KAMPALA — The American rap artist and singer Akon has defended his dealings with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni amid drawing criticism from rights activists and pro-democracy efforts in Uganda.
Akon was replying to the U.S. based groups Human Rights Foundation and Vanguard Africa who acussed him of helping to rehabilitate President Museveni’s reputation after an election earlier this year marred by violence, an internet shutdown and allegations of vote rigging.
“Museveni has exploited your meeting with him for official propaganda, as his regime seeks to capitalize on your global prestige to whitewash its image and distract from its most recent wave of repression,” the letter says, urging him to “explicitly make clear” that he is not endorsing Museveni.
Asked whether he was worried about being accused of collaborating with an African leader who has spent decades in power, Akon, whose real name is Aliaune Thiam, said: “Not every place in the world is made for democracy.”
The singer added that a group of unnamed investors backing him considered “whatever the people needed. Then it’s our job to support the government to make it happen.”
Museveni said of Akon’s search for business opportunities that he is “happy to engage in such a discussion that will uplift our people and Africa at large.”
Akon’s Uganda plans include a music festival to promote local talent.
Akon has made headlines in recent years as a pan-African businessman interested in opportunities on the continent of 1.3 billion people.
His most ambitious goal is to build a $6 billion utopian city in Senegal that he has described as a “real-life Wakanda,” comparing it to the technologically advanced fictional African place in the blockbuster film “Black Panther.”