By ALLAN OLINGO
My roommate in university enjoyed playing vernacular songs, especially those of Musa Juma, Omondi Tonny, DO Misiani, Osogo Winyo, Ramogi and tens of benga and ohangla songs. I wondered how he could enjoy these songs 24 hours a day. But with time, I started appreciating his genre of music, whose themes were based on our history, politics and love.
One of them caught my attention. It captured the politics of the day. After the 2002 elections, President Kibaki allegedly didn’t honour a memorandum of understanding he had signed with other leaders before the elections.
This situation prompted the late DO Misiani to compose the song, Bim en Bim (a baboon will always remain a baboon).
In this song, Misiani starts his narrative, talking in the first person, by addressing all the animals on earth.
Baboons and other animals
Misiani sings: “I am talking to all animals, in the oceans and birds . . . I want to talk about baboons, whether out in the wild or domesticated. A baboon, when you try to feed it, it will snatch the food from your hand, and even try to take over what you had left. I once met a baboon, which had been beaten. It had broken legs. I decided to help and took it to hospital. As soon as it recovered, the baboon invited all its relatives to my house and took over.”
There was no prize for guessing whom he was referring to.
Then Misiani was lucky that the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) hadn’t been formed, but the latest casualties might not be as lucky.
The contentious songs are Mwaka wa Hiti loosely translated as ‘Year of the Hyena’ by John De Mathew, Muigai wa Njoroge’s Hague Bound and Uhuru ni Witu (Uhuru is Ours) by Kamande wa Kioi.
Kioi sings: “You thump your chest about the Hague, is the Hague your mother? God cursed you. The Philistines couldn’t lead Israel because they were uncircumcised.
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