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Political & Social Empowerment

HEART OF ACTIVISM IN KENYA HAS GONE TO THE DOGS

{Courtesy of www.alarmy.com}

By many definitions, I am considered a millennial having been born in the epoch between 1981 and 1996. In halcyon times when guys like myself were busy imbibing of nourishing milk off our mothers’ bosoms, Kenya was a throbbing ganglion of activism for the reintroduction of multiparty politics. The start of the Nyayo-era presided over by the eponymously-labeled ‘Professor of Politics’ President Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi coincided with a crackdown on dissidents that opposed his kakistocratic, despotic and corrupt regime. Indeed, the regime had started on what can only be described as a discombobulated footing when like a bolt of lightning out of the clear skies, the Head of State had banned all tribal-based political groupings. He eventually added lighter fluid to the conflagration by declaring Kenya a de-jure (by law) unitary state in June 1982. The fallout from the botched coup in August 1982 saw Pres. Moi go out of his way to curtail all iterations of civil liberty, freedom of thought and conscience adjunct to the reintroduction of detention without trial for anyone adjudicated by the state to be injurious to national peace and cohesion. This loosely translates to anybody that opposed the whims of the state. His regime went out of their way to borrow whole pages from then notorious, blood-thirsty Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu with a whole network that started from national security apparatchiks, intelligence department officers, informers and even a coterie of well-trained Special Branch torture ‘experts.’ The Senator, Hon. James Orengo SC has in recent times recounted the legend of a hefty lady from Central Kenya who manned the giant Pliers, the size of bolt cutters at Nyayo House with a menacing grin. Needless to say, the intention of using that implement was less than pious! This saw an irreverent helping of University Professors, Playwrights, Politically-active students, Innovators, Journalists, Authors, Religious Leaders et.al who did not toe the state line being detained and tortured relentlessly and on the most frivolous of charges. Hence, in no-holds-barred fashion, the golden age of activism had been heralded like never before. Men of solid credentials guided by authentic patriotic zest, enlightenment and the strength of character stood up to be counted even at the expense of life and limb. Heartwarming were the battles our incomparable Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Prof. Wangari Maathai fought to safeguard the existence of Uhuru Park and Karura Forests that were hanging by the width of a mosquito’s gonads as the final vestiges of green on what was formerly regarded as the ‘Green City in the Sun’ – Nairobi. Rev. Timothy Njoya wrote his name in the lights by delivering a fiery sermon against an unfair and thieving regime in the Sunday anterior to the 7th of July 1990. He was now a marked man who on the material day was accosted by several General Service Unit (GSU) officers who clobbered the bejesus out of him. There were others like Rev. Gitari and Rev. Ndingi Mwana a’Nzeki who closed denominational ranks to castigate the collapse of the national economy under the clueless Nyayo regime. Others like Rev. Alexander Muge paid the ultimate price for speaking out against the regime of his tribal kinsman in antipathy to the delusion that is ethnic solidarity. It was certainly a simmering cauldron.

Kenyan Iron-lady, Charity Kaluki Ngilu in full flight from Riot police at the height of Kenya’s Fight for the 2nd Liberation (Courtesy of Daily Nation)

Many of the turncoat political oppressors of today cut their teeth in this seminal period of strife for the 2nd Liberation in Kenya. Names like Martin Shikuku, Masinde Muliro, George Anyona, James Aggrey Orengo, Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, Koigi wa Wamwere, Willy Mutunga, Kiraitu Murungi, Mirugi Kariuki, Katama Mkangi (author of Walenisi), Wanyiri Kihoro, Hon. Ochola Mak’Anyengo among others are synonymous with our fight for multiparty democracy in Kenya. While the likes of Dr. Julia Ojiambo and Hon. Zipporah Kittony were busy forming women leagues (Maendeleo Ya Wanawake) and traditional dance troupes to praise the extractive regime, in addition to the aquiline vision of then Senior Bachelor-In-Chief – Moi, iron-ladies like Hon. Charity K. Ngilu and Hon. Martha Karua were at the forefront of putting the kibosh on any asinine propaganda from Nyayo. There is a tale of Charity Ngilu going ape on a local government official who tried to snatch the microphone from her as she was giving her sentiments during a Presidential rally in Kitui Central Constituency. Those alive then surely bore witness to the indomitable Hon. Martha Karua as she sauntered out of yet another Presidential speech in Kirinyaga on 16th June 2001, the clenched fist gesticulation of the Democratic Party in the air, for good measure. Who then did not squirm with pride when a bloodied yet defiant Prof. Wangari Maathai emerged out of the teargas smoke at Karura Forest to demand that Moi refrains from calling her a ‘deranged woman’ but to instead exercise the discretion to engage with her on the ‘anatomy above the neck’? Eishh, If Thug-Life was a person!

Eishh, If Thug-Life was a person! Prof. Wangari Maathai emerges out of the teargas smoke at Karura Forest battered & bruised yet defiant.

Proud were the times when John Githongo – current CEO of Inuka Trust on active citizenship and former anti-graft Czar in concert with Maina Kiai of the Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHRC) reigned supreme in lashing out against the excessive and wanton expenditure that was pilfering national revenue out of the Nyayo Government coffers. University Students Leaders were not to be left behind as one Mr. Titus ‘Tito’ Adungosi, the fiery, radical and outspoken Students of Nairobi University (SONU) Chairman would bellow words of patriotism, rebellion and solidarity with the Coup plotters of 1982. He paid a very steep price for his adjudged petulance as he was charged with sedition and slapped with a 10-year jail sentence from which he never emerged. He died incarcerated in 1988 with intestinal blockage blamed but with unconcealable evidence of testicular trauma! Oh, the travails that the activists of years bygone suffered in Kenya.

Things did not get any better after the advent of multiparty politics in Kenya. David Munyakei, played a critical role as the whistleblower that blew the lid on the Goldenberg Scandal. For his act of patriotism in the exposé, the newly-employed clerk at Central Bank was victimized and punished with a dismissal letter, he was rendered unemployable, branded a criminal by the Moi government, anti-corruption agencies soon shunned him, he was abandoned by friends and later died a heinous death from pneumonia in 2006, too broke to afford even basic antibiotics (sic). We also had Father John Anthony Kaiser, the Kenyan- American, Catholic Diocesan Priest of the Lolgorian Parish in Kilgoris, Narok County who did plenty of good work in providing a sanctuary for escapees from forced, child marriages in the locale. Kaiser touched a live wire when he testified in a custody battle whence powerful Kenyan Cabinet Minister from the inner sanctums of state, Julius Sunkuli was proved to have fathered a child with a 14-year-old minor, Florence Mpaayei additional to defiling yet another. For his forthrightness, Father John Kaiser found himself at the business end of a hired assassin’s bullet one fateful day in August at the turn of the Century.

Activism by its letter and spirit is a positive thing. Invariably, it has its etymological roots in the Latin word “actus” meaning a driving force or impulse. An Activist by his/her Job Description is someone who works to achieve and is doubtlessly an advocate for social or political amelioration of a particular majority’s lot. They fight for causes inclusive of media freedom, human rights, equitable societies, accountable governments, natural justice, environmental conservation, social empowerment, differently-abled people’s rights just to name a few. Many meaningful social causes are fructified by activism. Itemized below are the benefits of noble activism:

  • Certainly, a well-meaning alternative to a bloody revolution which ultimately spells more harm than good to the oppressed. Oppressive governments and politicians naturally have no intentions to bring agenda meaningful to the populace under their charge which activism could successfully force through. Many self-styled ‘Presidents For Life’ devoid of the progressive wherewithal to corroborate them continuing on their national thrones have had such dastardly ambitions nipped in the bud by positive activism. “When Injustice becomes Law ultimately Resistance will become a Duty,” uttered loquacious yet incredibly prudent Thomas Jefferson, U.S. A’s 3rd  President.
  • Discriminative norms are often corrected by targeted activism. We were all treated to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ rallies in America after George Floyd was murdered by racist police officers in America. Some of you have certainly listened to the ferocious and withering colloquium delivered by Miss. Tamika D. Mallory – a black rights activist during one of the rallies.
  • Civic Education and sensitization is usually the product of well-executed activism. Repressive regimes totally abhor the edification of the majority as it usually closes all avenues to their mind-numbing propaganda. It’s a statement of empirical wisdom that knowledge is potential power.
  • Inequalities in the wealth-distribution matrix are usually to a small extent redressed by constant badgering of the pernicious system by an enlightened yet noble-hearted cadre of the citizenry.
  • The voice of the downtrodden will often gain an audience when amplified by activists who articulate and escalate their memoranda to the right corridors.
  • Whistleblowers who open the lid on scandals albeit skeletons in certain important national ‘closets’ are activists in my book. That is why I mentioned the incomparable David Sadera Munyakei above.
  • Most importantly, fundraising for community goals, projects and amenities can be done with the help of social campaigners, some from foreign philanthropic missions. Many third world countries certainly lag the developed world in the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that should have been attained by the year 2030, a quandary that can only be addressed with some supplementary assistance from without. Governments can only do so much with their constrained budgetary allocations that are only exacerbated by pilferage, theft and rampant corruption.

That brings me to the raison d’etre of authoring this post which is the gradual slide into disrepute of activism as it is executed in Kenya today. The aforementioned forerunners to today’s activists went into the endeavour with a spirit of sacrifice. Personal gain was the least of their concerns as life and limb was expended for the common good. Even our pre-independence freedom fighters were implicit in this in their own way as they fought for an ideal that no man deserves to be subjugated by another merely premised on the variance in the colours of their skins. They also wanted restitution of their ancestral heritage as it was universally agreed that land is an important factor of production and indeed enterprise. The tragedy of this tale is that successive generations of activists are hell-bent on allowing the good work of their progenitors to go down the drain. The enterprise that is activism is today slowly but surely degenerating into a cesspool of cognitive dissonance slathered with the ketchup of entitlement, while perpetrated by emotionally naïve albeit immature characters who preach more victimhood in antipathy to expected empowerment through the sweat of a man’s brow. I have bemoaned in another platform, the fact that Education is supposed to confer not just sophistry to its owners but the ability to critically yet objectively analyze situations to come to a reasoned, learned solution for a problem. Many of today’s spurious charlatans attempting to lay claim to activism engage in all sorts of shadowboxing and chatter-boxing, any scintilla of rationality falling by the wayside.

Some activists of the new school of thought are nothing but vectors for misinformation nay what POTUS #45 invoked as disgusting, fake news! Yes, I went there. For reasons I shall not disclose until a future post, I was part of the current Voter Registration effort by the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission (IEBC). I surmised like many commentators on political affairs that a huge number of youths were shunning the important responsibility of registering as voters for the whole gamut of valid reasons with pedestrian excuses interspersed within. From invoking successive electoral processes as riddled with inaccuracies and violence to allegations that the deep state had already settled on the entire leadership hierarchy for 2022 beforehand, to the Covid-19 crisis and its vagaries, broken promises by the successive regimes to eternally voting for a candidate who ‘allows his votes to be stolen’; I heard it all to muted chagrin and disgust. My ire was especially piqued by two characters who shall remain anonymous for reason that I feel neither predilection to broadcast their asinine existence nor would I ever want to convert this platform into some sort of gutter press arena for launching invective albeit expletives. After asking them a raft of questions pertaining to Registration and Voting in Elections, they proceeded to engage me in all sorts of gaslighting mishigas for the aversion of their constitutional rights as envisaged in Chapter 4 of our current Constitution, Article 38. They tried to convince me that all politicians are the same while taking me down the garden path quoting books like Aminata & Man of Kafira to try to cipher some sort of intellectual verve. Things took a turn for the bizarre when one attempted to create a false equivalence between the travails of Prime Minister (Emeritus) Rt. Hon. Raila for the civil liberties currently enjoyed in Kenya & Deputy President, H.E. William Ruto’s political journey. Come On! He queried, “Why did Raila abandon the opposition after the handshake?” I was not only aghast with disbelief but at the same time boiling with revulsion at such an overt display of ignorance at its rawest by these two pseudo-intellectual harlequins! Of course, we would have come to blows if I were not a level-headed citizen of the Republic. “Lord Forgive them for they know not what they speak of,” I muttered inwardly. Another posited, “If Raila always has his votes stolen, why doesn’t he reciprocate & also try to steal next time?” So, victim-blaming is now à la mode? In closing submissions, after one unfurled to me that both of them work as “activists”, there and then, the scales immediately fell off my eyes. What kind of activists are these that spread only despondency and ignorance? Congenital buffoonery cannot be ruled out here when one blatantly refuses to draw parallels between history and the current reality. How could such ignoramuses ever conduct Voter Education or Sensitization on their own? Who will ever engender respect for institutions if those who have taken on that task are ill-tooled for the activity? Probably, that may not be within the purview of their activist trade! Or maybe their line of work is divorced from reality, I shudder to imagine. Activism should spread hope not despair and destitution.

Photo Credits: imgflip.com & Pastor Patience Ozonkwor

Let me swiftly move to cast a pall on the most egregious behaviour by activists of the contemporary day. In antipathy to exposés to name and shame wantonness, many have made the transition from sacrificial individuals who work for the best interests of society pro-bono to quid pro quo rascals even worse than the operands of the politically-correct system they oppose. Some have become an absolute nuisance as they now pander only to the side of their bread which is buttered and nothing else from corporations whose excesses they should oppose. Cases of blackmail, harassment and even booking acres of space on our national dailies to engage in brown-envelope journalism geared at unnecessary character assassination. None has honed his skill in such bilge better than the photographer-turned-activist, Boniface Mwangi. A warrior for social causes, human rights and active citizenship in years bygone, I feel this fellow is slowly but most assuredly taking the slide to the dark side. Ever since his attempt to become Starehe MP in 2017 came a cropper, there is an incontrovertible body of occurrences to corroborate his cranial circuits being short-circuited and now he is no longer a fighter for public good but for parochial gain. Post-handshake from March 2018 to the current date, ‘Bonny’ as he’s affably referred to by the denizens of Kenya has been on a rampage to scupper any initiative meaningful to the majority of Kenyans adjunct to seeking relevance to sell his merchandise.

Photo Credits: Photographer and Activist – ‘Bonny’ Mwangi

For some context, after that altruistic handshake for the sake of the nation, Kenya lost a recognized Official Opposition. For many years, Rt. Hon. Odinga had held the torch in this regard, toiling a labour of love trying to right the excesses of the state. From being an unbowed campaigner for Electoral Justice to his unwithering struggle against graft and social upheaval among the hoi-polloi of our country. In little dissimilitude to Apostle Paul on his turbulent odyssey to preach to the Corinthians, he was once whipped at a public rally in Kwale by an opportunistic attacker! He has suffered the perils of robbers and a heavy helping of disappointment albeit betrayal from false brethren. He has in the past been accused of being complicit in a terrorist attack to destabilize the Jubilee Government in its infancy which charitably enough, the Al-Shabaab ultimately took full responsibility for. They are doubtlessly averse to external forces stealing their thunder! He has inhaled a copious miasma of teargas for several social causes he needn’t have fought for, but did. His Presidential ambitions have been shipwrecked and poleaxed several times tantamount to the aforementioned electoral injustice. Marauders have severally set him without oars in a leaky raft to political oblivion, spending days and nights at a time in the open seas headed for Bondo with an unseen hand always guiding him back ashore. Needless to state, he has actually been a ‘Legio-Maria’ priestly garb-adorned passenger in some ramshackle boat in stormy Lake Victoria en route to Uganda when he was escaping certain execution by the repressive Special Branch Officers of the Nyayo regime in the early ’90s. Worse of all, he has recently been accused of betrayal, post-handshake by the same people who voted for kleptocrats thrice adjunct to others like Waiguru and Waititu all the while avowing, “Mkisema hao ni wezi ndio tunawapenda zaidi!” (We love us our thieves).

Photo Credits: Rt. Hon. Odinga in Legio Maria Regalia which has come in handy in the past – Courtesy of Justus Ochieng’ at NMG

Back to Boniface, he attempted to scuttle the BBI Initiative quoting some cockamamie grounds that cannot hold water even in the fickle court of public discourse. He seemed to be insinuating some sinister motive at one time claiming that the 2022 poll would be a referendum on the goodies received by the youth; who currently constitute a majority of the country’s population, from all sorts of pseudo-philanthropists with minimal recollections on some storied historical sacrifices by the noble of heart from which they have not benefited. He forgets the enduring sentiments of America’s 35th President, John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what service you owe your country.” Also, those who fail to learn from the foibles of history risk repeating them. Recently, he dredged the nadirs of the barrel of nuisance by orchestrating the razing and vandalism of the route marker for the newly-renamed Francis Atwoli Road in Kileleshwa, Nairobi. This is not only uncalled for but stinks of the acrid stench of malice and ill-will. He questioned, “What has Atwoli done for Nairobi specifically and Kenya in general?” If I didn’t know any better, I would have reckoned he is a tourist in Kenya! Truth be told, Boniface Mwangi and many others ideologues, demagogues, battering rams, guns for hire, talking-heads, pretenders and paid-mouthpieces were merely hiding behind the grand, old enigma of Kenyan Democracy under the pretext of fighting for social justice, so today find their charade ruthlessly exposed when their erstwhile human shield is working in concord with the state.

Tribe Kenya is a Functional and Noble Activist Movement unlike the ideologues, demagogues, battering rams, guns for hire, talking-heads, pretenders & paid-mouthpieces that have become the bane of the activism space today.

One of our better-known campaigners for social justice has in the past adduced the fact that Jesus died for us all and so henceforth, none other should die for anyone else. They added that the best one can do is to live for their families. Apparently, many of the new civil rights campaigners are taking that rallying call way too seriously, even going rogue to pander to the abated load. It is to my greatest consternation that some of these so-called activists and philanthropists are funded by International Aid associations and even well-known billionaires out to give back to society. However, the acquiesced aid does not reach the projects it was purposed to fund as it is diverted to buy or build swanky apartment blocks and mansions in the leafy-green upmarket haunts of this nation. ‘Go-Fund Me’ pages clog social media but unfortunately the destination of the pecuniary wherewithal collected is the stuff of conjecture. There are constrained avenues for accountability because any calls for the same will be met with demonstrations by the accused who hire all sorts of louts and touts that hang about our city centres jobless to remonstrate about being unfairly victimized. There are people even within my private purview who today reside in posh homes in Karen Estate, south-west Nairobi that hitherto are earmarked to host Orphans and the Destitute but today are the summer homes of some slay queens/ boy toys who purport to be running NGOs. Some of the Children Homes exist but only as a façade for the diversion of foreign funds into unscrupulous individuals’ pockets. Conditions are squalid with the occupants dastardly of wear yet billions may have been channeled from abroad in that regard. I don’t seek to act ad hominem, but yet another was in the news recently for building an apartment block in the sprawling Ruaka Estate on the Nairobi-Kiambu boundary that encroaches on the already narrow cattle track connecting Limuru Road to the hinterlands of Ruaka, Ndenderu and Muchatha. Apparently, I am not supposed to police human morality but would be remiss if I failed to invoke terms like “profiteers”, “traitors” and “charlatans” to describe such individuals. Others have gone a step further to call themselves Pastors, Evangelists and even ‘Bishops sans ordinare’ (without ordination) while partaking of such abysmal conduct. These stories are the staple of the mass media where they can be freely obtained.

The world is quite a dangerous place and life rather unfair. It is full of fickle, selfish and malicious people more subtle than serpents. I give such a dire indictment of humanity in full cognizance of the misuse of philanthropic associations as a backdoor mechanism to bring regime change in several countries. As a student and commentator on historical affairs, I have even on this very platform gone on a tangent about the undue influence of former colonial powers, mostly France over its overseas territories and outposts. The harrowing tales of the assassination of President Thomas Sankara by ex-French Legionnaires in Burkina Faso, propping up of the regime of Pres. Joseph-Désiré Mobutu Sese Seko in DRC and complicity in the Rwandan genocide reads like the script of a horror flick. However, the broth is murkier when erstwhile international aid societies join the mélange. Heavily implicit in such shenanigans has been the Open Society Foundation, a charitable organization run by Hungarian-born, American hedge-fund plutocrat, George Soros. Mr. Soros is a firm believer in the ideal that in any noble endeavour, one should do the right thing whether it succeeds or flounders. However, his name has come up time and again whether factually or fictitiously as a backer of extra-democratic means for regime changes worldwide. No smoking guns have been found yet but as the sages succinctly put it, “Where there is smoke, there must be subterranean fire.”

Closely linked to state destabilization aforementioned is Religious fundamentalism, radicalization and extremism that usually exists behind the shroud of activism. We have in the past seen people holding demonstrations because of events overseas like the ostensible occupation of Afghanistan by the United States Marines or the incursion by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) into Somalia. Others are groups like the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) that preaches for the cessation of the coastal strip from mainland Kenya. Such movements start with reasonable calls for land rights but usually degenerate into anti-unity slogans like ‘Pwani si Kenya!’ (The Coast is an autonomous realm). That mixed with sectarian radicalization of the neighbourhood youths with an extremist ideology of the fundamentalist agenda often results in the defection of many of our ‘Shabab’ (young men/women) across the border to fight in some nebulous Jihad (Holy War) against infidels. It is in the public domain that the proponents of the 1998 terrorist attack orchestrated by Mohammed Fazul and his co-conspirators first made landfall in Kenya and were domiciled in Runda, Nairobi as some sort of Islamist NGO. We have in the past seen and heard of extremist religious clerics in the coastal strip being whisked away out of the streets or their homes in dark vehicles without registration plates and by unknown individuals to eventually turn up either extrajudicially executed or simply disappear into the annals of oblivion. Though we may have a diverse range of ideas as the most intelligent species in existence, none put it better than antiquated Italian-American mafia don; Al Capone when he averred, “A bullet changes a lot in your head even if it merely grazes your haunches.” Fundamental freedoms of association, conscience and expression exist nevertheless they must be delimited by responsibility. Contravention of the laws that engender harmony is antithetic to the unity which we aspire for as a nation. Granted we have many problems as a disparate mishmash of ancient nation-states, violence against each other can never be the answer. Those who engage in fundamentalism should take heed not to overstep the boundaries stipulated by laid-down strictures and statutes otherwise as senior security operatives put it, “Forgiving human transgressions is God’s work, all the same, arranging the meeting between terrorists/murderers and their deity is our calling!” Sounds harsh, but the peaceful existence of the tranquil majority should supersede the calls of entitlement, victimhood, cognitive dissonance (bigotry) and the dredges of narrow-mindedness by the errant citizenry.

Today more than any other time in history, Judges and Magistrates of the Kenyan High Court are taking charge on national affairs. The tragedy here is that their incursion coincides with the proliferation of incidences of Judicial activism invoked aptly by others as the “Tyranny of the Bench.” We have a devastating vicissitude of circumstances that sees former heroes of the 2nd Liberation in Kenya from both the Bench and the Bar overreaching their ambits. In cahoots with the President of the Law Society in Kenya, today they are hellbent on opposing everything that comes out of the mouth of our Head of State on the fickle grounds of enforcing respect for ‘Court Orders’ by and large, the Judiciary. A glaring anomaly is that one of the conveners of this ‘caucus of the absurd’ is himself a Chief Justice (emeritus) and ex-President of the Supreme Court, Justice Willy Mutunga who exercised not a modicum of the zeal he purports to have today in bringing recourse for these same instances of erratum. Contemporaneously, it has become a veritable publicity stunt to push for the return of the self-appointed ‘Major General of the National Revolutionary Movement, Joshua Miguna Miguna from the algid climes of Toronto, Canada. Our often haughty and garrulous Barrister, Solicitor and Commissioner of Oaths but today a national figure of lampoon & meme by his own choosing is by the strictures of Constitutional Chapter 3, Article 16 – Still a bona fide Kenyan citizen as those rights are inalienable and cannot be lost simply by the acquisition of another nation’s additional citizenship. Nevertheless, Kenya has moved on from the post-poll malaise of 2017 – early 2018 so the return of the Barrister will be counterproductive as it will only roil calm waters unnecessarily. In borrowing a leaf from our former VP, Prof. George Saitoti’s sentiments vociferated at the National Delegates Conference of March 2002, “There comes a time when the nation is more important than an individual.” We needn’t go back to bloody carnage just to pander to the outsize ego of one clown with delusions of grandeur. My message to all who feel strongly inclined to start a revolution is that if you must be a rebel, never let conceit and vendetta be your only causes.

Photo Credits: Barrister Joshua Miguna Miguna and ex-CJ, Willy Mutunga  {taarifanews.co.ke}

Kenya boasts a special cadre of unheralded nay unsung activists who are the artistes that have eternally stayed true to the message of alleviation of the plights of the downtrodden. Those that exist at the top of my head include Kalamashaka, Ukoo Flani – Mau Mau, Kitu Sewer (K-Swiss), the Late G-Wiji, Juliani among a pantheon of others. Further afield, the late, great poet, rapper, actor and black rights activist, Tupac Shakur performed that task deftly and with distinction.

Photo Credits: Kalamashaka

Artistes play a crucial role as mirrors coruscating the norms of society and calling the polity to action at the opportune time. In 2007, former gospel singer & CEO of Trublaq Entertainment, dearly departed Big Kev (Kevin Ombajo) was at the forefront of the ‘Vijana Tugutuke’ movement that encouraged heightened political awareness and engagement by the youths of Kenya as a means to have a say on the destiny of their nation. Voter registration for the 2007 polls was driven skywards by the concerts organized countrywide whose only ‘entry ticket’ was either an Elector’s card or National Identification Card.

Photo Credits: IEBC – Vijana Tugutuke.

Equally, captivating to the national psyche was the anti-jigger campaigns in Central Kenya that were marshaled by former beauty queen Cecilia Mwangi, an unequivocally noble venture that has been a quantum leap to the lifestyles of rural Kenyans. Goes to show that feminine elegance can be wonderfully dovetailed with a purpose and not merely ‘kukula fare’ (reaping where you sowed not) which is becoming endemic! We also have the anti-Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) warriors like former marathon queen, Tegla Loroupe who are still moving boulders long after the extinction of their athletics prowess.

Photo Credits: Cecilia Mwangi of Ahadi Kenya Trust

In terminal remarks, I call for some deeply introspective soul-searching from each of the practitioners of the activist trade on noble reasons for joining the movement. If your rationale is less than virtuous, just quit lest you be jettisoned out of the venture in great sacrilege.

By dennismukoya

I am a consummate thinker of new solutions which I passionately endeavour to implement.

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