Thursday last week rose as a celebratory day to mourners than a sad one. The presence of prominent persons in a funeral often draws attention away from the deseased.Kamaru’s family was no exception.The old man had, through his 75 years alive, earned himself a state burial.This however, was no reason to forget why and how he had become as popular as he was.
As I followed the ‘event’ from home, my tea got cold several times as under normal circumstances, I would have been one of the live ‘mourners’on the ground. The first thing I noticed was the ‘Praise and Worship’ team which consisted of the greatest vocalists in the Gikuyu Gospel Industry. The old man was deserving of synchronized harmonies.
The other very noticable thing was the sermon from the Bishop Harrison Ng’ang’a.It is obviously not a wonder to have scary sermons in funerals but this was an impromtu stage performance for the delegates. A leader who starts any public communication with multiple references to himself is just plainly out to brag.I am a very keen follower of words and I analyze on fact, not persons. Any religious speaker should know that in such a gathering, not every person is a believer in his faith.There is nothing on earth as annoying as a preacher trying to touch on issues he has no idea about. You know, like a nun telling you sex is bad? It dilutes his word and makes it tasteless. The first slap the musicians got was from that man of God. Hail God for He chooses each and all and the learned Father Wamugunda was the clothe that wiped our tears. When Athuri a Kiama kia Ma did their service uninterrupted, I regained peace.
The President’s abrupt announcement on the invite to Statehouse was the second slap. ‘Wakuje, nitawachinjia’ automatically made me pick an outfit for Tuesday in my head.Hope was swimming my way as I joined my fellow recording artists in a discussion group on Whatsapp.’When such a door opens, nobody can shut it’, so I thought. I had no time to think of the purpose for the invite at that time and I’m sure I wasn’t alone. The creators of the group said it was meant to unite us, so that we set up a meeting on the agendas to table to the President when we met him.The meeting was set for Friday, 4:00pm.
The Bluesprings arena was full when I arrived. I managed to get a seat pretty close to the stage. I had never seen 90% of the people in that room before that day and as I listened to them speak, before the meeting started, one thing was clear; they all wanted to go to the State House.As the commitee members arrived and started with introductions, my hope was starting to become frail. “In a hall consisting of 2,000 musicians, why would we need to be introduced to other musicians so deeply? We are not fans.” My mind could not fathom. The other obvious time waster in gatherings is a forced Praise session and prayers consisting of utterances like ‘it is God who has said this time and no man can say no’. At around 6:30, the purpose of the meeting started, obviously after a very disturbing talk by Ben Githae. The quote’If you think education is expensive, wait and see what ignorance will cost you’ started to make sense.
Albert Gacheru of the ‘Mwendwa Wakwa Mariru’ hit read the agendas they had written and the first one was SKIZA.My ears shut and my mind ran automatically.When did Uhuru get a job at Safaricom as an agent? What could he possibly do about Skiza? Who has ever been forced to use SKIZA? Come to think of it, SKIZA is the most useless innovation. Why should one pay for their callers to be entertained? How does it benefit the artist?I realized at that point, that even those who had asked for the meeting had no idea who they were going to meet and what they wanted from him. I decided then, to ask a certain lady next to me what she hoped to get from the visit and she said “Ona angituhe ngiri ikumi ikumi no sawa” (even if he gives us each 10,000 shillings, it would be okay).I almost shed a tear. I felt so out of place. I felt wronged. I felt disrespected for being invited to such a gathering. It felt like those cheap campaign meetings where you sit down for hours, listening to promises you know will never be fulfilled only to get 2,000 bob.I felt unsafe.My father did not educate me for this.Kamaru had not died for this.
The heckling that came after John De’Mathew left, of people not wanting to be represented now made sense. Even I wouldn’t trust Githae with my 10K. I was in distress because I wouldn’t have had a problem with representation, but I wouldn’t want to be associated with anyone who would go to the highest office in the country to talk about his business choices. I knew then that I wanted nothing to do with all that but I would still, if given a chance, have liked to taste some ribs of royalty. That was a slap on my face.
Many things will be said about the cancellation of the meeting but I kid you not, there was no meeting. Everybody wanted a feast. There are musicians in the commitee who benefit from ‘knowing people in high places. The problems facing musicians can only be solved if every musician feels the pain. Not if governors share a few thousands with a few artists after funerals at Bluepost. They will obviously see the rest of us as ‘ini'(liver, meaning broke).
The gathering of around two thousand musicians in one place to me though, meant something. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but it was the beginning of something. One can only hope for something positive.