This goes out to all God-fearing people (believers) and in particular musician-cum-politician, Bobi Wine (Robert Kyagulanyi, MP Kyadondo East constituency).
Sometime in 2013, I called Bobi Wine on phone. I had an idea for him to do a song on road accidents. His answer was interesting. He said: “That would be okay but a song wouldn’t help when the roads are in zigzag.
People cannot drive on one side when there are ditches in the road.” I was instantly gratified by his answer. I recognized that he selects the themes of his songs meticulously. Now that he has crossed over into the sphere of mainstream politics, I am sure he has more ideas to craft into a song as part of his activism.
That is why when he did the Tuliyambala Engule song, for which he is being celebrated and roasted in nearly equal measure, I felt a need to reach out to him to establish if he is still as “meticulous” in his selection of musical themes.
Music as a medium is backed by the gift of nature. The original intention of music was to be used in worship. Theologians will tell you that the greatest musician with a delightful voice was Satan before he fell out of favour with God because of rebellion. He was then hurled down to hell to prevent contaminating other heavenly beings.
The sacred gift of music had been defiled. When humans populated the earth, they began to use it for purposes other than the original one - of worshipping God. And not just music; all forms of art and creativeness were intended to be used in glorifying the Creator, the greatest artist whose works are inimitable.
Every time humans have tried to substitute His ingenuity with their own or tried to become co-creators beyond limits sanctioned by Him, disaster follows. In liturgy, there is a genre of music considered to be most suitable and inspired for worship, for reasons that I may not explain here but largely on the strength of the message and its focus which cannot be mistaken in its purpose.
Classical hymns have a distinct feel about them that differentiates them from other genres and what a local kidandali discotheque is likely to boom out. There is a mood it creates that lifts a hearer’s spirit and tunes them to a higher state of being.
In that state, the lyrics in the song implant very well on the mind and heart of the hearer. It’s the height of worship and supplication as prayer is infused in the melody. Such songs carry meaning that may be passive to some but for a believer, it is a paranormal experience as he or she launches special appeals to the Creator to free them from whatever troubles assail them.
It becomes a completely different story when such songs are used in situations where the context makes the purpose for which they are sung ambiguous. We have all attended a funeral where an inebriated mourner bursts out into hymn but substitutes words to fit their mindset including the vulgar- causing much laughter and giggles. God says that He is a jealous God.
I believe that that jealousy rages when His glory is parceled out. My feeling on Tuliyambala Engule song - and I am no cleric - is that Bobi Wine should rather relent on it than being misunderstood, causing some to stumble or risking divine judgment for glory fishing.
The song may not have been composed in heaven but it was dedicated long ago. The more it is disseminated in a questionable context, the more coals heap on the singer’s head - a crown of fire.
If the trend continues, there is nothing that stops someone else from taking the Lord’s Prayer and changing its wording for fun or for occult purposes, and so on. That would be very dangerous as far as the highest form of faith is concerned.
Bobi Wine has so much to sing about that he can let the one “hit” go if the road it is riding is “zigzag” as he told me six years ago.
The writer is a member of the Commonwealth Writers Group.