HENRY MUTEBE: MY THOUGHTS ON BEBE COOL’S PERFORMANCE ON THE FRONTLINE.

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Henry Mutebe

During the NBS frontline show, I was just laughing all through.
Look, unlike many of you here who are castigating Bebe Cool, on my part, I was not disappointed by Bebe Cool.

Infact, on the contrary, I was pleased with his performance. This is why.

I think we all agree on one thing and I hope he too is honest to agree with me on this – Bebe Cool is still politically or intellectually infant. Let me put some caveats. I chose the word ‘infant’ and not other words because I want it to be understood in the sense of ‘innocence’ and not in any other.

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An infant is inexperienced and can not be judged for not knowing. So I don’t mean he (Bebe) is intellectually a dwarf but he is inexperienced in the political domain. As such, people’s expectations of him are overly raised.

Putting Bebe Cool on Frontline is like taking a P.2 kid in a senior two chemistry class where the teacher is going to discuss half life. Again I dont mean Bebe Cool is not educated….I mean he is not yet at the level of those he was to discuss with. I also need to add that my judgement does not mean I am better than him…I simply mean he does not match the people he was going to be debate with. In my view, Bebe Cool did very well. I didn’t expect anything better than what he put up and for that reason, I consider that he did well.

Given his background and experience (is it inexperience?), it would be inappropriate to judge him using a higher matrix. He couldn’t do better than that. What you saw or heard is what bebe cool is. If he was inconsistent, it was for lack of skill and not poor preparation. Bebe Cool is Bebe cool. He put out his best….and that is his best….so I think we should judge him for his ability to give his best…not the quality of his best. You will develop a headache for ‘nothing.’

Clearly Bebe Cool was put on a platform where he is inexperienced and intellectually infant. I must quickly add, that on Music, he knows his thing. I respect him. Musically…he is intellectually tall. Mark that difference. You may not beat him at it. However, to expect that he would find and articulate the link between politics and music or engage in analyzing the political developments within Uganda’s landscape is to demand too much of him. It was a tall order. He was punching above his weight.

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In fact…all through…I was not mad at him, I was mad at NBS. He needed an assistant to help interpret the questions, calm him whenever he feels he wants to jump in…and also help him understand things…without pretending to be writing. Being a teacher…I always get worried when I see students who pretend to be writing a lot instead of listening…Usually they are not understanding…or are missing the substance of what is being said. (although it is okay to make notes so you dont lose sight of questions raised or issues you wish to respond to). Just that his writing, in my view, was overly theatrical and indeed did not deliver any results.

Some of these debates require seasoned Public Relations (PR) gurus like Ofwono Opondo (OO) who mastered the art of the game and will discuss matters with the likes of Mao and Musumba without getting personal or emotionally charged. Somehow even when they live on different sides of the political divide, they debate without any emotional charge. I must confess…It takes time and experience to get there.

NBS Tv Frontline

I was observing Mao and Musumbu with utmost attention…the whole time, Salaam Musumbu was trying to find the appropriate language and epistemic level at which to find Bebe Cool and discuss or express herself so that Bebe could understand not just the form and substance but also have the humility to listen. In fact…I would dare say that Musumba and Semuju…did very poorly…and understandably…they found it hard to explain certain things to Bebe Cool. Bebe needs more exposure and interaction with these people and other senior NRM intellectuals to learn the language, structure and mechanics of civilized debate.

Like mathematics, understanding certain things requires that a student has prior understanding of certain laws, principles and properties or protocols of the subject. Even the best professor in quantum Physics would find it hard to discuss that subject with a P.1 child. We have to agree (or I beg that you understand) that Bebe Cool is used to a different field…where the rules of the game are different…and where he is used to being celebrated as the best (or should I say where he is the self proclaimed BIG SIZE). So he came to the show with that mindset and on many occasions, it got in the way of his arguments, often cutting short the substance of his arguments. Sometimes he needed to listen but he does not have that humility…and it is understandable…although regrettable.

Bebe Cool did not know (or pretended not to know) that he was debating with very experienced and seasoned panelists who are on top of their game. Instead of listening, pick the weak link in the chain of an argument (there were many such points in both Musumba and Sumuju’s arguments), he was instead concentrating on proving that he is Big. Mao had to try, painfully, to find the right words to tell him, how to express himself without being insensitive. Even then, Bebe Cool did not have the patience to listen or even understand what Mao was respectfully helping him understand.

Bebe Cool..driven by his shining inexperience, would almost jump in at every opportunity, failing to listen more so that he could find entry points for his own arguments. In my view, people should not attack Bebe Cool for supporting President Museveni. Everyone has a right and should be left to like, love, promote and celebrate those they wish.

For me, it was the lack of structure and poor logical flow of his arguments and his irritating interruptions that I found a problem with. If you are defending the president and you are going to do so against Mao, Musumba and Semujju, you need to develop the brain muscles in the same way as you have developed your arm muscles and chest. If this was a case in which I was a judge, I would find Bebe Cool innocent. He is politically underage but musically mature. The rigour of debate on the front line requires some level of experience.

That said, we should respect his views and let him support whomever he wants. Everyone should support whomever they want and this should be okay. I think we should judge him on his ability to debate and defend his arguments rather than who he supports. Tamale Mirundi and Andrew Mwenda are people with a big following. They share one thing in common. They are very smart at getting their arguments across whether it is a lie or not…they craft it convincingly. You have to respect them for that. This is the skill that Bebe Cool needs to work on – The ability to put your point across convincingly.

Again, on further reflection…I think NBS was right to bring Bebe Cool. He represents so many people in our society and it should be part of their programming to give them a platform so that debates are not only left to political elites. Sometimes…if not most times, it is a good and wise thing to listen in to what people like Bebe cool are saying. It gives you a better impression of what many others think. They are Ugandans and have every right to express themselves. The space should be open for all…this is Uganda…that is its beauty and burden…that we have to bear with each others strengths and weaknesses. It is this mix, not the separation that makes Uganda.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Africa Tembelea’s editorial stance.

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