Musicians from the Mt Kenya region will censor themselves when they release political songs supporting 2022 succession formations.
They will rely on “clear guidelines” to promote peace, unity and stability in Kenya.
The pledge was made by Talented Musicians and Composers Sacco chairman Epha Maina, who added that “musicians in the region now realise that this election will be different, since what is being sought is the broader common good and the stakes are high”.
Mr Maina said the musicians — secular and gospel, as well as all other categories of performing arts — must realise their talent can now foster the common good or burn the country.
“There are no sanctions imposed on who to sing for and what to sing about. We are not interested in whose side one is on, because it is a democratic right to belong to a wing and a civic duty to vote according to passions,” he said.
“But the bottom line is that as we pursue those contracts and lyrics to record and publish, holding the country and its people together should be the goal.”
Lack of evidence
The music industry, he said, has in past elections been used badly to pursue criminal politics that pits regions, personalities and communities against one another.
In past elections, popular Mt Kenya musicians like the late John Demathew, Kamande Wa Kioi and Muigai wa Njoroge were arrested and charged with hate speech, though they were all acquitted for lack of evidence.
Among the big names in the region’s music industry are Mr Maina, Ben Githae, Jane Muthoni, Jose Gatutura, Samidoh, Joyce wa Mama, Wangari wa Kabera, Kariuki wa Kiarutara, Loise Kim, Kawhite Mwana wa White, Martin wa Janet, Gachathi wa Thuo, Kui wa Ng’ang’a, Hezeh Ndung’u, Elizabeth Nyambere and Chege wa Willy.
The region’s music fraternity are now mostly split between those backing the President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga (Handshake) wing and those for Deputy President William Ruto.
Others are being recruited to sing for local politicians who have vowed to go it alone and contest the presidency, among them Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and businessman Jimmy Wanjigi.
“This time round we want all the crooners to be very sensitive and the law enforcement teams to be very vigilant. We must not act in a way that shames our diversities of tribe, culture and belonging,” Mr Maina said.
“We must behave in a way that projects that we first acknowledge we are Kenyans with a responsibility of helping the country hold together.”
Veteran accordion player Gathia Kagimbi told Nation.Africa that “beautiful deals” are already being floated to the music fraternity, mostly from the Handshake wing of politics, and its most solid opposition in Mt Kenya, the “Hustler Movement”.
Samidoh, who has a huge fan base on the Mt Kenya secular music scene, has declared publicly that he is not interested in using his popularity to advance biased positions. He has also said that his fans are free to follow their conscience in making voting decisions.
“Mine is to soothe their hearts as they go about their daily life. I am not inclined to any position in politics and it is better left as such,” he said.
For Mr Kioi, he has released a song in praise of Dr Ruto, imploring Mt Kenya residents to treat the United Democratic Alliance boss as their son.
On the other end, Kimani wa Turraco has released a song in praise of the Handshake team, with former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth calling on as many others as possible to come out and record songs in praise of the Handshake.
“We have in the past had music that captures historic moments. We have had music that seeks to bring our people together under political positions. I call upon many others now to record and capture the Handshake team as a historic moment,” he said at a meeting of musicians and Mr Odinga at the home of Royal Media Services’ SK Macharia in Gatanga on July 28.
Mr Macharia had hosted Mt Kenya politicians allied to the Handshake wing together with musicians. Mr Odinga was the chief guest and was endorsed as the 2022 presidential aspirant.
Mr Githae, who says he is reeling under negative fame owing to his 2016 song “Tano Tena” that mobilised people to vote for the current Jubilee administration, warns that “political crooning can make or break a musician”.