By Charles Opondo – Sarakasi Event
From Socrates’ ancient Greek civil society to modern civil society, activism has become society’s consciousness. An instrument of measure, to test whether a society is alive or not. Often defined by the presence of masses that stay woke on issues around them and call for accountability on all those responsibilities has been bestowed upon them at different levels. In a more direct term “an actively engaged society”. The members of this resolute society will come from all disciplines and backgrounds. However, one background that has stood out has been that of the arts.
Unlike the rigid proceedings of the courtroom to the sessions of parliament, art has become an instrument that marries all issues in society in a more simplified manner and comprehensible by society. Songs such as “Nchi Ya kitu kidogo” by Eric Wainana will be sung addressing the endemic nature of corruption in Kenya. Highlighting how corruption has eaten up different sectors of society and will be brought to the attention of all whether mighty or low. In the end, acting as an incentive for action. Moreover, Art has not only become a motive for action but has also been part of the action, especially in protests as songs and drawings have been used to keep the march alive resounding the course of the march.
However, even as we stay indebted to the tremendous work that art has done in driving societal change, there is still the need to reimagine artistic activism. Often in the present time, we have witnessed a relative decline of artistic activism. Where poets have not become the lyrical legislators as described by Dr. Cornel West, musicians not being the embodiment of change in their melodies, and drawers not drawing the actual situation of the society. However, what has been witnessed is the use of art to strive for selfish ambitions in that songs have been sung in vulgar language, at times art has become an instrument of insult for fellow artists and many such vices.
Artists now have to take their position as agents of change, with the youthful artists taking the lead sounding change even more. Also with the current growing call for political inclusion, artistic activists should not shy off from holding political offices but should be actively engaged. Taking the positions that can be used to whip change and advance the change they want to see. Finally, in reimagining artistic activism, artists should pull more from the potential that stands in the digital space by leveraging creativity.
Change is possible , all that we need is to be engaged.