Opinion

Revolution? What revolution? Next song, please

Revolution? What revolution? Next song, please
  • King Kaka’s rap song would be revolutionary if the majority of keyboard warriors, nay Kenyans, were actually stirred enough to leave the comfort of their keyboards and hashtags and demonstrate through hashtag-unrelated actions, that they meant business. That they were not wajingas.

  • But as amnesia is one of the cultures so tightly embraced, we’ll soon be drawn back to the comfort of our complacency.

Every line in King Kaka’s searing rap song Wajinga Nyinyi jabs like a big, fat truth needle. It is disturbing (because it refuses to let you just bob your head to its lyrics and move on) and is marked by angry, pseudo-rhythmic expressions and acid paradoxes about the endemic foolishness of Kenyans which I don’t need to repeat here because we know it too well. It’s our foolishness, after all.

CONSCIENCE

Preachers and politicians are thrown into the same big pot and the temperatures in the stove set just right by the artiste, judging from the reactions so far.

Some have labelled the song and the artist revolutionary. But to show reverence for this word in this context, which slips too easily from the mouths of Kenyans, would be sacrilege of the highest degree, given that there are artistes before him who lay their lives on the line — perhaps not literally — in their artivism (combination of art and activism). To be fair though, the rapper swore in Wajinga Nyinyi that he’s unafraid of death.

If the rapper's intention was to raise the conscience of the nation about its obvious shortcomings, then he may have succeeded in his artvism... but this is a well–beaten path trodden by others in song and literature. These are artistes like Eric Wainaina who, in his seminal anti-corruption song Nchi Ya Kitu Kidogo, basically said a country where people accept bribes is a country of small people. As in a country of wajingas.

MOTIVATION

Literary luminary Ngugi wa Thiong’o, in his play Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want), castigates the betrayal of the Kenyan people by post-independence Africans. Joseph Kamaru once upset political powers so much with his song Mahoya ma Bururi (Prayers for the Nation), that former President Daniel arap Moi offered him Sh800,000 to translate the song into Kiswahili in what he suspected was a move to stop him from selling the Kikuyu version, according to an article published by the Daily Nation.

Another question that refuses to go away is that of the motivation behind Wajinga Nyinyi, seeing as a cursory look at the arsenal of social media posts from the rapper suggest he's a man revelling in the publicity the rap song has created.

And now that we know King Kaka’s words are nothing fresh or original, and could easily have been copied word for word from local newspaper headlines, why are they still considered revolutionary?

HASHTAG

Its viral nature (the video amassed millions of views in a short while) suggest that the euphoria surrounding it might have been built by the clicks. Or perhaps it's the high profile endorsements the song earned that got us all excited. That the artiste promptly reported being summoned by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on social media also smacks of limelight-hogging, or perhaps a fulfilment of the prophecy in his song where he rapped: Swali / How do you sleep at night knowing mkono yako imeua (you have killed people). Not close to purity / Wordsmith King Kaka arrested for fighting impunity.

The hype around Wajinga Nyinyi certainly raises more questions than answers and no hashtag on earth can answer them fully. Only God knows.

What's unquestionable, however, is that in one swift, viral move, the artiste, who some have accused of doublespeak, pricked the consciousness of a country by forcing people to look at themselves, not unlike Sauti Sol and Nyashinski in their collabo Tujiangalie where they urged us to slow down, introspect and reflect on our shortcomings, but whose success was less resounding, if talkability or shareability is used as a measure.

COMPLACENCY

King Kaka’s rap song would be revolutionary if the majority of keyboard warriors, nay, Kenyans were actually stirred enough to leave the comfort of their keyboards and hashtags and demonstrate, through hashtag-unrelated actions, that they meant business. That they were not wajingas. But as amnesia is one of the cultures so tightly embraced, we’ll soon be drawn back to the comfort of our complacency.

Next song, please.

The writer comments on social issues; Twitter: @FaithOneya. Email: