Artists are an important part of human landscape. Their historical contribution to human history is to be celebrated. What would our history be without Maroon Commandos? Our space would be silent without the harming of birds and our inadequate effort to imitate them in songs like “hey Jude” by the Beatles.
Those of us old school Jazzies could not have had such a splendid growing up without VOKs’ ‘Sun Downer’. Art is an external expression of the God who said, “Let there be” and there was. This Artistic absolute who created us in His own image gave us part of himself and a few have had the privilege of displaying it in Cathedral Architecture, magnificent skyscrapers, Michelangelo’s ‘David’ or in the guitar of Joseph Kamaru.
Being a musician myself, I am a junkie for musical expressions. My buddy knows this and directed me to a kikuyu artist with a new song. He is always accusing me of being closed out because I do not have a Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, or twitter account. Why? You may ask. Well it is a free country and I have the right not to.
I listened to the song once. Then not believing my ears I listened to it a second time. I heard the words and to make sure I heard it right, I analyzed the song a third and fourth time! I turned it off and digested what I had heard. I wanted to make sure that I do not judge quickly. Marcus Aurelius’ (Roman Emperor 161-180AD) advised humanity not to be quick to judge but through reason to digest what we hear and see, and to always make rational decision. (Marcus Aurelius’: Meditation.)
The Kikuyu song Ikamba has great rhythm and the music is perfectly arranged. The tune is catchy but the words cannot be an expression of the Creator who wanted art to arouse within us laughter, empathy, sympathy and joy. The Creator who wanted us to enjoy the AWE and break into joyous celebration of ‘YMCA’ or into spiritual exclamation of the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy.”
The words in the kikuyu song Ikamba were meant to create a partnership with the ‘devil’ within humanity: He takes God’s all Good earth and working with rebellion brings forth hate and violence. The words are not meant to bring forth laughter, empathy, sympathy and joy. They are intended to arouse hate and violence.
An artist is the guy I found expressing himself the other day. I was entering my favorite hangout place: Cocoa Beach public library in Cocoa beach, Florida. An artist was expressing himself on the entrance wall. He was bringing out his environmental experience of the east coast of Florida sunset at the beach. I stopped to take a picture and in appreciation he said, “Go ahead it is for your enjoyment.” That is Art!
Are Isaiah Ndungu and Njau Waharaka guilty, YES! But they are not guilty of a crime deserving a court of law. They are within their right to constitutional expression: Within this right we do not need to be policed around by these United Nations sponsored “spiritual hypocrites.” Rather, they are guilty of mutilating a great gift. They are guilty of making a mockery off such a sacred right: The right to free expression. They are guilty of giving us artists a bad name. Their sentence should not be a judges’ decision. Rather, it should be us! All of us Kenyans shouting together in an artistic expression of disgust saying, “Shame on you, Shame of you, shame on you.
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD)
Diaspora Messenger Senior Columnist