Musicians Clash Over Statehouse Visit

Musicians from central Kenya have clashed over the invitation to meet with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House next week.

One faction is blaming a group of musicians from the region of planning to meet the President on Tuesday “for their own selfish gains” and not for the welfare of the artistes.

The President, who promised to host the artistes next Tuesday, spoke during the burial of popular benga musician Joseph Kamara and was responding to pleas by nominated MP Maina Kamanda to sit down with them and discuss how he could help them uplift their living standards.

But the President’s nod to meet with the musicians has now sharply divided them, amid accusations that there is a plan to lock out majority of them from the meeting and have only a selected few visit State House.

One of the musicians, Kamande Wa Kioi, said he was not aware of a plan to ask for the meeting with the President as the proposal had been a well-guarded secret and only heard about it during Mr Kamaru’s burial.

Mr Kioi wondered why those who called for the meeting locked others out, accusing them of using the name of musicians to advance their “own selfish interests”.

“As far as I am concerned, the meeting is not for the musicians because some of us have been kept in the dark about it. In fact, I will not attend because there are no structures and I don’t want to be part of a shoddy and disorganised group,” he told the Nation.

Another veteran Kikuyu musician, Joseph Kariuki, popularly known as Kariuki Wa Kiarutara, said the proposed meeting should be called off as most of the artistes are not aware of it, adding that the President should meet with them at Kasarani to accommodate all of them and to listen to their grievances.

Mr Kariuki accused former directors of the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) of working in cahoots with some musicians to bring divisions ahead of the proposed meeting.

“We have information that former MCSK directors have been arranging meetings with a few of musicians to set the agenda for the meeting. They met at Ridgeways and at Blue Springs Hotel without notifying us,” he said.

Musician Syk Junior said that given that the President invited the artistes to State House next Tuesday, he and others will meet at Kencom bus terminus in Nairobi and head straight to Office of the President.

“Ben Githae and John De’Mathew want to dictate to us on who will go and who will not go. But President was very clear; he invited all of us and not representatives and that is what we will do. We will converge at Kencom, Nairobi and go there as a group,” Junior said.

But according to Mr De’Mathew, a key figure behind the planned meeting, it was pre-planned and even the President was aware of it.

He added that they would involve all musicians in planning the meeting.

He said they had been pushing for the meeting with the President for many years and called on the artistes not to politicise the matter as they mean well for the music industry.

“We can’t all fit at State House but there are plans to involve all the artistes before and after meeting,” he said.

He admitted a meeting was held in Ridgeways and at Blue Springs Hotel in Nairobi but defended it, saying that MCSK met to set the agenda and to exchange contacts with State House.

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