Crocodile tears? Why pulling down tasteless video has triggered debate

[Photo: Courtesy]

The recent pulling down of a tasteless video by a Kenyan group triggered the debate again about how far the freedom of expression should be protected and whether this was a deliberate attention by the group to attract attention by exercise their ‘right to offend.’

Sharing an interview he did for a local daily on his Facebook account KFCB boss Dr Ezekiel Mutua argues that banning songs does not amount to unwittingly promoting them. He compares the argument to asking police officers not to warn people of terror attack because people will run to the scene instead.

The interview was published the same day he made a post calling for the pulling down and arrest of Sheddy Empire, a group that had released that callous song Pigwa Shoka, which attracted unequivocal criticism from Kenyans.

“We have also alerted the Director of Criminal Investigations to find the creators and producers of such content and ensure that they face the law,” Mutua says in the post, adding that such content should not be distributed and the creators should be arrested.

He goes on to say in the future KFCB won’t just go after the composers of such songs; the board will also “go after producers too and DJs who give traction to such content”. 

The group maintains that they are yet to be summoned or arrested for the song but have already written a letter to KFCB, which they are yet to get a reply to, apologising for releasing the song.

“We highly regret the idea of a song which we thought will be a learning lesson about our culture and how deeply rotten our minds are about women and domestic violence,” the letter says.

Cashney, a group member says the intention of the song and the video was not in any way meant to cause harm to Ivy’s or any other family that has had their loved one killed. He says they pulled down the video hours before YouTube contacted them. Asked about the video he says the idea was to portray what is going on in the country with the rising cases of men killing women.

“We just wanted to paint a picture of what is happening,” he insists.

In the letter they say they have already apologised to the family of Ivy, her friends and classmates and also through a video released on their social media platforms and have contacted several bloggers for the distribution of the apology.

The video caused alarm with many saying that they were just apologising because Kenyans had expressed their anger at the song. Many have felt they were not being sincere in the apology.

Cashney says that people have been quick to accuse him of not putting himself in the shoes of Ivy’s parents but he understands them because he had lost his child four days prior to the song release.

“If people listened to the lyrics carefully and face the fact that sheng changes meaning from place to place, they would get a totally different meaning to the one that has been spread’ he says.

“We used sheng from our estate (Uthiru) to compose the song and it did not carry any negative meaning,” he adds.

Cashney says the timing was just wrong and this is the biggest undoing for the group. ‘

“We promise to do better in the future,” the letters says adding that they are planning to do ‘a campaign against women violence and mental awareness’.