What you need to know:
- A case in point is the award-winning Rafiki film, banned in Kenya by Dr Mutua but extolled in the world.
- Dr Mutua is currently under investigation over alleged payment of irregular salaries and allowances by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
It’s no secret that the fall from grace of the self-declared moral police, Ezekiel Mutua, was predicted and celebrated by many creatives and artists he had traumatised in the name of moralising entertainment.
The ‘Deputy Jesus’ as he was derisively referred to by those opposed to his unholy mission, was the judge, jury and executioner of every single attempt made by creatives and artists in the entertainment industry to explore and depict our societal norms, values, vices and way of life. A case in point is the award-winning Rafiki film, banned in Kenya by Dr Mutua but extolled in the world.
Dr Mutua is currently under investigation over alleged payment of irregular salaries and allowances by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
Long time coming
For a long time, Dr Mutua went beyond his stipulated mandate and responsibilities as portrayed in the Films and Stage Plays Act, cap 222, to terrorise, instil fear, and demonise art and its expression.
He dimmed efforts of creatives to express through art, music and other forms of entertainment their truth, their lenses and perceptions of what and how art should be portrait. He stifled self-made artists who endured harsh upbringings to make it, like Eric Omondi, who is so successful that he has put Kenya on the international platforms in comedy.
Dr Mutua created a state of fear among rising creatives and artists by introducing his religious moralistic angle to performing arts unnecessarily. He Christianised the whole industry by forcefully choking them with his religious dogma, forgetting that the constitution he’s bound to clearly states that Kenya has no state religion (Article 8 of the Constitution of Kenya). While our constitution advocates for freedom of conscience, belief, and religion, Article 32 does not guarantee that one weaponises their freedom of religion against others. I honestly deduce that we might have as well christened the Kenya Film Classification Board a Bible study club for the better part of his tenure!
If anything, Dr Mutua subverted Article 33 by stifling freedom of artistic creativity and freedom. Art expresses the aspirations and current realities of our society. He chose to mute and censor these aspirations by staying stuck in the medieval view of art and creativity.
There are many such Dr Mutuas in our current leadership. Those who occupy public spaces abuse those offices and impose on people their dogma. Those who make those who elected them in office and leave us perpetually at their mercy. We must not elect these ones we are heading to 2022; if they get elected, we must vehemently oppose their occupation of public offices.
I hope this experience will be a lesson to Dr Mutua and his ilk to seek to find a balance when occupying state offices that have a regulatory function, being careful not to overstate their mandate, and not to abuse office. And to our creatives, continue creating. However, be cognisant of the impact and power you possess to change narratives, behaviours, perceptions and even realities of those who look up to you, especially the youth.
Dr Stellah Bosire is a medical doctor, human rights activist and law student.