What compelled entertainers to politics
The temperatures in the Kenya’s political arena are rising by day, and creatives are not being left behind. A good number of personalities in the showbiz scenes have since declared their ambitions to run for different elective positions in the August polls. Harriet James seeks to find out what compelled them to vie.
This year, the political scene has seen the entry of many entertainment celebrities. Former rapper, radio host and events emcee Davidson Ngibuini aka DNG has expressed interest in representing residents of the Woodley-Kenyatta Golf Course Ward in the Nairobi county assembly, while Churchill Show comedian Jasper Muthomi aka MC Jessy is also in the race for the South Imenti parliamentary seat. Both DNG and Jessy are running on a United Democratic Alliance (UDA) ticket.
Most of them are crying out for change, desiring to see a new wave in how things are run at the top in the country. For instance, comedian, events host and radio presenter Felix Odiwuor alias Jalang’o recently announced his ambitions to run for the Lang’ata parliamentary seat on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ticket. In his interviews, he has stated that his reason for vying is for the change.
“There is very little you can do to society if you are not influential. I want to go and make a difference in Lang’ata and make them great again,” says Jalang’o.
From past experiences
Following her triumphant battle with endometriosis, popular reggae aficionado and radio host Njambi Koikai aka Fyah Mummah is also seeking to be the next legislator for Dagoretti South Constituency in nairobi as an independent candidate. Having been born and raised in Dagoretti by a single mother, she feels that the experiences that she faced while growing up have equipped her to be the best candidate.
“Growing up in Dagoretti, I experienced the harsh living conditions due to lack of resources. The spirit of community and service to others was instilled in me at an early age because we had to take care of each other as family, neighbours and friends,” says Njambi, whose campaign is set for an official launch on March 13, at the Riruta Stadium.
Dancehall musician and events emcee Naftal Migisi aka Miggy Champ is in the race to serve his people in Magenche Ward, Bomachoge Borabu constituency in Kisii county.
“Music has made me visit every corner of this country and when I compare my ward with the rest, I am just sorry. We are so behind in development. Poverty is on the rise and this is what I want to tame. Same way I have put Gusii on the world map through music, is the same way I want to put Magenche Ward on the map. So far, what I have learnt about politics is that there is a lot of rough games, but I don’t fear that because I have God. Thus my slogan Yeso Atotang’ane meaning “We put God Forth”. If I lose, I will still be helping and giving back to the community that brought me up in my small way,” the Falling Falling hit singer intimates to Spice.
Gospel artiste Roy Smith Mwatia aka Rufftone believes that there is a huge disconnect between leaders and their people, a reason why young people must rise and be in politics. “Even when people elect new leaders, they would after some time lose touch with the people and forget where they came from. So, I said can I be the first one who would get in there and not forget the people?” he poses.
Having been brought up in both Nairobi and Kakamega counties, he believes he has what it takes to fight for justice in Nairobi county as the cities next senator. “I was just telling my wife if I don’t do this now, when and where will I stand? The Senate seat doesn’t have a kitty where a person can start to eat people’s money and that’s why I’m choosing it. I want to defend the rights of the people ensuring that the national cake is equally distributed to everyone in Nairobi. I want to ensure that the money allocated to the office of the governor gets to the intended people,” says Rufftone.
He says although his campaigns have been tough, easy, fun, and expensive, understanding the minds of the voters has been challenging. “People see me as a musician and not a senator or leader, which has been tough convincing some of them, but we are ready to take that challenge. I would advise anyone desiring to do this not to start if God hasn’t sent you. Politics is dirty and it also takes one away from family and friends too,” notes Rufftone.
Desire for change
On his part, DNG desires to bring change through educating people on how to make better choices during elections, to push for accountability, and encourage better governance. He is doing this through an initiative dubbed ‘Who is your leader?’.
“People think that politics happens only when you are the president, governor, MP or an MCA. Politics is concerned about everything; politics is the art of governance. We want good servant leadership and good governance; that’s all we are asking for. We don’t need politicians who don’t care about their citizens,” he says.
Reuben Ogolla aka Baraka Mwafrika is an Afro-fusion musician who has announced his ambitions to vie for the Roysambu MCA seat. He says the campaigns have been tough, since a majority of the electorate have been conditioned to believe that they must be bribed before voting.
“Many people believe that during and after campaigns, politicians are supposed to be giving them money, which makes it difficult convincing them to vote for me because I am not offering that. They should be voting not based on the incentives, but based on who I am and what I’m capable of doing. Voting based on incentives or tribal lines is one thing that I’m trying to change in this country,” says Mwafrika who has been in the music industry for 10 years now.
In addition, he finds it tough convincing older people to vote for him. “Young people are not taken very seriously by the elderly and even by their own peers, making it difficult to campaign. My drive is to prove to Kenyans that the political landscape of the country is already changing and that they better be ready for serious, selfless young men and women who are ready and already devoted their lives to defend and protect Kenyan’s interests and not their own,” he states.
Mwafrika intimates that throughout history, the system has not been supportive to the youths, saying that many youths in leadership spaces have worked so hard and pushed so hard to earn respect in their respective positions. He adds that what’s needed in today’s politics are more spaces and opportunities for the youth, true gender equality and honour for the elders. Mwafrika advices other young creatives planning to engage in politics or run for office not to be, but step out and campaign.
“It’s time to come out boldly, strategise artistically with all the creativity that you possess, put people first in your agenda and let’s change the game together. As creative, we understand well what the society is going through,” he notes.
About proper representation
Pianist and music producer Denis Right Owuor is in the running for an MCA seat in Upper Savannah Ward in Embakasi East. He says his desire is to see the mindsets of Kenyans change towards politics. “I’ve learnt that there’s no permanent rivalry in politics. How I wish that the people of Kenya would change their mindset about politics and understand that elections will come and go, but we will remain as friends and neighbours and by the end of the day assist each other in diverse ways,” he tells Spice.
Having participated in community service for quite some time through his local area administration, Dennis has noted that people in his locality lack proper representation in parliament. “Our youths keep on complaining of being used and dumped by politicians, but am here not to give them the fish, but to show them how to fish; that is what our youth need. I believe when we empower our youths, we’ll ease the burden to our parents and grow our economy to greater levels,” he says.
Recently, actor Dorea Chege—popularly known for her acting exploits in the TV drama show Maria—also declared her bid for the Nairobi Woman Rep seat in the August polls. More showbiz celebs who have announced their political ambitions include artistes Gabu and Frasha of the Genge group P-Unit, gospel singer Loise Kim, vocalist and guitarist Peter Mbau of Sarabi Band, TV presenter Jamal Gadaffi, VDJ Jones, former Kameme FM presenter Njogu wa Njoroge and rapper CMB Prezzo. Others are Maji Maji (of the Unbwogable fame), Churchill Show comedian Professor Hamo, former K24 news anchors Mwanaisha Chidzuga and Tony Kwalanda and actor Dennis Mugo aka OJ.