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Look Out Pelley, Muir And Holt. Rapping Reporters Could Give You A Jolt

Zoe Kabuye, 14, is a star "rap-orter" on the rapping Ugandan show <em>NewzBeat</em>.
Courtesy of Newz Beat
Zoe Kabuye, 14, is a star "rap-orter" on the rapping Ugandan show NewzBeat.

Scott Pelley earnestly delivers the news.

Jimmy Fallon slow jams the news.

Move over, boys. Zoe Kabuye has both of you beat. She's only 14 and she's a star of the Ugandan news scene, where she doesn't just report current events – she raps about them. Kabuye is one of the self-proclaimed "rap-orters" and "newsicians" on NewzBeat, a weekly show in Uganda, which broadcasts all the news that'll fit into a rap.

And she'll bust some rhymes on just about any topic.

On Uganda's plastic bag ban:

Major supermarket chains have shared more good news

From now on recyclable paper is the only bag they will use.

On youth unemployment:

Even with a degree or diploma

Finding work is still a drama.

On AFRIPads, the reusable sanitary pads that help girls stay in school when they have their period (her rap starts at 4:17 in the clip below):

Women and girls are often facing discrimination

Over the simple issue of menstruation.

NewzBeat began airing in 2014 on and now has an audience of about 160,000. The show is partly funded and supported by , a consulting firm that seeks to improve the media in East Africa.

Kabuye joined in 2014 after she met rapping newswoman Sharon Bwogi, aka Lady Slyke, who told her about the show. Bwogi, who's 28, teaches Uganda's youth how to rap in workshops across the country.

Kabuye is especially proud of a rap report on the Day of the African Child last month. It looked at the challenges facing youngsters in her own country:

Ugandans love to make children too.

But sometimes they don't follow through

Leave them behind and forget to put them in school

The government has built infrastructure

But beating children is still part of the modern culture

The good news is violence against children is becoming a thing of the past

And the change is coming very fast.

"I can rap anywhere, even if I'm sleeping," says Kabuye, when asked how she fits it in alongside school and homework.

Kabuye, who is working on her first album, says she is most passionate about rapping on challenges faced by teenage girls in Uganda, like early pregnancy, which she called their "main problem."

She frequently raps alongside Bwogi, 28.

The new kid on the NewzBeat scene is Bwogi's nine-year-old daughter, Zion Sheebah.

In mid-June, Sheebah made her first appearance on NewzBeat as a youth affairs correspondent.

Like Kabuye, she practices in her bedroom, coming up with her own "news."

"Zion was rapping about how she wakes up and cleans and then goes out to meet her friends," says Bwogi.

"She was talking about a lot of things, I was like, 'Okay you can freestyle!'"

And she's definitely got potential. Here's one of Zion Sheebah's raps:

Children all around the world need to be loved

Taken good care of and cherished every day

They can be agents of change in our daily struggle

And all the deeds we juggle.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Amy Fallon
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
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