Articles

THE POWER OF ART IN BRINGING SOCIAL JUSTICE

By Sheryl Christine – Sarakasi Event

I have learnt through the years that art that hold so much power and a high magnitude in pinpointing the social injustice the people have to face every day; from land grabbing, police brutality, forceful eviction, modern day slavery, gender based violence, election related malpractice, sexual harassment, unemployment, lack of basic service, torture, maize or sugar importation scandal and national youth service scandal and disparage of men on the basis of their social background, gender, ideology, tribe and age.

Even with the post-colonial period, Kenya is still a colonial and police state that still disparages men and denies them of their basic necessities. This symbolises the fact that independence did not translate into better lives for the many Kenyans, that the socio-economic yoke is still there despite the independence of the flag.

Some Kenyan authors have delved deeper to expose the secrets “siri-kali” within the government. Ngugi Wa Thiong’o(The Devil on the Cross) reflects how the rich exploit the poor in cohorts with western businessmen and all other forms of abuse perpetuated by the intellectual, it’s a critique of capitalism.

Pauline Keya (Kigogo) and Ken Walibora in his book Kidagaa Kimemwozea focus on neo-colonialism from the shackles of modern slavery to corruption and more. This reflected so much what went on and still goes on within the government and during our teenage years we knew just what to expect from a country we pledge allegiance to, once we get out of high school.

See, advocating or championing for social justice isn’t an easy task, cases always drag for years in court, activists are always rested and at this point art should just depict the rots in the judicial system or warn gullible, ignorant or vengeful citizens. Spoken word artist like King Kaka in his hit release wajinga nyinyi rapped on the social evils, corruption, but despite all that poverty stricken, continuous cry, lament from the citizens and corrupt regime Kenyans still vote for the same politicians. Who has year in and year out been the same. Ironical right? This got him into trouble with the ruling government then. This thereby makes you want to question if the freedom of expression and freedom of speech is really elusive in this country. This is like telling a kid to see but don’t speak about it.

Gabriella Wilson aka H.E.R released [ I can’t breathe] in loving memory of George Floyd’s unprecedented death, she was advocating for racial justice to influence the public sentiment and influence people against the white entitled supremacist injustices. Her music influenced a lot of people and prompted them to protest across the world against police brutality, enabling the birth of the Black Lives Matter Movement. This helped reduce police aggressive law enforcement on the black people and united the black community for change. In the song, she says,” if we all agree that we are equal as people, then why can’t we see what is evil?” This is a reflection that art has a high magnitude to influence people on instances of police brutality, a clear indication of social injustice to demystify the societal perspective of peace, security and equality.

“We breathe the same, and bleed the same but yet we don’t see the same, be thankful we’re God fearing cause we don’t seek revenge, we seek justice, we’re past fear” (H.E.R,2020,3:24). Let’s give credit where it’s due. I applaud her for the power of her art.

I also applaud an organisation called Legal Sister. Because in March 4,2022 they filed a petition after a lady who was sexually assaulted by some motorist and more than 200,000 appended their signatures on the petition. This, then resulted in some regulation within the Boda Boda operation by the then government. And the apprehension of the perpetrators of the hideous act. Isn’t this the power of art? If the content of your art doesn’t destroy you financially in this country please let it expose and recognize the good and bad deeds of this nation.

Although in this country art has not created that much of an impact but there will be a time ,when it will bring hope to victims of social injustices, many people will be empowered and educated, art will counter a history of visibility, it will change narratives, shape public sentiments and this will liberate people, we don’t have to be stripped of our bloodline, whipped or confined to create a revolution and seek justices. All we have to do is understand that this land is our land, it should be our pride. Do we just sit back and watch our pride being taken away? When will we be fed up? When does enough become enough for us?

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