Beenie Gunter’s Dubai arrest exposes weak support systems for Ugandan artists

Beenie Gunter's Dubai arrest exposes weak support systems for Ugandan artists
Ugandan reggae-dancehall music artist Baguma Crescent, alias Beenie Gunter.

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | Ugandan music artist Baguma Crescent, popularly known as Beenie Gunter has expressed disappointment over being abandoned by fellow industry members when he was arrested in Dubai.

Gunter shared last weekend that despite reaching out for assistance from friends and even the Uganda National Musicians Federation (UNMF) leadership, he received no support.

Beenie Gunter had been booked for performances in the UAE, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi.

On Sunday, January 21, 2024, the Tubayo singer, Beenie Gunter, was arrested at a Dubai airport while checking in to board a plane to travel back to Uganda alongside his girlfriend Nickie Berry, who was on a different counter and had already checked in so she couldn’t cancel her flight.

The Guntalk boss, while in Abu Dhabi, it is alleged that he got into a scuffle with event promoters, an incident that attracted the attention of local authorities due to the reportedly vandalized property where the owner was seeking compensation, hence his arrest.

Despite clarifying to the authorities and subsequent CCTV footage confirming his intervention to break up the fight, Gunter found himself detained in three different jails across Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Subsequently released on bond, Gunter faced legal proceedings for allegedly participating in the altercation instead of contacting the police. He was fined 5,000 dirhams by the Abu Dhabi authorities (approximately UGX 5 million shillings), as a condition for his release.

Throughout this challenging ordeal, Beenie Gunter revealed that he sought assistance from his Ugandan friends, but unfortunately, they were unwilling to provide support.

Specifically, he recounted pleading with Eddy Kenzo, the President of UNMF, to secure his release, but his appeals reportedly went unanswered.

When I was released from jail to start going to court from home, I was able to reach out to Kenzo because I thought he was my friend, but it seems I was wrong…. I spoke to him several times on WhatsApp but in the end, he told me that he did not have money.”

Beenie Gunter said.

Following his arrest, Eddy Kenzo released a statement, indicating that he had reached out to the Ugandan Ambassador in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to assist in securing Gunter’s release.

Following recent criticism within the artistic community directed towards the UNMF leadership for not helping out artistes in distress, Beenie Gunter has come out to state that Eddy Kenzo personally contributed Shs 500,000 to him, but not as the Uganda National Musicians Federation (UNMF), an umbrella organization mandated to represent the interests of musicians in Uganda. A development that Gunter didn’t expect.

The Uganda National Musicians Federation (UNMF) is a collaborative effort of musicians, industry stakeholders, and the Ugandan government, aimed at unifying the music industry in Uganda. The Federation brings together all associations in the industry under one umbrella, promoting growth, collaboration, and unity among musicians and stakeholders.

The UNMF claims to champion the interests of artistes in the country, yet it has faced opposition from groups like the Uganda Musicians Association (UMA).

However, according to the singer, he ultimately received support from a select group of close friends and fellow artists, including Crystal Panda, Bobi Wine, Abrianz, Judith Hard and among others.

Fashion Spot: Musician Beenie Gunter Shares Tips on How to Look Good.

Bobi Wine came out to demand for the safe return of fellow artiste Beenie Gunter. He called upon everyone to join voices to demand his safe return home.

“I have also learnt of the detention of musician #BeenieGunter in Abu Dhabi where he apparently had a performance on the weekend. Several artistes from Uganda and Africa have been unfairly detained in the UAE many times in the past. It’s important we join voices to demand that due process is served so that this brother can safely return home.”

Bobi Wine posted on X (formerly) Twitter.

“#FreeBeenieGunter such an innocent soul, free My G,” Crysto Panda posted on X.

Also Read: Three Ugandan artists arrested for producing vulgar music

His fellow artiste Sheebah Karungi also come out to demand the release of Beenie Gunter.

“I can’t imagine being imprisoned in a foreign country! It must be devastating. To the concerned parties, I know you can come to an understanding without prison. FREE Beenie Gunter,” she on X posted.

Ykee Benda also posted asking the Government of Uganda to look into the matter.

“My brother can’t imagine what’s going through your mind in a foreign land…You my prayers ????. With that said, government please let’s look into this matter with urgency and help sort this matter, Beenie is a father, son, brother and friend and also an asset to this nation, let us step up and get our brother home soon,” he posted.

Surprisingly, despite the Uganda National Musicians Federation (UNMF) headed by Eddy Kenzo not coming out strongly to bail out Beenie Gunter, even the Ugandan Embassy in Abu Dhabi reportedly provided no assistance or support during his challenging period in the Middle East.

Beenie Gunter is known for his Reggae-Dancehall songs like; Olina Work, Pon MiNo Letting Go, No Offence, Super Woman, Byaliwo, Sekkle Down, and No Fear, and among many other hit songs.