Ruto Must Go: Youth-led protests escalate in nightclubs across Kenya

Citizens demonstrate along the streets of Nairobi's CBD to reject the Finance Bill. June 20, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Chants of 'Ruto Must Go' reverberated in nightclubs in cities and major towns across the country as Generation Z took their campaign against Finance Bill 2024 a notch higher.

Videos shared on social media showed that nightclubs in Nairobi, Nakuru, and Eldoret cities and major towns of Kericho, Narok and Naivasha broke into Ruto Must Go and Reject Finance Bill chants around Saturday midnight as the push to have Kenya Kwanza government drop the Bill intensified.

In what appeared as well-coordinated night protests, Disk Jockeys (DJs) in the nightclubs stopped the music and led revellers in the chants.

For between 15 to 30 minutes, Timba XO club and Tamasha clubs in Eldoret, Space Next Door and Platinum 7D in Nakuru City broke into wild chants against the Bill and the president.

What started last week as anger on TikTok about the controversial Finance Bill has morphed into a revolt that is likely to be a sustained political conscience to defend the Constitution.

Those behind the protest have not only kept the protest on the streets of Nairobi, but they spread across other cities and major towns.

They have taken it to social places as was witnessed last Saturday night.

The nightclub protest was also well-coordinated and mobilized on social media on Saturday morning via Space chat on Twitter.

Titus Odhiambo, alias DJ Montana had it rough in Kitale as his plan of nonstop music night in a nightclub was interrupted by both intoxicated and sober revellers.

Speaking to The Standard, Montana said he was interrupted more than 20 times and directed to stop the music before the revellers burst into ‘Reject Finance Bill 2024!’ chants.

“It was a difficult night because we are never used to interruptions. But if we refused to stop the music, the Gen Zs would turn against us and order us removed from our machines,” said Montana.

He said those intoxicated were worse because they shouted at him and other DJs to stop the music.

At some point, Montana said the youths were no longer interested in the hype music but they instead, wanted patriotic songs including the national anthem played.

The DJ insisted that the fact that finance bill is being fought inside nightclubs should be a warning to the government that Kenyans are not happy.

In videos clips and photos captured by revellers and posted in social media, rowdy youths were heard singing the ‘Ruto must Go!’ chants in nightclubs in Nairobi, Eldoret, Thika, Narok among other counties.

In a video clip from a Westlands Club, a DJ was heard leading the youths in a Swahili song “Kitu gani kitaningenga na Yesu Mwokozi wangu, Ni Finance Bill? (What will separate me from Jesus Christ, is it Finance Bill)?”

“Hapana nimekataa kabisa (No we have totally refused),” answered the revellers.

The DJ then played the ‘Utawala’ song by Juliani, a song depicting a hungry Kenyan who stands and fights against corruption, nepotism, tribalism and discrimination.

In another clip in Thika, Night club promoters were seen displacing an animation screen with ‘Reject Finance Bill’ sign as they moved around the nightclub.

In Tamasha Lounge in Eldoret, Uasin Ngishu County, youths chanted ‘Ruto must go’ as the music stopped for almost five minutes.

The same was witnessed in Suswa, Narok, where they observed a one-minute silence for Generation Z’s effort to fight against the Finance Bill.

Another clip from Nairobi showed a DJ ordering electric lights to be switched off, before instructing the youths to use their mobile phones’ light.

He then played the national anthem as youths burst into tunes singing loudly and passionately.

“They have abused us as youths and now is the time for us to stand up and fight back because this is our country and we are not going anywhere,” the DJ was heard saying.

The chants and protests followed a ‘7 day of rage’ poster seen by The Standard, outlining action points to be taken by protesting Kenyans in the lead up to the main protest on Tuesday this week.

Among the plans included singing the anti Ruto chants and patriotic songs at exactly midnight in all nightclubs, for about 10 minutes.

Another poster, 'Reject Hour', instructed all nightclubs to stop music lists from 11:59 PM to 12:09 PM and pave the way for ‘Reject Finance Bill’ chants.

Kenyans observed the 10-minute protest session with some remaining silent, some singing protest songs, while others singing the national anthem.

At Cavalli in Nairobi, revellers joined in singing the Eric Wainaina classic "Daima".

Even at a local pub in Karatina, drunks stood up and chanted, "Reject Finance Bill".

At Platinum 7D in Nakuru, DJ Grauchi told revellers, "Tunaanza like this..." and then played Juliani's 'Utawala'.

At Yatch Lounge in Mtwapa, DJ Joe Mfalme led Kenyans in observing a moment of silence for murdered protester Rex Kanyike.

Viona Nyambura, a reveller, said she was a proud Kenyan and for once in her life, she felt she was doing more than just partying in nightclubs.

“Today it was different. It did not feel like a normal nightclub routine and we felt the togetherness of Kenyans as we joined hands in chanting against the finance bill,” she said.