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Uganda gives teens a turn at the news

(GIN) — Teenagers in Uganda are the stars of a new TV news show that producers hope will draw other young people to programs of in-depth social commentary.

The program features rappers presenting current events in verse. Sharon Bwogi, a.k.a. Lady Slyke, kicked it off on a recent show: “People in Ukraine took over power… Celebrated a few days, then the party went sour…”

The show — NewzBeat — airs weekends on Uganda’s channel NTV in both English and Luganda, the local language.

MC Loy

MC Loy

Zoe Kabuye a.k.a. MC Loy, 13, added this: “Uganda has the youngest population in the world. Seven out of 10 people are less than 30 years old. Eight out of 10 are unemployed. Even with a degree or diploma, finding work is still a drama.”

NewzBeat’s “special correspondent,” Kabuye recently filed a piece on female boxers in Kampala’s Katanga slum for International Women’s Day. The program has been on air for two weeks in Uganda.

The rappers cover everything from entertainment news, sports to politics. Arnold Aganze, director, writer, actor and social worker from the Democratic Republic of Congo, says their medium, music, lets them say things other journalists might not.

The segment is hosted by Bwogi, and Daniel Kisekka, a.k.a. Survivor, in addition to MC Loy.

“Right now it’s a mixed bag. Obviously the hip-hop fans are crazy about it, but some people don’t understand it because hip-hop is not big here, it’s just getting there,” Kisekka, a hip-hop veteran who’s been rapping since 1988, told IPS.

NewzBeat is upfront about not being objective, but also stresses, “the street party is the only party we affiliate ourselves with.”

Kisekka says the show aims to cover issues not given sufficient air time on other stations.

“There are some things that are never covered (in Uganda), like corruption. There are some topics that are off limit, but we have to cover them,” he says.

Uganda has been generating international headlines of late, after President Yoweri Museveni signed an anti-gay law and another bill that forbids women from wearing miniskirts and led to attacks on females across the country.

NewzBeat delved into both issues.

“We talked a little about it (the anti-gay law). We don’t want to overdo it, because we know how people feel about this thing,” says Bwogi.

Other items that have been covered include Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s 90th birthday, the trouble in Central African Republic and South Sudan, the Sochi Winter Olympics and climate change.

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