Fresh off his meeting with President Trump last week, Kanye West—along with Kim Kardashian and their two young children—headed to Uganda to ostensibly begin work on his new album Yandhi, which Ye announced will be recorded on the continent. Ye’s first stop was Uganda, where he took in the sights, met with elected officials including President Yoweri Museveni, and continued throwing Yeezys at everyone he meets— not, thankfully, while sporting a colonial-era pith helmet à la Melania Trump. Then again, Ye’s trip makes the first lady’s seem positively normal by comparison.
Ye’s trip was organized by none other than Snapchat star YesJulz, a white social media influencer and music manager who put together Ye’s Wyoming album release party last year. YesJulz—real name: Julieanna Goddard—has also come under fire for her definitely-not-PC comments, including the time she tweeted out a picture of a T-shirt with the N-word on it, captioned, “So…am I allowed to wear this shirt at the festival tomorrow or nah.” With her knockoff Amber Rose haircut and consistent appropriation of black culture, YesJulz is definitely more problematic than philanthropic—and definitely a poor choice for a travel agent. But Page Six reports that Ye was apparently so impressed with the way Julz organized his Wyoming album release party that he decided to have her “facilitate” his trip to a complex East African country—one that his pal Trump would no doubt refer to as a “shithole.”
After shooting a video for Yandhi in Murchison Falls National Park, Ye headed to Entebbe with Kim to meet with President Museveni. In typical Kanye fashion, he quickly turned what could have been an influential meeting into a PR nightmare. “We’re not here to take a photograph and look like we’re doing something positive,” Ye says to Museveni in video obtained by TMZ. “I’m here to be here, and work with you.”
While discussing possible tourist attractions for Uganda (the main theme of West and Kardashian’s visit), Ye excitedly told Museveni, “this is going to be like Jurassic Park or Disney World,” an allusion the Ugandan president didn’t immediately understand, but seemed enthusiastic about regardless. Ye also told Museveni he wanted to turn Uganda into Wakanda, the fictional African nation from Black Panther. And when the subject of the couple’s children came up, a serious Ye also mentioned he wanted to have seven kids with Kim, who politely demurred—probably due to the fact that her past few pregnancies were plagued with dangerous medical conditions like preeclampsia.
At the end of their meeting, TMZ reports that Ye gifted Museveni a pair of white Yeezy sneakers—the same move he pulled when visiting Trump last week. After posing for photos, Ye and Kim awkwardly signed the sneakers as Museveni held them—because that’s apparently what you do when you’re an American celebrity giving a gift to a foreign president, one with a less-than-stellar track record when it comes to human rights.
Museveni is notorious for his support and implementation of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, which makes homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment—a downgrade from the original punishment for gay marriage, which was death. The law was later thrown out, but anti-gay discrimination remains rampant in Uganda. Museveni is, generally speaking, not a nice guy—he routinely arrests and harasses his opposition, and has even abolished the age limit for Ugandan presidents encoded in the country’s constitution to extend his rule, a move that Trump has expressed interest in “trying.” It’s all old hat for Ye, though, who seems poised to eclipse even Dennis Rodman as “celebrity with the most dictator friends.”
After their meeting with Museveni, the Kardashian-West clan headed to the village of Masulita, courtesy of the president’s private helicopter, for a charity event at an orphanage there. A large group of children had assembled to meet the famous duo, whose arrival caused an uproar. TMZ reports that after some musical entertainment—the children sang for Ye and Kim, and Ye returned the favor by spitting some bars of his own and sharing a few new tracks—the couple began handing out suitcases full of Yeezy sneakers to the children there. There’s also reports that Ye and Kim donated fresh Beats By Dre speakers to the orphanage.
While the children, predictably, went wild, the duo’s attempt at some heartwarming gestures read more out of touch than philanthropic. At least Melania didn’t try to push a whole batch of MAGA hats on some unsuspecting African children.
Ye’s trip to Uganda is bizarre on several levels. Obviously, there’s the disconnect between his outspoken support for our racist president and his desire to give back to African communities, as well as his convoluted views on the 13th Amendment and slavery. But Ye, for his part, seems to think that he’s being guided by important black artists from the past; in an inexplicable rant posted to Instagram Saturday night, Ye said “the spirit of Fela [Kuti], the spirit of [Bob] Marley, the spirit of [Tu]Pac [Shakur]… they flow through me.”
Seun Kuti, son of the revolutionary Afrobeat artist and Nigerian activist, didn’t appreciate Ye’s appropriation of his father’s legacy. Kuti took to Instagram to clarify: “I want to state that the spirit of Olufela Anikulapo Kuti isn’t anywhere near Kanye West.”
– Libby Torres I The Daily Beast