By extension, we have to respect those whose lives and welfare depend on him.
However, such notability in society comes, or should I say, calls, for a level of emotional intelligence and situational awareness. When you are a person of Bebe Cool’s status, you must be measured in your words. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t express your views on politics or support the people you like, but you must do it with the care of a rat picking a ground nut from a trap. Everything you say is taken seriously and can have consequences.
A couple of months ago, Bebe Cool is alleged (reported in media) to have called some people ‘cockroaches’. If this is true, this was unfortunate. This kind of characterization of people you disagree with is immensely dangerous and you can be sure of one thing; to be paid in the same currency.
1994, in Rwanda, that word; ‘cockroaches’, was one of the terms used by some leaders to dehumanize one group and fuel an attack in which, in a space of just 100 days, over 800,000 people were brutally slain; Neighbour turning against neighbour. If there is anything that history teaches us, it is to impress it upon leaders to often be measured in what they say because their words have effect. As a leader, you are presumed to be the ‘civilized one’. The moment you abscond that duty, you give the public an example on how to behave or misbehave.
In many ways, Bebe Cool has taught the public how to go bear knuckle. He is reported to have fought in clubs, had exchanges with different people…and so over a period of time…people who follow his music have learnt to go bear knuckle with him. I would want to think that this incident feeds into that background.
Bebe Cool is above 18 years of age, he should know better that occupying such a public space calls for a lot of restraint, emotional intelligence, prudence and good communication skills. Crowds usually do not have heads…so they can be quite hard to deal with.
Even in the so much admired societies like UK and US, Politicians and celebrities are pelted with stones/eggs/bottles et cetera. It is hard to stop people from doing what they want to do…so your own conduct must not invite their already negative sentiments towards you.
Do I feel sorry for Bebe Cool? I wish I did but NO. I instead feel sorry for his family and those who will be hurt by what happened to him. They deserve better and Bebe Cool owes them an apology. He should mature and behave in more respectful ways that do not predispose him to such veil attacks. I do not feel sorry for him because his own conduct has always been unhinged.
While Bebe Cool is a smart person who has managed his music career and made lots of money, he is still deficient in public/social decorum. While the beefing is part of their trade, I think sometimes it crosses the line. His latest attacks on Bobi Wine show you the kind of unrestrained character who is not situationally aware and lacks the basic sense of decorum and compassion.
Recently the former police spokesperson Hassan Kasingye was rounded up by some angry residents who wanted to mob him. We all know that Kasingye had a job that puts anyone in a very difficult situation, often times, saying things that annoy the public. But this man has such humility and respect that when guns could not defend him, his humility and respect for others was the shield that saved him from the angry residents.
When people tried to round him up, others came and stopped it. They put their own bodies as the shield insisting ‘Afande’ is innocent and a good man. In that video, you hear many voices insisting this man is innocent…and no one should touch him. They protected him and found safe passage for him. Such is the priceless value of humility.
You can be NRM and still be nice to others. You can disagree with Bobi Wine but visit him when he is sick. That is what brothers do. You can doubt his health status but not be vicious in talk. The Kasingye incident shows that you can earn a living, have political views different from others but still be respectful to others who you disagree with. In the end, we are Ugandans first.
There was another incident during the Kayunga/Buganda riots. There is a very respectful, jovial and humble army officer who was caught up in the fracas. While on his way to pick his child from school, the riots broke out and angry youth started violence. His car was surrounded… and some angry youth wanted to burn it and also beat him up. However, many others said…identified him quickly and said…No…never this man…leave this man…he is very respectful…he doesn’t abuse people and listens. That army officer is a common face on TV. He will disagree with you in such a humble manner that you do not take offence. So humility and respect are values that save you in some situations.
There are so many NRM supporters and opposition supporters who are in the music industry. There are married people who live in the same house but support different football teams, different political parties or even have different ideals and interests. They do not call the other cockroaches. There are so many people who love and support the president. Why don’t people pelt stones at them? You have to ask yourself, why is it me? You need to reflect on your own behavior and language and connect the dots.
I have also heard some people saying People power is violent. This is a striking example of insincerity. The brutal Kitata (who is now in prison) is an NRM supporter. My grandmother is also an NRM supporter. Should I go and abuse my grandmother and blame her for being violent because Kitata was violent towards some sections of the public. There are good and bad people on all sides. To paint all of them with the same brush reflects a deficiency in analysis of issues.
We should condemn violence, all forms of violence no matter whether they come in form of bottles being pelted at people or Bebe Cool calling others cockroaches. Violence is not only physical. It takes many shapes and physical violence is always a reaction to mental violence. All this is violence and may be…just may be if Bebe cool supporters sat him down and asked him to apologise for calling people cockroaches….or may be atleast…in future…try to be more civil…may be the bottles would not have been pelted. The president has so many supporters and they are not being stoned. One should move beyond these stones and ask, why Bebe cool?
In Bebe cool, there is a man, a Ugandan, a husband, a musician, a father, a son, relative, friend to many people and then an arrogant, abusive and inconsiderate person. Bebe Cool is so many things. The question we should ask is, when people were throwing those bottles/stones, who was their anger targeted at? When people were stoning him, we must ask, what were they stoning? Were they stoning the man, the musician, the father, the brother, the son of our beloved Bidandi Ssali…were they stoning a fellow Ugandan, a muganda, an educated person, who exactly were people stoning?
I think that Bebe Cool, in his future speeches, should learn to speak like a father, a friend, a husband, a son, a Ugandan and an educated person. Fathers and civilized persons cannot call others cockroaches. You can’t strip another human being of their humanity by calling them a cockroach. Human beings are by nature meant to self-preserve. So when you dehumanize them, by way of calling them cockroaches, they are bound, as a law of nature, to fight back and reclaim their humanity…and sadly they may reclaim it the bad way.
The moment you start speaking and abusing people calling them cockroaches, they won’t see the father, husband, brother or man in you. They take you for an ill -mannered artist who they should treat with all the contempt you deserve. I don’t think people pelted stones at Bebe cool because he supports the government or the president. There are many who do so and show it every day but no one stones them.
I think it is the sheer arrogance and insensitive nature with which Bebe Cool is loose with his words and or conducts himself that invited such anger. Even after the attack, he went on air and said Bobi Wine was pretending. Listening to him talk, I could not think of a person so dead to the basic human feeling of compassion as Bebe Cool.
Again, I want to repeat, no one deserves to be pelted with stones or bottles. If we are so angry with the person, at least, for the sake of their innocent family, let’s keep calm and restrain from acting. I feel sorry for his innocent family that must be traumatized by the incident…but I do not feel sorry for the unchanging, arrogant and insensitive Bebe Cool. Unless he changes and shows remorse, he will only keep attracting negative energy. Remember, respect is earned. You gotta work for it. Humility doesn’t cost much, but it pays a lot.
If Bebe Cool had gathered some little basic common sense or compassion and paid a visit to his brother just before that show…I suspect it could have done alot in healing the situation. A picture would be enough to show people that brothers can disagree but in times of suffering, they stand together. His strategists and intelligence should have been situationally aware and leveraged the situation with a surprise visit to Bobi. but i dont even know if he employs advisers and thinkers. Humility does a lot: The lack of it costs alot.