Maandamano or perish: No middle ground for celebs

A collage of MC Jessy and Butita.

The last few days have been a clear message to celebrities that they are born of the streets, for the streets and to the streets. Celebrities climbed down their high horses, buckled up, rolled their sleeves and hit the streets for Kenya.  

While for some it was the most natural thing to do, some had to be coaxed out of their homes and threatened to acknowledge the monumental event taking place. 

Amerix, an online personality hell-bent on showing men a better way to live, schooled Eddie Butita, who was in the US with the President recently, on what he needed to do lest his fans abandoned him. 

“I am talking to you. The future of your creative works is in your audience. Listen to your audience,” he said, addressing the comic and producer, whose hugely popular Nurse Toto series has kept millions glued. 

“Don’t explain. Go to YouTube and create a 10-minute promo that rejects the Finance Bill. That is what artistes do. I am not begging you.” 

Butita is among celebrities who had chosen to be positive about the regime and even represented content creators on more than one platform with the State. 

Rapper Khaligraph Jones also put MC Jessy, a UDA supporter and aspirant in the last election to task, asking him, “Lakini Jesse, what is your stand on this Finance Bill? Nime-scroll account sijaona kama una-reject?”

MC Jessy, who loudly proclaimed his stand last Friday during the late Fred’s Omondi’s Last Laugh show at the Carnivore Restaurant, answered back, writing, “My brother, it’s true. I campaigned for this government openly. I was at the forefront of the celebration when William Ruto Won. Even video evidence is there. 

“At that time, I was very hopeful about his administration. I knew my agenda of the creative economy would be achieved. Our CS for creative has not done what is necessary for the creatives. And he knows that very well. I am also tired of pushing them. I am tired of just talks and promises.”

Kate Actress, Nameless, and Abel Mutua were also put on the spot and pushed to delcare their stand. Nameless was later spotted attending the protests with his wife Wahu.

Kate Actress [Instagram]

A show of solidarity

Langata MP Phelix ‘Jalan’go’ Odiwuor, a President Ruto ally, went through a tough week of criticism that finally landed him to okay the ‘No’ column in Parliament. 

“As a millennial working with Gen Z creatives through Sauti Za Mabinti, I understand the impact of the Finance Bill 2024 on our financial future,” said Nimo Futuristic, an industry insider facilitating the voices of female artistes. 

“It is important for artistes and celebrities to participate in the protests as we can amplify public concerns, show solidarity and signal to policymakers that the creative community is committed to a better future for all.” 

The writer is a member of an artistes’ WhatsApp group and witnessed first-hand as Benga supremo Dan ‘Chizi’ Aceda, one of the admins, went nuclear as he removed the likes of Nameless, Jalan’go and others for not making their stand public.

Reading the signs, Butita crossed the floor with a five paragraph statement posted on his social media. 

The demos were a festival of sorts; photo shoots, impromptu performances, dance face-offs, freestyle sessions, banter, creative banners, and live music video shoots. 

It was a showcase of what is truly Kenyan in the matatu culture, animation space, DIY videos of how to dress up, and up-to-date software that appropriated AI to mimic, ridicule and paint politicians as comics.  

But in all the fanfare that was also punctuated by death, injury and destruction of property, celebrities came out in droves to agitate for what a big chunk of the country felt. 

With attempts to tax content, and equipment, which touched on their livelihoods, they had extra motivation to turn up.

Conscious rapper Kaa La Moto, the most famous face in the Mombasa chapter of the unrest, could be heard severally shouting “We are peaceful! We are peaceful,” while walking or running through the port city. 

“This is democracy,” he said, “Harakati za kupigani haki na uchumi wa taifa. Yote hata ni kwa ajili ya kutaka kuskizwa kama wananchi! (The agitation to fight for rights and the economy of our country. All of this is done to be listened to as wananchi.)

DJs played their part with a scheduled 10 minutes of defiance planned for midnight Saturday, while the likes of Mugithi artiste Waithaka wa Jane choreographed his fans to reject the Finance Bill in his live show. 

Even introverts like the civil rights leader Juliani, came out, Sueh Owino dumped her next domesticated animal ready for slaughter for a placard, as did Nyashinski, who was chill as ever in a volatile environment. 

Sueh Owino [Instagram]

The soft-spoken singer, songwriter, composer and deejay, Tina Ardor spoke loud through banners, while Chef Wa Eastlando, the mysterious chef was conspicuously present.

DJ Grauchi, who has a hugely popular online session aptly named The Wake Up Call, hyped the crowd next to MC Gogo, while Kibera’s very own Octopizzo swagged his way around the running crowd.

Celebrity baddies dumped their make-up for toothpaste,   armed to the eye for what is a standard initiation into the demo industry in Kenya, a strong whiff of teargas (revolutionary scents), as Femi One discovered, or in an unfortunate event, a champagne of water at immense speeds.

As the voice artiste and influencer Queen Gathoni said, “I’m so glad I didn’t stay at home!”

Adelle Onyango stood tall BreederLW said ’Gotha tena’, Crazy Kennar masked up and led the Thika Road battalion into town, while Wololo TV’s King Julius did it ‘for Eric Omondi’, who was absent in last Thursday’s demos as he mourned Fred Omondi.

But he was back on Friday, riding a horse to Parliament, where he was theatrically arrested. 

“It’s affecting all of us,” explained Nimo, adding, “We are not saved or spared. We suffer equally, thus, we are with the people speaking one voice. We are Kenya!”

The Gospel fraternity joined in, with the likes of Richard ‘A-Star’ Njau, Ben Cyco, Collo all representing. 

Ben Cyco [Instagram]

Khaligraph printed ‘OGs Reject’ merchandise, as did Rong Rende, the collective that houses Wakadinali, Diana Codes, Skillo and others, doing the same.

Four years ago Wakadinali and Sir Bwoy released a song titled Kuna Siku Youths Wataungana, and it came to pass these last days, as a tribeless, partyless and fearless demographic went to the front to lead an entire country ahead. 

Wataungana wafanye mambo, RIP kwa Msando, Westy to Eastlando, wataungana wafanye mambo, wataungana wafanye mambo,” the chorus goes.

“The power will always belong to the people,” said Nyashinski, hand up in the air in defiance, as the world watched. 

Former comedian, cartoonist and current MP for Dagoretti South John Kiarie (KJ) had to backtrack on his claims that the crowds that turned up last week were ‘photoshopped,’ finally admitting in a handwritten letter that his words “were unnecessary, misguided and insensitive.”

It was not lost on many that KJ seems to now embody the same caricature he played in his past comedic skits.


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