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Edrine K: Kasese’s Phenomenal Teen Gender, Girl-Child Rights’ Activist

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Edrine Kusemerewa, who goes by the stage name of Edrine K is a song writer, singer and a Gender and Women’s rights activist. Born of Yeres Kyakimwa, a food vendor in Kisanga Market and Seith Kazige, a social worker, Edrine is the fifth born from a family of ten.
Edrine K performing at an Edutech Symposium at Kampala Serena Hotel recently.

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Kasese is one of the districts in Uganda grappling with child abuse, more especially the girl child. The abuse includes defilement, rape, early marriage and discrimination especially in obtaining an education. 

A 2016 report by Isis-WICCE-Uganda an international women’s rights organisation indicated that at least every family in Kasese has a child between the age of 13 and 17 that is either defiled or married off every year.    

This deplorable state of affairs has been attributed to poverty or ignorance and a long period of conflict that Kasese grapples with. Several non-governmental organisations have set up shop in Kasese to fight against the violations and abuse meted on the girl child.  

The child rights activists recently got a boost from 19-year-old, Edrine Kusemererwa alias Edrine K who has added flavor in the women’s rights advocacy campaign through music. She made a breakthrough in 2018 through her song “Get off my Way”, which went viral and has since received more than 25,000 views on her newly-created YouTube Channel.  

Today, she is the most sought after girl-child and women’s rights activist in Kasese. She was invited by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to participate in the recently concluded 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) that was held in Nairobi, Kenya.  

But Who is Edrine K?

 

Edrine Kusemerewa, who goes by the stage name of Edrine K is a song writer, singer and a Gender and Women’s rights activist. Born of Yeres Kyakimwa, a food vendor in Kisanga Market and Seith Kazige, a social worker, Edrine is the fifth born from a family of ten.     

She was born on December 6, 2000 in Saluti Cell in Nyamwamba Division in Kasese municipality in a polygamous family since her father has two wives.  K is a secondary five student of Literature, Economics and Divinity at Bwera Secondary School in Kasese. 

She first studied at St Lawrence School for two years before joining a modest Bwera Secondary where she eventually completed her “Ordinary” level.  The rising star had previously studied her primary at Parental Care Primary School.

Joining Music Industry

K says she has been told by her mother that from the age of five, she started exhibiting interest in singing gospel and secular songs. At the age of ten, she joined St Barnabas Choir at St Barnabas Church of Uganda in Saluti, which she is still part of. 

In 2017, during her senior three, K produced her maiden song, Your Awesome Jesus, a gospel song. According to K, she saved money for about three years to raise Shillings 60,000 to produce the song.  

She adds that singing her original composition and many more songs during prayers at Bwera SS endeared her to many including, Yunasi Baluku, a teacher of Economics at the school and a renowned events emcee who volunteered to mentor her into her music journey.   

She however says that shortly after singing Awesome Jesus, she produced another Gospel song Yesu Ninawe that was intended to bring people nearer to God.

Gender Activism

When K grew up, she says she often saw many young girls being mistreated, discriminated and more specifically defiled, raped and subsequently married off at a very tender age. The songbird says she would also see many girls drop out of school because there was no money to pay their tuition.

Although K doesn’t open up on whether she has been a victim of child abuse or not, she concedes to the fact that there has been a time when her parents didn’t have money to pay her tuition. It is this state of affairs that compelled her to consider writing and doing music that projects the realities of the girl child in Kasese. In fact she had left St Lawrence because the parents couldn’t afford the fees.   

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Shortly after her O’level exams in November 2018, Yunasi Baluku who had committed to being K’s mentor wrote for her the first inspirational song: Get off my Way, which incidentally thrust her in the lime light both in Kasese and across the country. 

In “Get off my Way” K appeals to both state and non-state actors to provide adequate protection to the girl child and facilitate them to acquire their dreams. In the song, she cites eminent persons in the country that young girls look up to. These include the First Lady Janet Museveni, Justice Julia Ssebutinde, Dr. Maggie Kigozi, and Executive Director UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima.  

In fact, K looks up to Byanyima whom she says has been at the fore front of fighting for human rights across the globe.   “Don’t touch me, you liar! Who told you I am ready for love at this time? Who told you my dream is to be called a wife? Why can’t you see I am too young for love at this time? I wanna be a great woman; God is my destiny.” K questions men in one of her stanzas.   

“Whose gonna be my protector, who is gonna be on my side for the battle, the fight is enormous the battle is tight, I am vulnerable with vultures around, they are shameless, they are cunning they are tougher than me; I count on your support to proceed to my destiny.” She adds.

K has since produced about six other songs most of them focusing on the gospel, domestic violence and or advocacy for gender equality and girl child empowerment. She has since done collabos with Heli Esli and Maurice Hassa of the Kaleke Kasome fame. Her latest release is titled “Girl Not a Woman” done with Maurice Hassa. It also cautions men against taking young girls for their wives.

K reveals that she uses music because it is not only easier for her to reach a bigger audience but it also enables her to communicate to all people without necessarily being seen to be disrespectful to elders. 

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The teenager believes that through her advocacy, she will wake up one day to a community that is free of domestic violence, sexism, gender discrimination, early marriages, defilement and rape. She invites the world to work towards creating an environment that enables all persons to work towards achieving their dreams.

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She says that music especially “Get off my Way” has facilitated her to do self-reflection of the kind of person she needs to be in future. She also revealed that because of that song, some people paid her senior five fees saving her and her parents the burden that comes with lack of fees.

  

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To K, it is not just about music, she wants to pursue her studies and study law at university to enable her intensify her advocacy and fight for the protection of rights of women, girls and children.   

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She, however also appeals to all young girls to be the first advocates for their rights, arguing that unless they stand out for themselves, it will be difficult for the rest of the advocates to fight for them. 

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K now has in total eight songs: Get off my Way, Girl not a Woman, Shitani Nikoome, Mummy Come Back, You’re awesome Jesus, Yesu Ninawe and Wake Up. 

What Others Say

Jolly Mbambu is a radio personality and gender activist in Kasese. She says K adds a lot of priceless effort to the fight for the girl child. Mbambu says K comes at a right time when there is need to have the girl child directly involved in the fight for their rights.   

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Winnie Kiiza, the Kasese Woman MP, says such young girls need to be supported so thank their message sinks deeper into all communities and subsequently the entire Africa. 

In one of her posts, the former Leader of Opposition says: “I am dazzled by the time, talent and enthusiasm that “Get off my Way” singer Edrine K and her management have invested in the campaign against early marriages, sexual harassment and the quest for the empowerment of the girl child. Edrine K needs to be supported to live her dream.”

Halima Namakula, a veteran Uganda singer and women rights activists, says Edrine K is a big talent and an asset that needs to be amplified to highlight the plight of the girl child across the entire African Continent.