East London-born musician and former clinical psychologist, Mthetho Tshemese (also known as The Village Shrink) has taken a stand to raise awareness about positive masculinity, through music with various artists in the slums of Uganda, he plans to fight the scourge of gender-based violence against women and children.
Tshemese collaborated with many artists including top Ugandian songwriter Blackskin to produce a theme song entitled “Wise Up”. The song was created for the Slum Aid project, which is an organisation based in Kampala, Uganda supported by UN Women.
“The song is targeted at men in Uganda and Africa to wise up and do what is just and right in eradicating violence against women and girls,” said Tshemese.
The genre of his music is Umculo Buciko, which is a subgenre of Spaza hip hop music. Besides the theme songs, alongside other artists, Tshemese recorded an additional song titled “So abusive”. He also adds that positive masculinity i aimed at eradicating teenage pregnancy and arranged marriages that continue to exist in the slums.
The artist opened up about his violent neighbourhood of Mdantsane that he grew up in that compelled him to pursue a career in psychology and ultimately music to heal society from its ills. He said that the process of Initiation numbed young men to pain and taught them that they should withstand pain because society does not have space for their feelings.
Blackskin said: “Ugandans still need to be sensitized and they need to be educated about early pregnancies and marriage. I have lived in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and in Sudan, but when you try to teach people without options, it becomes difficult”.
Rose Gawaya, the founder of the Slum Aid project said: “Wise up is a song about violence against women. It is a project funded by the UN Women in Uganda under the European spotlight initiative on addressing violence against women and children”.
She added that Tshemese was engaged to produce music which is being used as a social mobilisation tool to mobilise men to promote positive masculinities that can prevent violence against women and girls in the slums of Uganda.
Head of United Nations Uganda, Dr Maxime Houinato, said the pressing issues in the slums of Uganda were violence, denial of opportunity, power and dominance exhibited by men and boys.
“These cushion all the attempts towards the empowerment of women. It is an urban jungle where survival depends on physical power and territorial dominance. Men and boys have a lot of influence in these slums that if well harnessed and redirected, life can be better for women and girls,” commented Houinato.
In addition to raising awareness, Tshemese is also shooting season 2 of his TV show, The Village Shrink, which will focus on positive masculinity, violence prevention, and building a movement of men who will take the fight against femicide, GBV and rape.