If there is anyone that definitely hates this Covid-19 epidemic, beyond the teachers and pastors, it’s artists. Here, I mean Djs, Comedians, MCs and everyone else that seeks a living off night life.
Even before anyone died in this ‘Kabalagala Republic’, bars and events received the first blow. Having worked in bars since 2009 and before that as an active user, I know that this group mostly lives a life of fishermen. This is simply because their money also comes just like fish does to fishermen. You drop in for 15 minutes, mime to your song, get paid, bounce to the next gig, do the same and the cycle continues till morning. The same happens for Djs, who drop into Casablanca or Alchemist, (since these were early starters) play for 2 hours, get paid cash, move to Atmosphere or Wave, play for an hour before hitting Amnesia or Guvnor to close their night.
If you are popular, there will be weekend parties during the day and events/music festivals and weddings to play before your regular gigs.
You are guaranteed cash because events and gigs just continue to come your way. It’s as easy as waking up, and readying yourself up with the hope of making money without having to hustle so much. Since their money is paid to them in small bits, it’s very hard to save it. So for most, it was living a day at a time. This worked for as long as the events kept flowing. Unfortunately, it’s always risky. Much as they make a lot more cash on a monthly basis than the average employee, the money is hard to accumulate to have any substantial savings. And because of the nature of the job, it’s hard to have a reliable side hustle.
You can’t work all night, with a bottle in hand, and do a regular job the next day. It’s not for the faint hearted. During my time at Club Amnesia, Virgin Island and Temptation`s Lounge, at times, I struggled with the day job. After long Campus Nights, I would get to my desk but experience dizziness and feel my head getting heavier. I would operate at half mast as Kampala people say. Most wouldn’t dare putting themselves through the cost that comes with the hustle. So they would settle for just the night gigs which are subsistence.
So, a few days after the first case was reported, bars were closed. Not long after, famine set in. The bars that remain open can hardly pay enough or even employ all the DJs, artistes and comedians in the entertainment industry or in this country. It’s tough for our brothers.
From the presidential speech, it was clear that the only way we can open as an industry, (bars, events and shows) will be after a substantial number of people are vaccinated. President Yoweri Museveni put it at 4.8million. As it is, we have quite a steady flow of vaccines available in different government hospitals and health centres. We just need to get people to present their arms for the exercise. The first hurdle is sorted, which is that of the availability of vaccines. Challenge now remains with getting the people to vaccinate.
This has been made harder by the growing vaccine hesitancy mostly caused by fake news. It’s surprising that the same people who are alive and well because they were vaccinated against Polio, Measles, TB, Diphtheria and other immunizable diseases can be so worried about yet another vaccine made by the very same companies that make the Covid-19 vaccines. Anti Vaxxers are at work, claiming the vaccines have magnets and some claim they kill recipients or even cause them erectile dysfunction. How many people do you know that have taken these vaccines, have experienced these adverse effects? I can talk for myself. I have taken both shots and I can swear over my whopper that nothing has changed.
American artiste Nicky Minaj caused quite a stir when she went further to claim that a friend of a cousin got his balls swollen after taking the vaccine. These are bullocks! Challenge is there are not enough people pushing for the vaccines as there are for Anti Vaxxers. We must take it upon ourselves to push people to get vaccinated. The president has made it clear, we either vaccinate or stay closed. It’s in our hands – or is it in our voices. We need to step out and mobilise ourselves to get people out to vaccinate lest we die in our misery.
Uganda Breweries Ltd is working with bar owners to get our customers, bar revellers, and staff vaccinated. We understand it’s the only way out. Artistes need to join this cause and get millions of fans to go and get vaccinated. It’s only then that maybe, just maybe, we will be able to party without closing the doors this Christmas.
By Innocent Nahabwe
CEO at BlueCube Limited Incorporating Kagwirawo sports betting, 100.2 Galaxy FM, Bluecube, Katogo 24 and 911 Lounge Salaama Rd, Kampala
Deputy Chairperson of National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).