By Alex Roberts
Look, there has been a lot of talk about King Kaka’s latest track, Wajinga Nyinyi (almost like he designed it to be, *gasp*, controversial). This is the entire point of the track. Say what you will about the timing of it, the underlying message is clear, that of subversion against corruption at all levels of the Kenyan government.
Well fantastic, there has been a long standing need for more artists of prominence in Kenya to make real pieces of protest art, instead of constantly rubbing shoulders with MPs or throwing concert galas only said MPs kids can afford to attend.
The song has proved a subversive barn-burner, a slowly unfolding piece of poetry calling out (often by name) the egregious actions of the government of Kenya when it comes to matters of corruption.
There is one aspect of the last two weeks, that has baffled me somewhat. That of King Kaka’s work being turned into a springboard for a presidential bid. Why are there so many calls for him to come into the ‘fold’ and join politics, particularly from within the artistic community? Sure it is a knee-jerk reaction, but the effect and message surrounding such calls have been widespread across social media.
Look, all work is fair game, and all opinions are valid, so relax person in the back who wants to comment. We’re on the same page, but so is King Kaka, and that’s the larger point.
Sometimes its more important to not be another suited politician, one who wears steadily more gauche ties and year over year forgets about everyday people. Kenya needs voices like that of King Kaka who are outside, beyond and throwing rocks at the establishment; him joining them would nothing but a letdown of a subversive mind.
There have been others thought to have been a voice of rebellion in the Nairobi scene, so how have they been doing since they took the plunge and took their elected seats? Badly?
It would be an utter disappointment if he ever swung for the fences and joined politics in any official capacity. Artists and politics should be like church and government, they should never be joined together.
If nothing us, King Kaka’s work can be an example of protest art in the mainstream; after all, there’s a reason that Kenya’s creative sector is behind, and it is not a lack of a talent. It is due in large part to the government diverting funds away from the furthering of Kenyan artistic talents, (often through the very scandals Wajinga Nyinyi refers to) in order to quell the exact type of anti-establishment messaging that a great musician with an important message can produce. The cowardly stance taken by the government of Kenya against the leading voice of internal criticism, the arts, has down insidious damage and derailed the potential of the creative sector of the entire country, simply to drive another Benz, divert additional funds and fuck another Russian escort.
So, while the message of Wajinga Nyinyi isn’t expressly about supporting the creative industry; through it, King Kaka went to bat on the sector’s behalf. All governments need external figures to act as critics, and the media can’t be alone in this.
Hearing all the calls for him to join politics, one can’t help that think maybe shit just isn’t that funny. Simply put, King Kaka is much to valuable to his country as an artist to ever lower himself to the point of being a politician.