Where Are The Songs For Our Coming Revolution?

I wince with displeasure every time I have to watch another section of Kenyans demonstrate on the streets of our major towns. Not because I do not support their cause or understand their plight. Far from it. My displeasure comes from the fact that I have to listen once again to a song which should have by now, been stored away in the cliche cabinet.

Solidarity forever!

Solidarity forever!

On and on it goes. First with the teachers, then with the doctors, enter the nurses and right behind them another group of civil servants. Even University students, disgruntled private sector staff and politicians flaunting alliances, find reason to sing Solidarity - a song once thought to be the reserve of labour Unions.

Where are the songs for our coming revolution?

The songs we can sing not just on the streets but in in our homes when we look at our unga reserves dwindle. The songs we can sing while we do our laundry and ponder on the next move that will keep us alive?

Where are the songs that annoy our government so much, it wouldn’t want them played on radio?

Why do we instead sing songs to mock other tribes? Songs that insult their cultural beliefs and their very identity. Why do we compose songs that highlight our tribal differences and inspire ethnic hate?

And not the songs we sing in church. Not the praise songs whose tune we maintain and lump new words on in a poor attempt at creativity. Not the songs from that holy place. Let’s keep those for God, and upon our victory, we can praise him without getting the words mixed up.

Where are the songs that will wake us up to the reality of our current situation?

The songs that will carry in one chorus,  the ills of our current political class, the shame of our slowly growing economy and the silence of a lower class, whose lips are caked with the dust and odour of our slums.

Where are the songs that will enlighten our educated middle-class?

Songs that will challenge their pursuit of luxuries as mere vanity. Songs that they can teach their children, while narrating in pride and not shame, where they have come from and where they should never return. Songs that will summarize all the clever words that make our placards so heavy.

Where are the beautiful songs we can sing together? Songs that won’t pit one tribe against the other? Or the rich against the poor. The songs we can sing in groups while we go about our work under the sun? Where are the songs that will bring us to tears, or jolt our fists upright. The songs that will make us rise up and defend our dignity while we thump our chest in a show of might.  The songs that will bring us to shout IYAA!! or OYEE!! like we do at every rugby tournament our countrymen take part in.

Our National Anthem will not do. It isn’t enough. We can do better.

It is not a lack of talent.

There are those who have tried to compose such songs, but few can recite ALL the words to Eric Wanaina’s Nchi Ya Kitu Kidogo or Kenya Only. Jaguar may have tried to explain our complex situation in sheng, but Kigeugeu is nothing but a club hit to the majority of us.

Even with the political freedoms we now enjoy, the freedoms of speech and self expression that are now upheld unlike they were in the former regime, few are the artistes who will pen down songs that inspire unity, peace or change.

Who will compose the songs for our coming revolution? And not just any songs. Songs that are easy to grasp. Simple songs. Songs that everybody can sing. And when those songs come to be, who will put them all together and teach us so that we may in turn, teach our children.

Songs of our coming revolution.

“So They Didn’t Kill Them?”

Ed: It might help to read: “They killed them?” first

It’s funny how things pan out, isn’t it?

I had called John as we left my mothers apartment building and told him to come pick us up from the road outside. Even he seemed confused as to why I would wait for him outside. The thing is, we needed to go to the shop right outside to buy pesticides and some other item I forget so it only made sense. By the time we got down and had purchased the goods, he would be there. Or so we thought.

We had to wait a few minutes. Couldn’t have possibly been 10 minutes but a lot can happen in 10 minutes. A lot can happen in 2 minutes in fact; and I’ll give you an example. In two minutes, a motorcycle with 3 young men on it can ride by you. The man behind the handles can pull out a duct taped pistol (looked like a 9mm) as two others begin to offload you of…well, everything. They can get in your pockets and that of the lady behind you and pick everything they can carry off you. Then they can ride off and leave you destitute. Then you will remember every smart idea you had two minutes earlier for two minutes afterwards.

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Wangari Maathai, Charity Ngilu, Martha Karua: Political Moments and the Legacies of ‘Mama’

“Leadership is not simply a matter of filling the top positions in a government. Nor is it a quality restricted to the ambitious, the elite, the politically gifted, or the highly educated. Indeed, not every person in a leadership position is truly a leader” – Wangari Maathai, ‘The Challenge For Africa’ (2009).

A good place to start would be the 1997 General Elections. Charity Ngilu, who was already a household name after capturing the Kitui central in Kenya’s first ever multiparty elections held in 1992, announced that she would be running for the presidency on a Social Democratic Party (SDP) ticket. “Ma saa na Ngilu”, for those who remember. We all cheered for this gallant politician who arrested our imagination when she stormed out of Mwai Kibaki’s Democratic Party (DP) and boldly struck out for the country’s top job despite a relatively short career in politics. And then, several months to the election, Wangari Maathai, too, announced that she was vying for the top job. The results? Moi won, of course. Kibaki came second, Raila, third and Ngilu managed a respectable 5th place, one notch higher than the late Martin Shikuku. As for Maathai, she came third from last in those elections with 0.07% of total votes cast.

With today’s news that Charity Ngilu will be seeking the presidency in the 2013 General Elections, one cannot help but feel that history is somewhat repeating itself. Martha Karua, the proverbial long-distance runner, launched her presidential bid a couple of years ago, and has been on the campaign trail ever since. Now Karua has company in the form of ‘Mama Rainbow’. It may be political naivete to ask, but would anyone serious about campaigning for the presidency launch a bid with only five months to the polls? Prior to her campaign announcement, wasn’t she on record that she would support Raila’s presidential ambitions? These questions may seem to you, rhetoric or a display of my ignorance, but allow me to continue.

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On Rudisha, Kitum and the 2024 Olympic Bid

David Rudisha World Record

The man pictured above is a beast. A godly beast.

There are 2 things to note about that picture. The first is the man pointing at that world record; a humble and proud man who has done a formidable thing. The second is that flag. That country he bears on his back, that covers his identity, that Kenyan flag.

Last night, Rudisha quite literally had the entire country on his back. We needed that victory. We needed that gold medal. And boy did he deliver; in such spectacular fashion. Gold. World Record. Olympic record. Three in one.

Not to be overshadowed was the 17 year old running beside him.

Kitum Rudisha

Timothy Kitum ran his ass off and took that bronze. Not a small feat for that age. When I was 17, I think my greatest achievement could be measured in how many shots I took the night before without blacking out. This kid just ran 800m in 1:42. That’s formidable. And Kenya recognized that. With Kemboi’s hugs still fresh in our minds, that national anthem played last night in its original capacity as a lullaby.

Kenya slept well.

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Hug Like a Champion

Ezekiel Kemboi won our lovely country its first gold medal in the London 2012 Olympics. It was an ecstatic moment, not just for all Kenyans but for Kemboi himself. Certainly, no one foresaw the celebration that would follow Kemboi’s victory. Some have called it an embarrassing show of bromance.., which can be forgiven given that Kenyans were really praying to register their first gold medal at the games. Kemboi delivered.., not just the gold, but a show as well.

While we can’t show you how to dance like Kemboi,  we can at least show you how to hug like only he can.

So first..,

Run like you stole something

Two..,

Win.., but don’t smile just yet.

Three..,

Play dead.., to confuse your enemies.

Four..,

Ask God to forgive you for what you’re about to do

Five…,

Get up and do the dance of your people

Six..,

Find an unsuspecting French guy and pretend you want to shake hands

Seven..,

Suddenly jump on the French guy.., shirtless.

Eight..,

Give the French guy your shirt and let him swing it in the air.., like you just don’t care!

Nine..,

*cough* “Okay kids, cover your eyes”

Ten..,

Wear your mate’s shirt with a name most Kenyans cannot pronounce

And that’s how to hug like a champion.

But if it’s too much for you..,

You can always air out stuff.

The New Kenya: “Children of The Fifth Monkey”

Sometimes enlightenment beams through the oddest crevices.

I was reading a book by David Thorne, a renowned internet troll, where he sarcastically called one of his coworkers something to the effect of “Harlow’s fifth monkey” for blatantly following rules without questioning them.

For those not familiar with Harlow’s monkey experiment, it goes something like this (and I’m paraphrasing).

He took 5 monkeys and put them at the bottom of the stairs and then put a bananaat the top. When one monkey approached the stairs, all 5 got sprayed with ice water. This was repeated until none of the monkeys tried to get the banana and resolved to remaining warm and dry. At this point, one of the monkeys was replaced with a new monkey. When this monkey went for the banana, the other 4 beat the sh** out of it. It was never sprayed. After this monkey was thrashed once or twice, yet another of the original 5 was substituted for a new one and it was yet again thrashed. The other monkey joined in to this monkey ass whooping with even more enthusiasm and vigor than the original four. No spraying. They replaced the third monkey to the same outcome; no monkey dared approach that damn banana. Eventually the fourth and fifth monkeys were also phased out slowly and initiated with the violent orientation whenever they approached the banana.

A new 6th monkey was introduced. And although none of the 5 monkeys that had been sprayed were there, the 5 in their place still handily dished out a thrashing to the new monkey when it tried to go for the banana. They had no reason to. They didn’t know about the water sprays and the cold that came with them. They didn’t know that they actually could have the banana now. Instead they made sure all other monkeys stayed in line. What line though, is questionable.

I read that and think of this.

 

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