So this morning Sauti Sol shared their thoughts on Kenyan political scene with a fitting image of group member Bien Aime calmly sipping a drink.
“TIBIM, TIALALA & TANO TENA are all empty slogans with no data and development records attached to them. A critical mass of this country is simply uneducated that’s why these things turn us on. But to be honest why aren’t these battles about manifestos and track records? In this country as long as you have money you can fart and people will cheer.”
All hell broke loose.
Even though they echoed what many young Kenyans feel (9.9k likes upward), the vitriol was swift and scathing with the general sentiment that they should stick to what they do best, which is entertainment. Others were rubbed wrong by the statement that a large section of the population is ‘uneducated’.
The truth hurts much? There a real issue to be addressed and perhaps the vitriol is better directed at the guys at the top. Recently, Professor Wandia Njoya stated that reading the comment section of her Facebook posts has shown her: “many schooled Kenyans are unable to argue. They can’t follow logic, respond logically using information, or discuss without taking disagreement personally”.
The post was not done without thought, people in entertainment just like those in the business community have been affected by the political climate, it’s been a dry couple of months and many are fed up and no amount of political slogans will fix that.
‘Kama wee ni MC stick to the Wax’
Let’s be real, Kenyans should stop acting like art is, and should never be political. Eric Wainaina was practically thrown off stage for singing and speaking out against Moi’s government, Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela had to live in exile during the apartheid era. Music and poetry was used to transmit messages and bolster support for the independence struggle during the colonial era. Art imitates life and will always be somehow reflective of the political climate of the times. The fact that artists are always dealt with so severely, think Ken Sarowiwa, should tell you something about the power of art and the fear those in power have of it.
But that Burundi trip…
On the other hand, Sauti Sol’s recent trip to Burundi did raise some cognitive dissonance, pictures of them dining and being welcomed by the government representatives spurred an open letter by Burundian fan Ketty Nivyabandi questioning how they can sit down and break bread with an oppressive administration that has seen more than 500,000 Burundians flee the country ( Read it here).
Kenyans did not catch feelings over this, in fact many congratulated them on social media when pictures of them being welcomed by the government were posted. It just goes to show you how deeply entrenched we are within our own bubble. While there are lessons to be learned from countries like Burundi, we are more offended by people attacking our political slogans than we are by what is happening in neighbouring countries because hey, that could never happen to us right?
Granted,it is a sensitive time and to be honest, and maybe creatively addressing the issue through music may have been more fitting, but this idea that artists “should stick to the wax” is misplaced. Being woke means much more than wearing a T-shirt or listening to Bob Marley, being woke means being ready to lose some fans because you have taken a stand for the common good (see Eminem), being woke means being aware of what you put out and the impact it has. In a country where we believe all of everything we read on gossip blogs written by misogynists, it’s about time our artists started waking up and standing for something.
If this is the beginning of that journey for Sauti Sol, I am here for it. You can continue to ‘ma-tippy toe’ with the rest of them about our issues as a country and a continent, but maybe it’s time for this generation to wake up and stay woke because the mess you ignore is the same mess you will be forced to clean up.
*logical comments are welcome 😉