As the dust settles on the war between Sauti Sol and Ministry of ICT over who are the authentic owners of Studio Mashinani concept, word on the street is that Sauti Sol could have pocketed something to withdraw their sensational claims.
Sources close to the group allege that they were given a token to silence bad press, a rumour which the group now vehemently denies.
On March 18, Sauti Sol’s Bien-Aime Baraza shocked Kenyans on social media with a fierce attack on the government for stealing their idea of setting up music studios and talent management centres in counties.
But in a fresh twist, Sauti Sol management issued an apology and admission of guilt to President Uhuru Kenyatta for dragging his name into the mud and blamed it all on the media.
“The truth is that no one has silenced me or paid me to withdraw my remarks,” Bien told Heads Up.
Bruce Odhiambo, the man who Sauti Sol gave the project during his tenure as the Youth Fund Chairman admits that in December 2015, he helped set up a meeting between Sauti Sol and the President in Mombasa.
Bruce adds that he does not know much since leaving the government in 2016.
According to Judy Munyinyi Mumo, the Secretary for Information at the ICT Ministry, “Nobody stole from anybody. This was just an idea whose time had come.”
She adds that, “We have agreed with them and we are happy to move together. We are happy to work with them and any other musician willing to plug into Studio Mashinani.”
Bien insists that the initial project was about building a community centre with fully-equipped music studio, library, community radio station and an ICT centre.
But from the look of things, someone simply picked one angle of the project and maybe due to elections, the said person fronted the idea to the ministry,” explains Bien.
The Project Studio Mashinani proposal as seen by Heads Up is an elaborate document with clearly outlined structures from the first page that reads ‘Mashinani Youth Empowerment’ with a vivid description of how to strengthen it.
Bien explains that from the start, it was a Sauti Sol project but to achieve its objectives, they had to involve various professionals from respective industries.
“I talked to Raphael Obonyo from USIU and Martin Openda alongside Cedric Kadenyi. At that point, we did not see any reason of registering the project because we were working with the government and why would we have reasons to fear when working directly with the President?” he posed.
But Bruce has reservations about the new project.
“Instead of working with producers to help artistes, you are opening your own studios; the end result is that the existing studios will still shut down. Again, if you want to open studios, involve the producers and engage them,” he advised.