Monthly Archives: January 2011

Gospesecular?

There is no doubt that the Kenyan gospel music scene is growing at an amazing rate. The two gospel music events on 31ST Dec – Groove Party and TSO – were full to capacity and aired on two mainstream TV channels. That is no small achievement. Talking of TV, on Sunday, between 6am and 1pm ALL TV channels have gospel content and gospel music shows getting airplay.

This should be a cause for celebration. However there are questions arising as to whether Kenyan gospel music has gone too far and actually turned secular. Several occurrences in the recent past have made me to pen this post.

Firstly, I stumbled on a discussion on Hope FM mid-morning that chilled me. In studio was a couple from USA, who were in Kenya for a very special mission. Apparently, the wife had had a dream whose gist was that God was going to bring untold suffering to Kenya due to the Kenyan gospel music going rogue. The couple were therefore in Kenya to warn us and to ask the gospel musicians to change track.

The second occurrence happened online as guys watched the numerous gospel music shows. Lots of folk were expressing displeasure at what they were seeing. That was surprising as these are not “holier-than-thou” types and for them to be concerned than really there was a cause for concern.

Having listened to those who had an issue with the gospel music I took it upon myself to move the debate forward and ask a gospel artiste who is my acquaintance their reaction to the issue and this is how the conversation went:

Moderate: Hi. Watched the gospel music show yesterday and if I muted and just watched the visuals there is no difference from The Beat. What’s happening to Gospel? Is it about God and the gospel or have money, fame and glam taken over?

Artiste: Hi, well, I’m v.sad that you think so- I believe gospel artistes are working hard to remain relevant, and we are all learning as we move along. Where we come short, God’s grace is definitely sufficient. Thank you and have a fab year!

Moderate: I’m not sure we communicated. I understand the defensiveness since you’re a stakeholder but still think it’s a debate worth having. Watched the shows from 7am-12pm and was shocked by content. What’s the aim of making gospel secular? And how soon before daggering and bendover dance styles feature in gospel music?

Artiste: Bendover dance styles…? You may have lost me there for sure. I think we are definitely not communicating…gospel music should be ‘relevant’, and not ‘secular’. A lot of the young people will communicate their understanding of God in the best way that they know how. Your debate is one that can never be exhausted, as it’s been a bone of contention for as long as I can remember. But as I said, even with the intention of doing something right, it is only normal that we will err from time to time.

Moderate: I’m all for change and adapting. However there’s adapting and conforming. If I watch all the many gospel shows and think this is like The Beat then a point is been missed. You are in a unique place-you host a show and are a gospel celeb. This gives you influence to shape the scene. Church should be what we can turn to in the midst of the worldly stuff. If its the same as regular music then what’s the point? PS: Bendover/daggering are explicit dance styles popular in Jamaican riddim music. Since I yesterday saw a riddim song with a guy all over a girl in a “gospel” jam its not impossible to imagine one year from now bendover on a gospel show.

Artiste: In as much as there may be a video(s) that make you feel that gospel music has been compromised, it is also true to say that there are artistes who have remained true to their call. The best I can do is to play my part, since we all form the body of Christ- it’s impossible for an individual to change the whole body. Compromise in the Church/gospel is not a new phenomenon. It may be more pronounced now, but it’s always been there. And yes, there is a chance that it will get worse, but that just tells you the times we are living in. One or two individual mistakes don’t warrant a ‘blanket’ conclusion over ever other artiste. You should also realize that artistes get into gospel music for various reasons. For some it is a call, for others it is a quick way to make money. All this reflects in the music and lifestyle. Which makes it important for one to be able to discern and choose what to listen to/watch.

Moderate: Thanks for your time.

So there you have it. You have heard both sides of the debate on Kenyan gospel music.

Has it gone rogue? Is it just adjusting in accordance to the times we live in? Watch any Kenyan TV channel this Sunday 6am – 1pm and decide for yourself.

GOD BLESS KENYA!


South Sudan

With the Sudan referendum concluded it appears as though South Sudan will secede from the North and be Africa’s newest country.

South Sudan which is where 80% of Sudan’s oil comes from is a region that is unfortunately totally underdeveloped. This is as a result of a messed up colonial legacy bestowed by the Brits and the two civil wars in a span of 50 years against the Arab North who look at the Southerners as second class citizens.

There is no doubt that South Sudan deserve their freedom and as I pay tribute to the soldiers who have spent 20 – 50 years fighting I also pray that your efforts may not have been in vain. I have also been quite impressed by South Sudanese musicians and sportsmen who have taken the South cause to a global audience. Emmanuel Jal stands out with his “We want peace campaign” that has presidents and world leaders rapping!  How I wish that our musicians and sports people can borrow a leaf!

Kenya has for a long time offered support to the South. This support has not only been a neighbourly gesture but also a strategic plan. OIL makes the world go round and Kenya and Kenyans want a piece of the South Sudan oil.

After the peace agreement was signed, Kenyan government and Kenyan entrepreneurs stormed Juba, the capital of South Sudan looking for opportunities. There are success stories coupled with horror stories which incidentally the government turns a blind eye so as not to upset the South Sudan government. There is also the mega-billion government investment on Lamu port which is been constructed to tap into the South Sudan market.

During the referendum, Kenyan media went overboard with their coverage of Sudan. It was jesters in social media termed it – The Showdown in Sudan. This I felt was at the expense of Kenyan stories and also the journalists did not give in-depth analysis with a Kenyan slant i.e. how does the referendum and possible split affect Kenya?

Speaking to a friend who lives and works in Khartoum I was left with an uneasy feeling that Kenya may be the joker in the pack regarding the South Sudan issue.

Apparently China has a hold of the oil wells in Sudan and Kenya can only hope for leftovers. The pipeline from Juba to Lamu is still on paper so for a very long time the pipeline from Juba to Khartoum is how oil will flow out of South Sudan.  This means that Kenyans dream of oil next door will remain just a dream for a while.

In as far as entrepreneurship is concerned; Ugandans and South Africans are also angling for a piece of the pie. Ugandans allegedly has an upper hand since its rebel’s forces roam the land and extort money from entrepreneurs form other countries. South Africa also has a lot of government officials in Juba facilitating its entrepreneur’s efforts.

Kenya which is the country that has offered the South the most support and which is where the peace agreement was signed on the other hand is still trying to figure out how to tackle South Sudan. Unfortunately by the time our government comes up with a foreign policy that sets forth its agenda in South Sudan we shall be too late.

Yes, the gutsy entrepreneurs, the multi-national companies and corrupt Kenya government officials are making a killing from South Sudan but it will be awhile or maybe even never before the ordinary Kenyan sees returns from the goodwill extended to the South Sudan over the years.

GOD BLESS KENYA!


Not with my taxes!

It is becoming apparent that the government is hell bent to protect the Ocampo Gang of Six and horror of horrors, these men who are accused of  bearing greatest responsibility in the rape, arson and murder of Kenyans may still be in government after the 2012 general elections.

It is with shock that I read of the plan by the government to provide funds to the tune of Ksh 4.7 billion for the legal defence of the Ocampo Six. The Government Spokesman while denying the figure gave the game away when he said that the matter of providing funds is still under consideration.

In case we forget where we are coming from, Kenya has had election violence in 1992, 1997 and in 2007. If nothing is done to the perpetrators what is to stop the cycle continuing in 2012? There is also the matter of justice for the 1,000+ who died and 600,000+ who were displaced. That is the point of the ICC! I do not understand why and how the lives of 40 million Kenyans are put at risk to save 6 men. Perhaps President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila can shed light on this.

Kenya is on the throes of a biting drought which is incidentally a result of the government poor policies but many Kenyan ministers are engaged in shuttle diplomacy in a bid to convince African countries to support Kenya’s bid to pull out of the Rome statute in a bid to save the six men. The VP has been dispatched to South Africa, Uganda, Egypt and Malawi. Minister Mwakwere has been dispatched to Botswana, Lesotho and Zimbabwe. Minister Otieno was dispatched to Ghana and Nigeria while Minister Githae went to Djibouti. And yes, it is on our taxes!

Imagine if the government can go to such lengths to frustrate the ICC process, how much more compromised will the local tribunal that is been pushed for be?

With this kind of leadership it is certainly hard been proudly Kenyan. Paying for the legal fees of the Ocampo Gang of Six is callous, insensitive and utterly heartless.

The brotherhood of the political class is closing rank. When shall the brotherhood of the ordinary Kenyans close rank and say enough is enough and actually DO SOMETHING?

UPDATE: I wrote this post a week back and forgot to post it :( . There has been an online initiative started  http://www.petitiononline.com/811976/petition.html which I reckon is a first step towards reclaiming ownership of Kenya by Kenyans away from the political class that have totally lost it.

GOD BLESS KENYA!


The WWW

It is said that he who was bitten by snake fears a piece of string. Therefore it is best to begin with a disclaimer.

I have been a victim of  actual hacking into my personal email account so I speak from that perspective. I also had the luxury of doing quite a bit of my growing up sans the www so I can remember a time without it.

This disclaimer is important because most folk have no idea how it feels to have your privacy violated and also cannot envision a life without the internet.

In my opinion, the prevalence of internet in Kenya has not lead to a corresponding increase in common sense and good judgement. As my pal pointed out, the internet has magnified the dumbness and stupidity that some folk have. Most of the internet users are inevitably young and since they grew up with the computer, their people skills and street smarts are not very developed.  Thus they tend to believe all that is written online, there is an amazing lack of compassion exhibited and they do not or they chose to ignore the bigger picture.

There has also been in the recent past an emergence of a blogging culture in Kenya which is an amazing phenomenon. The problem is that some of the bloggers have no concept of fairness, objectivity and public good. The result is half truths, allegations and rumours been posted as gospel truth online.

In the past one week several online occurrences have led me to give thought to privacy in a digital age. The questions I pondered on were: Is it possible? Is it necessary? Where does one draw a line?

The incidences were varied by location and also context. An online website posted a story about a leading Apostle who allegedly sexually molested a member of his congregation. A woman accused a top gospel musician of date rape and this was exhaustively discussed on social media. The personal email addresses and cell phone numbers of all Kenyan MPs were put up on website. The American government dossier on drug barons in Kenya was made available. The payslip of popular DJ was posted online.

As you can see it was a mix and there could be arguments made for and against publication of each story or info. Been someone interested in governance, I feel that the leaking of dossier on drug barons is timely and in the public good. I however feel that allegations of rape and sexual harassment have no place being discussed on social media (just open any of the blogs, read the comments made and your blood will race at the insensitive comments posted) since they require sensitivity and maturity be accorded to the victims. Someone else who is interested in the life and times of Kenyan “celebrities” will thoroughly enjoying their dirty linen been shown in public and will gleefully follow their fall from grace. Different strokes for different folks and I totally agree that both intellectual content and un-serious content have a place on the shelf.

What I have a problem with is the invasion of privacy and the mudslinging that is emerging.

Let us first tackle privacy. In this digital age all my information is available at the touch of a button. If you have access to my bank’s system, you can access my account statement. If you have access to the hospital’s system, you can access my full medical report. If you have access to my phone company’s system, you can access my call logs. Now imagine all this information was accessed by unscrupulous individuals and posted online. The shoe is pinching isn’t it? It is suddenly not as fun as laughing at DJ X or Apostle Y or Diva Z. Today it is the “celebrities” feeling the pinch but by natural progression it is safe to presume that one day it will be an ordinary Kamau who will be the victim. What if it is you?

Then there is mudslinging. You go to bed today with a solid reputation and wake up tomorrow to numerous blog posts accusing you of all manner of indiscretions. The more you fight it the guiltier you appear. If you are innocent and the post is taken down the damage has already been done. The internet + social media + gullible folk is like dry grass + a matchstick. Hoaxes turn to gospels and spread like bushfire. The link will have been shared and re-shared and the story will have joined Nairobi’s folklore. Again it is fun to read the fall of grace of the “celebs” but what if the shoe was on the other foot?

I have not even touched on cyber bullying and the hacking, both which are emerging and which will obviously be prevalent as internet density increases.

These my friends are the days of our lives. The computers are in control and the World Wide Web is also the Wild Wild West!

Is there a problem? Methinks yes. What is the solution? I have no idea! The creation of laws governing online conduct as a deterrent is what jumps to mind but that would tend to stifle all and sundry. Just look at the Alcoholic Control Act which has interfered with my ability to enjoy a cold one at my convenience. I shudder at not been able to voice my opinions freely so censorship for me would be a loss-loss scenario.

I’m putting this out there for discussion as I feel that it is something worth a discourse.

What do you think?

GOD BLESS KENYA!


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