I'm on a crowded, hot, scary bus and over the PA they are playing the most awful, sugary, cheesy, American commercial boy-band music. The man beside me, a weathered soldier who has been in the army for 14 years, has his eyes closed and is rocking his head to it. Everywhere I go, expecting to hear cool African music, I hear the worst western commercial drivel, the stuff that you and I can't stand.
And they love it. They love country (Africa's "So You Think You Can Dance" is called "Lets Dance" and regularly features black people in sequined cowboy hats and western boots line dancing..... I s**t you not). They love sappy ballads, like that terrible "Power of Love" song from the 80's, it's everywhere. Nightclubs often Play Kenny G!!!! If it wasn't for the occassional Marley, Marvin, and Prince that they do play, my ears would fall off.
The whole bus was funking to 'Uptown Girl'. WTF? They do love Lil Wayne, but I was starting to get tired of him when I left home.
Even worse, many Ugandans seem ignorant of African music. No one I've met knows who Yossou N'dour or Amadou & Miriam even are. They know who Miriam Mkeeba is, but like Queen Latefah, no one listens to her music.
The African taste in movies is just as bad. Everyone's favorite movies are either 'Rush Hour', 'Sky High', or 'Big Momma'. No one knows Chris Rock or Pacino, but Jackie Chan is god. They know Depp only as Cap'n Jack, one guy I met thinks he actually is a pirate.
I watched some 'Nollywood' films, popular English language features from Nigeria. They were at the level of production of a Rogers Cable show and put me to sleep like two Ativan.
It all became clear when I gave 'I'm Not There', the surreal Dylan biopic to my travelling companions. They had never heard of Dylan, didn't like the music, and barely made it 1/2 way through the film. They hated it.
Forget saving orphans or food aid, someone needs to micro-loan these people some decent media.