Kikuyu Elders Are Wrong, These Songs Are Divisive
Our attention has been brought to media reports in today’s newspapers that a group calling itself The Kikuyu Council of Elders has stated that three songs sung by artistes Kamande wa Kioi, John DeMathew and Muigai Njoroge, which are under investigation by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, are an attack on the Kikuyu community.
As Change Associates and through the KikuyusforChange Platform we are extremely disappointed that the elders [who are expected to understand the need for public figures to be careful in their public utterances] have chosen to present the position that these musicians’ message represents the feelings of the entire Kikuyu community; rather than rebuke them for what are clearly ethnically inciting songs; whatever explanations the artistes might use to defend themselves.
It is our position that the three songs under investigation are hateful and divisive especially when put in the context of processes going on in the country; and a clear and present danger to national cohesion in a country that is still recovering from ethnic-based violence. Statements by any group saying that investigating those behind such songs is an attack against the more than six million-strong Kikuyu community are blatantly untrue.
These elders, who should know better, must be condemned by all Kenyan patriots, both from within the Kikuyu community and from other communities. They have decided to deliberately mislead and misinform Kenyans on an issue that any Kikuyu speaker can confirm is wrong. These musicians do not represent the community, and again we insist that attempts to pool communities to take responsibility for the mistakes of individuals must be resisted by all Kenyans. Kikuyus are not hate-mongers.
Finally we would like to remind Kenyans that before the Rwanda Genocide that led to the death of over one million people, musicians from one of the communities in that country used to sing harmless-sounding songs that spoke of the need to “cut tall trees”. Such songs were okay when literally translated, but extremely hateful and inciting when put in the appropriate context.
The NCIC must therefore bring appropriate context into their investigations of these three artistes. Kenyans are watching and expect them to determine that the three songs in question are dangerous, and that the musicians are actually a threat to our national internal security.
Wambugu Ngunjiri is the head of ChangeAssociates.