Music and politics: no longer strange bedfellows.
During the last elections, politicians were falling over themselves to get celebrities endorsements.
The move was neither new nor groundbreaking as Obama had used it successfully; he got endorsed by the likes of George Clooney, Jay Z and Oprah. Following his script, Kenyan politicians began to approach musicians.
But the difference between the politics here and those in America began to manifest. Fans begun to take sides and if their favourite artists supported the “wrong” camp, they were booted from the playlist. That same scenario has been repeating itself of late as the elections get closer.
I remember having a word with Anto Neosoul about the same issue. Anto was of the opinion that Kenyan artists should wake up and smell the coffee. We as a populace aren’t at the level of political maturity where we can differentiate an individual’s political beliefs and philosophies from the artist. And when i asked him why artists are still falling over themselves to be associated with politicians, his response was simple and incisive: “Money!”
Is the money offered enough to potentially damage your career over? Think about it. Our politics has taken such a deplorable ethnic twist that anyone who endorses a politician runs the risk of being labelled a tribalist. While it’s all well and good to use your talent and skill to put a meal on the table, our artistes should be careful who they associate their brand with.
But when is it okay to associate with politicians? How about during philanthropic missions? But as Jaguar has shown, our artists don’t need political patronage to give back to the community.
The only time i think it’s okay to associate with our current crop of politicians is if you intend to delve into the murky world of politricks. If say, you want to go into politics as Ringtone did, then by all means, associate with all the politicians you can. But then, by definition you stop being an artist and become a politician. That is what i respect the most about Youssur N’dour. He has made that distinction clear. He is no longer an artiste, he is a leader and a politician.
But a word of caution, the love your audience had for you will wittle away once you become a political leader. Leadership is about making the hard decisions that no one else has the balls to make. It’s about getting people to tighten their belts today for a better tomorrow. No one likes being told to go through the desert to get to Canaan!