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The DJ Afro revolution

By Mikez Michael | August 1st 2016

I haven’t met DJ Afro in person but through a number of movies he has played the role of a commentator just like the legendry football commentator Mohamed Juma Njuguna. Both commentators watch TV thousands of miles away from the scene of action and commentate. Whereas the former does it for movies the latter dwells on the world of sports.

DJ Afro is famed for his discretion in use of language whether vulgar or otherwise. One word he is credited with in the Kenyan linguistic field is ‘Ekemoda’ which is freely used by the youth in their day to day conversations. You wouldn’t like someone to call you ‘ekemoda’ if the tone by which the DJ pronounces it is anything to go by. This word is common reference at pool centers and video shows which are normally jammed by youth who are mostly school dropouts. I am reminded of Video Jacks who can easily be described as the father of Video Shows in Keroka town. He was a lean man with a gait twisted to the right probably as a result the several coins he stocked in his trouser pockets. Most of these coins were shoved into the right trouser pockets for ease of retrieval. You see, Jack as he was called, had a physical deformity in the left hand which made it less functional but not entirely functionless. The left hand stood out because it was short, almost half the size of a normal hand, with four projections that appeared like fingers struggling to grow in vain. On the right hand he normally wore a rather large Seiko 5 wrist watch. Everything Kojack, as he was nicknamed, wore had a purpose.

The Seiko 5 was used to keep track of time as well as knock the heads of young boys who failed or delayed to fish out money from their pockets to pay for a movie. Those that didn't have any coin on them, he referred to them as 'mende' and escorted them out with a light kick. His trousers were strictly baggy jeans - baggy enough with wide pockets to hold several coins and to allow his right hand slip in easily to drop a coin or pull out some to give out change to clients. Few customers gave out notes. Then there was that group that Jack called mafisi (not strictly in the sense the word is used today) who did not pay to watch any movie. To become a fisi one had to have a reputation of a ‘bad boy’ in the town. This came through a number of ways among them smoking weed, starting small fights and roughing up anyone who dared threaten Jacks. Since, due to his physical challenge, Jack wouldn’t ferry the large 21’ Sony TV to and from his house to the video hall everyday it was the role of mafisi.

The TV was used alongside a Sony radio cassette whose speakers projected sound from the video tapes which were played on a UHCR video player - DVC and DVDs were to come much later. The video hall itself was a small room fitted with several forms (benches) spaced closely together with no free space in between. The doorway was covered with a large fabric made of thick material like the one used in making the KTDA gunny bags used to pack tea leaves for ferrying to factories from buying centers. It was difficult to exactly tell the original color as it had changed from one shade to another as a result of the many hands that kept folding it as customers got into and out of the hall.

Its role was to create a dark atmosphere suitable for the illumination from the screen as well as to prevent those who had not paid from watching what was playing on the screen. Though there were about one or two other video shows in the town, Video Jacks was the favorite for its selection of quality movies. On market days, several viewers would be stuffed into the small hall and huddled together on the benches such that no space was left even for turning around. The mixture of cologne and raw odor sharply stung one’s nostril whenever you stood at the door. There was a cocktail of cologne, unwashed bodies, bad breath, cigarette smoke and any other thing that people carried along from wherever they came.

Occasionally, someone would let loose gas to the chagrin of others - of course fingers would be pointed at the small boys normally tightly packed at the front benches. Flash forward and Video Jacks’ tools of trade have since been replaced with flat Sony Bravia screens and home theatres with the video tapes out of sight and in their place DVDs that can hold several movies in one CD unlike the tapes that would only hold one movie. Jack himself has since relocated to his ancestral home somewhere in Migori County. DJ Afro has replaced the voice of the actors in the movies with his witty commentary on every action in the movies. Movie goers have been reduced to mere spectators and listeners to the self-proclaimed DJ’s interpretation of acts. I respect DJ Afro’s creativity but I am not his fan. I miss Video Jacks.

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