Why Governor Alfred Mutua loves the arts and thinks Mike Sonko is negligent with his Tom Mboya baby

Pulse writer Tony Mochama (in dreadlocks) with Governor Alfred Mutua  [Photo: Courtesy]

As the ‘Macha Art-Fest’ happened at the Machakos Peoples’ Park, Tony Mochama got an exclusive interview with Masaku Governor Dr Alfred Mutua about the arts and his recent fight with Gov. Sonko over neglected historic sculptures in Nairobi – this on the very day of Tom Mboya’s 50th assassination anniversary.

A week after Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko invaded Masaku town and accused Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua of being against business folks (in what many saw as Sonko's 'revenge' move after Gov. Mutua shamed him for neglecting the Tom Mboya statue on Tom Mboya street, which is often invaded by Kogalo fans before Gor Mahia matches), Governor Alfred exclusively revealed to us that both the construction of the Mboya statue and the Dedan Kimathi one were his and retired Ambassador Francis Muthaura's brainchild.

I couldn't sleep easy and rest after I saw the state of our baby (statue) that we spend nights dreaming up as street tributes to two of our greatest national heroes,' Gov. Mutua exclusively said, during a visit to his county office, converted from a mere warehouse.

‘This was why I offered to clean and restore them, if he (Sonko) cannot take care of them.

Statues of our mashujaa heroes are a national heritage, not just a county affair. We must learn to preserve our heritage, especially as leaders. It is not a matter of siasa tuu!'

The Arts' loving Governor then took us on a tour to see the Muindi Mbingu, Mulu Mutisya and Paul Ngei statues in Machakos - all three of which are maintained in pristine conditions on a street corner, green gardens and the highway respectively.

Governor Alfred Mutua  [Photo: Facebook]

Before we finally ended up at the Machakos’ Peoples’ Park for the Macha Art-Fest.

Mochama: Tell us, Governor, what is unique about the ‘Macha Art-Fest’ that is ongoing this weekend?

Gov. Alf: First of all, we are the only county in the country doing this, so that makes this art festival unique. Macha-Art-Fest brings together artists, performers, comedians, choirs, dancers and all sorts of artists not just to have the opportunity to have fun and entertain our people at the state-of-the-art ampi-theatre at the Machakos’ Peoples’ Park, but to network and see how to farther nurture the artistic talent, especially of youth.

Mochama: Macha Art-Fest is just part of a series of artistic related activities that take place in the county?

Gov. Alf: Yes, it is what has kicked off the second half of 2019 for us as ‘Macha Wood.’

In September, we will have the ‘Uhai Festival’ at the same venue.

This is a two-day festival which encompasses programs tailored for People With Disabilities

(PWDs) and People With Albinism (PWAs), the disadvantaged in our society. The two-day festival focuses on sports, the arts and entertainment activities which include music performances, dancing, fashion show and spoken word while the sporting activities include amputee football, wheelchair racing, deaf volleyball among many other sporting events designed for people abled differently.

Governor Alfred Mutua [Photo: Edward Kiplimo]

They currently get trophies, but we are teaming up with different sponsors soon to award cash.

Then there is the Machawood Film Festival at the end of the year, where young winners of the best, most creative films get to walk away with hundreds of thousands, with the winner getting a million shillings.

Mochama: You are very passionate about film making. Where did that side of you come from?

Gov. Alf: Many Kenyans remember me for productions like the action series ‘Cobra Squad.

But I actually passionately believe in the power of art, not just to create entertainment, but to make a livelihood from. If it is an inborn trait, there is no use killing yourself to be a lawyer/doctor, as our parents’ generation believed.

We must have a bigger world view for our children and the youth in this country, as seems to be reflected in the upcoming new curriculum, beyond Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Mochama: Can you be more personal in the expounding of that opinion?

Gov. Alf: Alright, so, for example, I discovered I had an inborn trait for painting and public speaking in Second Form. The former led me into film, and Dubai (where I lectured). I made my first film ‘And the Desert Smiled’ there.

The latter talent (public speaking) has gotten us to this office.

Governor Alfred Mutua  [Photo: Facebook]

But I’m not a guy who believes in campaigning in poetry and then governing in prose.

I believe in doing practical things for the people of Masaku (for example, he was receiving the Bliss Healthcare clinic franchise executives Raj Manickam and Antony Kalathil for future health care initiatives in the county at the time of Pulse’s calling) in the field of Universal Health Care.

But also strongly and passionately believe in the power of Art to uplift human beings everywhere, including in Machakos, which is the hub county of entertainment; the place to be.

Mochama: The National Cultural Bill stalled in Parliament, while some Traditional Knowledge one sailed through the Legislature.

Gov. Alf: I am not a member of the current national assembly (currently embroiled in an ‘allowance’ tussle for an average of Shs 21 000 per night in the city, with others like Duale demanding for Java in the premises of Parliament).

But if I were, I would move a motion for a National Cultural Bill, as soon as possible.

Civilization is all about actualization, and art is the path that gets us there.

Maybe art is a mentality, and it is hard to engage in it whilst buffeted by basics, which is why I begin with food, water and healthcare concerns.

But the next stage, the appreciation for the arts, is what makes life richer and worth appreciating.

For example, this current County Governor’s office was a mere warehouse!

Instead of wasting resources constructing an office, we converted it into this beautiful space.

That is Art as the Science of Expediency.

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