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.
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.