Grammy-winning Nigerian singer, Temilade Openiyi, also known as Tems, recently opened up about her harrowing ordeal in a Ugandan prison. Tems, along with Omah Lay, found themselves in trouble with the law after appearing at a concert held at Speke Resort in Kampala, Uganda, on December 12th, in apparent violation of COVID-19 social distancing regulations.
During a recent interview with Angie Martinez of Power 105.1 FM in New York, Tems maintained that they had not broken any COVID-19 rules, asserting that the entire situation was a setup. The Oscar-nominated artist described the anxiety she experienced during her imprisonment, where she believed she might not be released, and even began to adapt to her new surroundings.
Tems explained, “We didn’t break the [COVID-19] rules. It was basically like a setup. We went to Uganda; I had a show there. It was during the COVID year, but they had opened things up at that time. They had just had a rally in Uganda. People were going out. It wasn’t on lockdown. It was the aftermath.”
She further detailed how the concert organizers claimed to have obtained the necessary permits and how the situation escalated. The incident led to her and Omah Lay being detained for two nights, leaving her with a sense of uncertainty and fear. Tems thought she might be in jail for a specific purpose, possibly to help those incarcerated, as she contemplated her unexpected situation.
“And the organisers said they had the permit, they sent us the permit. Everything was cool. And went there and there is this particular artist, I’m not sure now what his role was but he was just busy threatening Nigerian artists that they shouldn’t come. And after the show, the police came. They weren’t in uniforms. They just knocked on my hotel room. My manager and I were eating lunch or dinner. And they just came and said we should follow them and my manager was like he would go with them.
“So, he went with them. But they came back upstairs to pick me up. So, it was like who called them? Later, I found out that there was some weird… That was so scary. I spent two nights in prison. I thought I wasn’t gonna come out. I thought maybe I was going through it for a reason. I was like maybe this is for me to help the people in prison. It was crazy, I ain’t gonna lie. I was settling in because I adapt real quick.”