By Denis Jjuuko

On Thursday morning, images surfaced online of a former musician with immense potential. Qute Kaye, who now I understand is Ivan Kawuma, was rescued by police from an angry mob that wanted to lynch him for stealing lights from a very old car. Qute Kaye was one of the most promising singers about a decade or so ago. He was more handsome than Theo Walcott. People who know these things used to say that he was actually cute… as cute as Barack Obama — a very good ingredient for those seeking a celebrity status. He had the voice and unlike some other people who call themselves singers, he could actually sing. You just need to look for his top hitting song, Ginkeese. Everything seemed set up for him to be crowned king and then something happened.

Qute Kaye seems to have hit rock bottom but that shouldn’t be surprising if you have been following what goes on around Kampala in the past one year or so when he surfaced at a pastor’s house for cleansing. He looked many years than he is, hungry, angry and desperate. The clothes looked oversized and had just been bought just before he was poured on with ‘holy water’ before declaring that he had given his life to Jesus.

From a potential music king, Qute Kaye had managed to turn himself into a destitute, stealing cheap lights for survival in just a decade. I don’t think Qute Kaye is a professional thief because looking at the images; he looked like he hadn’t eaten and showered for days. I think he was looking for something that can get him some posho and beans. And because he is not skilled in stealing, he was caught perhaps on his first attempt.

But that isn’t the main issue. The only reason we are talking about Qute Kaye is because he was once a promising singer. Because he was once a celebrity. Because we can quickly recognize him. There are many more Qute Kayes in our country who once could have reached the stars but miserably failed and now on the streets stealing, kidnapping, raping, and maiming others for survival.

They have walked the streets for jobs and got nothing, they have tried businesses and failed. Some people are saying Qute Kaye tried waiting jobs in restaurants and failed. I can understand that because once somebody recognized him, he couldn’t comfortably wait on that table. You can say that life isn’t giving a lot of our people a second chance. But because they don’t wear fake diamond studs on the ears and can’t be recognized, we pretend they don’t exist or their parents didn’t do a good job of upbringing them. Qute Kaye is finding himself where he is because we are failing them as a country. We can invoke the Holy Spirit and the name of God for days and nothing will change unless we do something.

We need to find sustainable ways to create jobs, establish incubation centres so the youth can bring their ideas to fruition and affordable capital so they can commercially realize their ideas. If we don’t do that, there are going to be more Qute Kayes on our streets and in the neighborhood where we live. I was reading a story the other day of guys who came up with award winning apps at Makerere University such as WinSsenga, which was a cheap ultrasound scanner for pregnant mothers. They were saying they have abandoned their idea to play it safe in employment. That is euphemism for frustration. They have walked the streets, wrote millions of proposals and got nothing. If such guys, and they are many, don’t find jobs, they turn up into Qute Kayes. They won’t have people like Mike Mukula vowing to rehabilitate them. They will end up as hardcore criminals or a statistic in our overcrowded correctional facilities.

Although it is important to rescue Qute Kaye from the abyss he finds himself in , there is need to rescue many others and most importantly ensure others don’t find themselves where he is. That will happen when we have an economy that works for everyone. When we attract investment into our country and when we don’t think only of ourselves.

And this isn’t only for the youth. A lot of Ugandan businesses are either in intensive care, on drip or in the mortuary being embalmed hoping that they will come back to life. Something needs to give.

The writer is a communication and visibility consultant. djjuuko@gmail.com

** A photo circulating online of Qute Kaye with car parts he had attempted to steal.

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