THE SCRAMBLE AND PARTITION FOR AFRICA

This post is long overdue. As many of you are aware Sauti Sol was Kenya’s representative at the 2014 MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs). It was easily the most colorful event of its kind in the continent. Man! Doesn’t MTV know how to throw a party! I was of course star-truck half the time. I mean who am I kidding? I got the chance to sit next to Tiwa Savage (my future baby mama) for the whole 2hrs 26minute-long ceremony. When she won her award she shook my hand by reflex and I felt like a flock of birds jumped out my ass. Not quite sure if she felt the same though! But she seemed calm and collected for a woman sitting next to a star-struck Bienaime breathing heavily down her neck. That for me was the award. I left the anxiety of the actual thing to the rest of my boys.

On a more serious note, I have never felt so outnumbered in my life. The scramble and partition of Africa had began and I didn’t quite feel like The Great Britain. A general sense of underdog was in my mind but that was expected. Shocking, however, was there’s a lot about East Africa known out there. Many artists talked to me about Nishike; also asking about Camp Mulla and Fundamendoz and much more. So how come industry players in these regions know so much about us, our potential and talents but not their countries’ citizens. I have come to the sad conclusion that Kenya is just one of their musical colonies; and as any colonial masters, at MAMAs, they were up to beat everything happening in their conquered territories.

Having studied Journalism, I recall a unit called International Mass Media. The main focus of that particular class was the Americanization of the world, and how MTV and Hollywood are by far the biggest exports of that great nation. Well for as long as I can remember South Africa and Nigeria have been our sole dealers for the drug that is African content’s entertainment. So the situation is just like how missionaries preached a religion that seemed superior to ours; it has paved way for what is now the colonization of our airwaves.

S.A music has always been big from the days of Lucky Dube, Brenda Fassie, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Mandoza and a younger Mafikizolo, just to name a few. Channel O made us all subscribe to the culture and feel-good aura that was Kwaito music, fashion and dance. On TV we all appreciated Egoli Place of Gold and still subscribe to other S.A programs like Jacob’s Cross, Isindigo and Generations. And now – well, the continental ripple that is Mzanzi music.

Then came the Nigerians; who in the beginning had an influx of low quality movies fill our TV stations. We all despised them in the beginning. But let’s face it at some point we gave it a chance and look where they are now. No, look at where we are. We all have a Naija side to us when we talk and want to be seen as funny haha!!!! Their music came as a parallel force to the movies. When 2face dropped African Queen and P Square came on to the scene, it was the beginning of the Naijarization of Africa. Now they set the standard, they decide what’s cool, what’s in and what’s African.

With Naija and S.A—the two superpowers collaborating, now more than ever the result is an explosive takeover of our airwaves. After travelling to both S.A and Nigeria I realize they have one thing in common. They both have industries and structures that date back at least 20 years. So as Kenyans on twitter went HAM on Sauti Sol for not winning against Mafikizolo, please note that when Mafikizolo sang Ndiahamba Mnawe or Meet you at the river, Sauti Sol was in standard four listening to HardStone (1997).

Second and most important, these guys are gatekeepers of their territory. Rarely do you find a song from another part of the continent being given massive airplay in their media. Unless of course it’s a breakout monster hit like Flavor’s Ashawo or Mafikizolo’s khona. I was shocked to realize very few people in SA are familiar with P Squares catalogue; and vice versa the bulk of Nigerians heard Mafikizolo for the first time after they collaborated with Mr. MayD. This means that at any given time their local scene pops and stands out from the rest. Only in Kenya will you find a station that dedicates shows to the best Naija/Mzanzi music. In Nigeria I doubt there is any, and certainly not in SA. When a people are consumed so much by their product it becomes contagious and spills over to the rest of the continent.

If Kenyan media and society at large makes the conscious decision to shut out influences from other cultures for as little as a month, we would see a huge difference. A few years back I remember it was cool to say out loud you listen to local music. It ruled all charts and countdowns; Necessary Noise for example had their own songs dethroning each other on the charts. How cool was that? Remember when bumping a local CD in your car was deemed sexy? Now all of a sudden many of us have become too cool for it. As artists I believe we need to pull up our socks by making power moves and hits on behalf of our region. We can point fingers all we want and say radio and DJs don’t play enough local music, and then they say our songs are shit; or we can shut the door and put our house in order. It would be so much cooler to have five or more nominees at the MAMAs next year. This would definitely guarantee us a win. At the end of the day we all need each other to survive and build lasting legacies that will benefit generations of entertainers to come.

Love Bien Aime,

Dedix: To Tiwa Savage: We KamuNonini

                                                      Mtoto mzuri- Nonini

                                                      FireSize 8 (whichever one, before or after Salvation)

Turn around/ geukaMadtraxx

                                                      Sinzia – Nameless

                                                      Missing my baiby– Amani

                                                      KookooElani

                                                      KipepeoJaguar

Love and Other Drugs

My name is Bienaime, which is French for well loved. Shout-out to my parents for not calling me Pius, SosPeter, Paul etc. I just feel it would have seriously affected my turnover as far as the other gender is concerned. My name is testament to the myth that names beget people, and what you call your child is what it becomes. All my life I have only looked to be loved. I’ve been a performer for as far as I can remember. Growing up a lastborn I always wanted the spotlight (shit!!!! I can’t believe the number of times the letter ‘I’ is already used in this post).

Years later all this has come to pass. (God is Faithful) I have a successful music career with an amazing band of equally blessed individuals. Sauti Sol is a MANBAND, and rightfully so we sell emotions to people, especially women. An emotion that lacks manual or formula, an emotion called love. It has taken me a while to realize that for the longest time I never really understood what I was singing about when I said nikikuwaza usiku silali (when I think of you I can’t sleep). Maybe I was too young for it or I genuinely hadn’t felt this emotion. Kinda like Michael Jackson singing about it at seven years old; but I guess my innocence drove the message home.

My blessing of a name is indeed also my curse. I have this condition commonly known as serial monogamy (coach Kavutha’s diagnosis); where I’m constantly in or transitioning through relationships due to my thirst for constant affection from a woman. I just don’t know how to be single or how to enjoy solitude; and its pissing me off because right about now I feel needy; need to always want to be with another. Nothing sexual by the way, just companionship. (Well, I know you don’t believe me but if you’re going to keep reading my posts you have to trust me) so in the attempt to fall in love I kissed many frogs.

I’ve been in love only once in my 26 years of breath. She was the sweetest thing ever (well of course before I screwed it up big-time with my then cheating /boyish ways) I have since become a man and a lot on that end has changed. We however mended fences and are cool to this date (at least I feel so) our relationship was founded on all the right things. We were friends first, then lovers. We knew each other for around five months until one day I realized I miss her more than usual and the rest is history. She wouldn’t let me touch or kiss her until we were official. And when I eventually did I felt butterflies. Sweet huh!!!!

There after I’ve been in situationships. I call them so because they lack the basic friendship foundation and dive deep into a rollercoaster of emotional steroids. We meet and I start hitting on you on the spot. Then we hang out a couple of times later, do the deed on repeat basis and one day you introduce me as your boyfriend and I don’t mind how it sounds. Then we start to realize we lack common interests. That I fart loudly in my sleep and it pisses you off. Basically we come to the realization that besides great sex we speak different languages of life. I’m a Jazz-head you’re a Trap-head, I talk events you talk people. But at this point we’ve invested so much in it that when one person cuts loose it ends up hurting the other pretty badly.

Unfortunately my career makes it very hard for me to meet genuine people for love interests. I just can’t ask a chic out on a date without her anticipating me to bust a move. Some simply say no because of pre-sets in their mind telling them I’m a hit n run!!! (Your loss) I’ve stopped looking for love in all the wrong places. I’ve taken a step back to re-examine myself and hopefully in my quest for greatness the universe will align me with someone who compliments/completes me. For now, I just want to know your name and maybe sometime we could hook up, hangout just chill. (musicsoulchild).