Nonini's tweet over music royalties spurs meeting with copyright board

Rapper Nonini. [Courtesy]

Kenyan musician Nonini, whose real name is Hubert Nakitare, has actively taken steps toward addressing concerns over copyright and royalty management for artists in Kenya.

Nonini recently shared on Instagram his engagement with key government officials, including Joshua Kutuny, the Chairman of the Kenya Copyright Board, and Edward Sigei, the Executive Director, alongside Honorable Aisha Jumwa.

“So funny how a simple Tweet brought all these things. I'm still in shock at how that happened but we Thank God. We don't use his name randomly. Asante sana Hon Aisha Jumwa ,” wrote Nonini.

The meeting centered on discussions about the performance of licensed Collective Management Organizations (CMOs), the management of royalties through the e-Citizen platform, and the potential establishment of a Government-operated collective management organization.

The move to channel all payments through the e-Citizen platform aligns with a directive from the Presidency, aiming at enhancing transparency and efficiency in the collection and distribution of royalties.

This initiative is seen as a pivotal step towards safeguarding the interests of artists in Kenya, ensuring they receive their rightful earnings.

“The ministry is looking at directing all payments through the ecitizen platform in line with Presidential directive. This may include the collection of royalties through ecitizen platform which is under active consideration,” read Nonini’s post.

The discussions also touched on the Draft Copyright Bill, which is currently pending a Cabinet decision. Both parties agreed on the importance of involving all stakeholders in the conversation to foster a more inclusive and improved industry landscape.

“I emphasized on the need for accountability in the sector especially on the royalties that are a source of income for thousands of artists in the country. I wish to urge investigative agencies to expedite their investigations into alleged mismanagement of funds at the Music copyright Society of Kenya,” concluded Nonini.

Nonini's proactive stance comes in the wake of a public spat with Ezekiel Mutua, the Chief Executive Officer of the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), over allegations of financial mismanagement within the organization.

Nonini, through his legal team, refuted Mutua's allegations, asserting his absence of any criminal warrants and demanding the removal of Mutua's social media posts and a public apology.

The legal notice read, "It is obvious that you were not privy to the tenure of our client at PRISK and you are misinformed about MPAKE as our client never served at any position there."

This statement was part of a broader defense against Mutua's allegations, which labeled Nonini a "fugitive" and accused him of embezzling musicians' money.

The advocate's letter defended Nonini's integrity and contributions to the industry: "Our client instructs us that he is not a fugitive and he was in the country for the last one month and no warrants of his arrest were issued and neither was he summoned to any police station for questioning."

The dispute was initially ignited by Nonini's claim regarding the disproportionate distribution of royalties collected in 2023, prompting a defense from MCSK highlighting their transparency and payouts to artists.

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