The Tragedy Of Kenyan Entertainment: Why Artists In Kenya Will Never Amount To Much

Story by Uncle Chim Tuna for

Just the other day, I was having a rather interesting conversation with some of my friends about the garbage business model available to Kenyan artists. And for the record, the reason I feel so strongly about the business model is because it has more drawbacks than positives. And for the record, only Safaricom has attempted to come through for Kenyan celebrities in a sustainable manner. Hats off to them. EABL attempted to discover and create stars and that is also commendable.

But that’s where the kudos end. Kenyan corporations are notorious for milking the life and creativity out of entertainers and while the gratification enjoyed by the artists is instant, it is short lived. Allow me to walk you through my thought process.

In Kenya, what kind of music does corporate Kenya favor? Family oriented. That means gospel really but when the songs are secular, they are watered down so much that they loose their edge. Case in point: how many Kenyan songs have you heard of late that have gone continental -whether gospel or secular? Don’t worry, I will wait for you to come up with even one.

Now shut up and listen to Uncle Chim Tuna!

The only models available to Kenyan stars is to water down their music and hope that they get a call from Safaricom to perform at Safaricom Live or make some rubbish gospel song -which can only be said to be gospel because of the constant name dropping of the divine (Yesu, Bwana, Mungu, Rabuka, Jesus et al).
What this means is that artists are not free to fully express themselves. They aren’t making much of an effort to create music because they know they just need to get on Safaricom Live or an EABL gravy train.


Incase you doubt what I am saying, ask yourself when was the last time that a Kenyan artist or group was worth a damn in Africa apart from Camp Mulla. Anyone else? No.

Because before Camp Mulla lost the plot, they were making music from the heart and it appealed to everyone. It wasn’t “family oriented” but it was real and it was edgy and it was popular across the cultural divide.

Let’s not even talk about Kenyans buying local music. Most are too cheap to spend on platforms that are cheaper than burning CDs and MP3s such as Mdundo simply because we are Kenyan. The only time Kenyans want to hear about patriotism is when there is a national tragedy or when the national teams are winning. Anything else is dead to them. Support Kenyan music? Only if that’s a slogan on a shirt. Kenya has no real market for local music.

What we currently have as a “business model” for artists is for them either to make watered down “music” and hope to get on Safaricom Live or make gospel seeing as the gospel events and awards shows are damn near infinite and they all seem to be well sponsored by corporations.

The irony of all this is that even condom companies are trying to promote a “wholesome family friendly” image

 Everyone has a right to an opinion, MINE!

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