Politicians have their own interests

Tuesday December 24 2019


The power of music cannot be taken for granted. Especially considering that the majority of the population is youthful, it is one of the best forms to communicate a message. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By The EastAfrican

The power of music cannot be taken for granted. Especially considering that the majority of the population is youthful, it is one of the best forms to communicate a message.

One of the first CDs that I bought while in university was by Bob Marley. I was surprised to find it being sold side-by-side with those of upcoming artistes. Marley died decades ago, but somehow his music is still bought to inspire.

A lot of the tracks Marley produced had strong political messages that were hard hitting and honest. These type of songs were played in open spaces and concerts.

The US election of 2016 witnessed several celebrities jumping on the bandwagon of political messages. Sharing their opinions on their political choices and attending campaign rallies.

As the US draws near to another election, we are now witnessing celebrities get vocal on political matters. These include actors, singers, comedians and even authors of novels, commenting on matters of impeachment, and following up with their representatives.

Because of the increase of usage of technology, social media has brought another aspect of engagement that we cannot ignore: feedback. Initially, political figures would rely on information from their aides, or whatever was covered by the media. Hence, the love and hate relationship that governments often have with the fourth estate. Now, through social media, politicians are able to get real time feedback from their voters and critics.


When people are happy, one will know, and when there is dissent, they will surely know, almost like a personal daily poll. There has been an ongoing debate as to whether politicians should be allowed to block people, considering that they are public figures. Some individuals are pushing for US President Donald Trump's block button to be disabled.

We have seen in Kenya, our politicians make very good use of the block button.

In a space where one is difficult to reach in the physical world but a click away virtually, the dynamics of engagement have altered.

It is unfortunate that several Kenyans normally jump to the conclusion that when particular individuals take a political stand they are doing it for attention. Or even worse, they must be working for some politician.

When will we understand that criticism is needed, even to criticise someone that one supports? Constructive criticism can build on better solutions.

The Constitution does provide for freedom of expression and people should be in these very discussions.

Many celebrities have a large following of young people and they are the very people who can speak the truth if they wanted to.

Unfortunately, we have often left it to politicians to tell us what to understand, and that is not a healthy dialogue. They have their own interests and will not necessarily speak for the public always.

Many people are wondering what the hullabaloo is about the release of a song that does not contain any new information. It is not about what was said, but how. The message was delivered home; it was communicated. Songs are repeated, a young person will listen to this song as they commute in a matatu, every day. It is a powerful tool.

Politicians such as Bobi Wine continue to use concerts in Uganda to draw people, and music to pass messages across.

When we view political discourse as part of our daily lives, we would have a more fruitful engagement.

Nerima Wako-Ojiwa is executive director of Siasa Place. Twitter: @NerimaW