WILDCARD WEDNESDAYS: ON MUSIC WITH A MESSAGE AND SOCIAL ACTIVISM

Dark Hand in Heavy Chains

I am sure by now that you are acquainted with the #BlackLivesMatter after the wanton killing of young black men that are mostly unarmed . This movement first gained prominence  after the shooting of Trayvon Martin who was shot dead even though he was unarmed.The young man’s death led to the Million Hoodie March which was a portrayal of the young man in his dying moments. You will now find his example being used in songs such as Glory and even Beyonce’s Formation. This movement is causing America to have discussions over the race issue that has long plagued the country.

Let’s bring it closer home,shall we? Music has been used for many things – to entertain educate and also pass a message. Let’s explore how music has been used to bring about social change in Kenya.

ERIC WAINAINA-NCHI YA KITU KIDOGO

Let’s face it Eric Wainaina is the poster child for Kenyan Patriotism. If you are a 90s baby you definitely remember the song Nchi Ya Kitu Kidogo. The year was 2001 when corruption had blatantly started rearing its ugly head. The cast in the video featured the comedy trio Redykulass and KJ ( who now works in government) kicks off the video by outlining all the problems that were plaguing the country back then.I recall power rationing during the April holidays.Let me tell you kids of today don’t know how good they have it.This was a very bold move because our President at the time was not as forgiving as today’s leaders are. What is so sad is that the situation has gotten much worse I mean look at the Chickengate Scandal, the NYS drama…so sad.

NB:Interesting factoid 2 out of the 3 Redykulass members serve in the current government.Wonder if they remember this song.

WAKENYA PAMOJA- VARIOUS ARTISTS

2007 post election violence is a time that I would never want to see anyone go through again.There was tension before the elections nbut it blew up when there was a dispute after the two main parties PNU and ODM ran and it was unclear who won.Let it be said that tribes took sides and what happened next was akin to a civil war. People massacred each other,properties destroyed and people were forced to flee their homes leading to the term IDPs (Internally Displaced People) within our own borders. The country was raw and bleeding like an open wound and at that time we were looking for a healing balm. Well, artists came together and composed a song that reminded us of who we were/are. The remarkable thing about this song is that though it had a lot of artists on it and it was recorded and written in such a short time  the end product was amazing.(The song not so much the video). It is still relevant today and I think we should start playing it again as a reminder of who we are as we  near 2017.

JULIANI- UTAWALA

Juliani is an artist that has managed to do the one thing we at The Bar are always craving to see-  ‘evolve’. From being part of the group Ukoo Flani to branching out as a solo artist to doing gospel then ‘secular’ music to being an activist outside of his music. A song that still gets major airplay and resonates with everyone is ‘Utawala’. It is a song that urges us as Kenyans to take charge of our country ‘Sitasimama maovu yakitawala’ (I will not stand by while evil prevails). The reason this song is so powerful is because it remeinds us that we the people are responsible for the leaders that we have and that we have the power to change the things that aren’t right. Let’s not forget the awesome production of this song and the video that featured ordinary Kenyans. Stellar.

JUST A BAND- MATATIZO

‘Dedicated to the memory of Issa Juma (composer of this song), and all the Kenyans who gave their hearts and bodies so their children could be free.’I do not know much about the Nyayo House torture chambers but I hear it was bad.Terrible.Just after the attempted 1982 coup the situation was volatile.Everyone was a suspect. You could get thrown in there just for mentioning someone’s name even though you had no idea who they were and what they did. Prisoners would endure hot pinpricks, burning cigarette butts, and steaming water sprayed on one’s private parts, spend the night with snakes and safari ants as their companions.

Not much has been divulged about this part of Kenya’s history but Just A band did justice with the video.You should definitely check it out.

TUMECHOKA- SARABI,MUFASA, TEAR DROPS, JULIANI AND MAJI MAJI

Well well if you look at the names above you have to agree it is an impressive line up. Basically a song that says Tumechoka ( We are tired). It is a wake up call that I believe that our leaders should take seriously. Someone said that the coming elections may not be a war between tribes but between the haves and the have nots…Very sobering. I love how the video tells the story,now THAT’S what I am talking about.

ART ATTACK- SAME LOVE

Do you know of the song ‘Same Love’ by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert? Well maybe you are more familiar with the Kenyan ‘Same Love’ Remix by Art Attack who I will choose to believe covered the original. Well let me say this in today’s world love is a very sensitive subject to discuss especially when it comes to gender issues. Art Attack raised quite a storm with the video to same love blatantly advocating for the rights of the LGBT community to love whoever they will choose to love. I have many issues with this ranging from the actual music production to the video to copyrights down to the way that they chose to communicate their messsage. In my opinion I would be more accepting if this was tastefully done…but it is what it is. Fighting for your rights is a balance between getting what you want while not turning the whole world against you.

 

Who do you think should have featured in this article?

Yours truly,

RED

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