One of Kenya’s most experienced and thorough music producers, Jesse Bukindu, says he can feel Christian music when he produces it.
On this note, a war is raging between those who feel that gospel music has been taken too far and too wide to a point that differentiating it from secular music is difficult.
As I pen this, first of all let me acknowledge the view that you can only give what you have, not more. The latest fuel to the fiery buzz has been created by Willy Paul and Size 8’s latest collaboration in the song ‘Tiga Wana’.
The heat has been so much that after the song being on You Tube for slightly over a week, garnering close to half a million views, a majority of the comments being negative, the likes and dislike button has been deactivated. But focusing only on this song would be missing the point.
Another musician, Bahati, known for courting controversy, was at it again apologising on behalf of ‘gospel’ artistes. The ink was yet to dry on his Facebook post before Sauti Sol’s Bien fired back asking him to concentrate on producing music and to stop playing musicians’ moral police.
Producer Bukindu says that in Tanzania, the rules are clear and the public sets the agenda. That’s why musicians like Bahati Bukuku, Bonny Mwaitege, Neema Mwaipopo and Ephraim Sekeleti are darlings to the Christian community in their countries.
And it comes as no wonder that despite what some Kenyans call poor quality videos, the singers still amass a huge following because their music speaks to the soul about God.
In Kenya, the situation is different. The Christian music ministry has been turned into the so-called gospel music industry. And it is controlled by a clique of gatekeepers who determine what they think the public should consume. This clique, the DJs, are in every major TV station controlling what plays in every Christian music programme. They have roped in radio presenters.
One of the most glaring definitions of the ‘industry’ by the Merriam-Webster dictionary states that it is “a distinct group of productive or profit-making enterprises.” Does this mean that the gospel industry is driven by the desire to reap profits at the expense of evangelism? What should be the main aim of Christian music?
While it takes time and money to invest in music, profit must not be the sole reason to support mediocrity and mock God. A youth pastor in the Anglican Church of Kenya says that good Christian music should be timeless; relevant even one hundred years from now.
He opines the ‘Golden Bells’ is one of the most used hymn books that has survived ages because the songs were birthed in the spiritual realm. Singing to keep up with the times is wrong because the church must not be dragged into the world but must strive to draw the world to itself.
For those who support and stick their necks out, the Bible is very clear in Luke 17:1-2 ; “Then he said to the disciples, It is impossible that no offences should come, but woe to him through whom they do. It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend these little ones.”
As Joshua told the people of Israel, I also sign off, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”